HALF a dozen Burton Athletics Club runners impressed at the televised Cross Country Inter-Counties Championships held at Cofton Park in Birmingham.
The event sees athletes from the four corners of the British isles coming together to represent their county having gained selection via their regional championships.
In recent years Burton AC had managed one or two qualifiers. However, six athletes made the grade for the 2013 championships.
Cory Parker and James Latham were first up, representing Staffordshire in the under-20 men’s race alongside 200 other runners over an 8K course.
Parker whose cross country appearances this season had not matched up to his road-running exploits, started steadily and made his way through the field despite the heavy conditions.
Parker felt comfortable in the surroundings and recorded his best place finish of 65th to be named first Staffordshire counter.
Latham, in his first ever county race, was not out of place and his reward for a great season was to cross the line as fifth Staffordshire team counter in 168th overall.
The next race saw Alec Stackhouse try and repeat his fantastic performance in the Nationals two weeks earlier as he competed for Staffordshire in the under-13 boys race.
In the largest field of the day Stackhouse struggled to keep up with the leaders and lost his footing several times in the heavy mud – preventing him from closing the gap – and eventually crossing the line in 91st place.
Mollie O’Hanlon was the only female Burton athlete to take part and was the first club runner in several years to compete at the championships.
In her first Staffordshire county vest appearance, O’hanlon was up against more than 300 other runners in the under-13 girls event and gave herself something to build upon for next year after crossing the line in 223rd.
In the under-17 men’s race, county regular Alex Benfield lined up for the fifth time at the prestigious event wearing his green and white Staffordshire vest.
Having had a good season so far Benfield was looking to beat his record of 72nd spot achieved in 2012.
Benfield went out hard and found himself up with the elite runners. But as the race intensified a slight chest infection hampered Benfield and he was unable to match the pace.
Despite dropping places in the closing stages Benfield still claimed a highly creditable 60th place finish in a field of 276 first class athletes.
Veteran Gordy Smith pulled on the White vest of Derbyshire for the second year running in the senior men’s race.
Smith splashed through the muddy course to finish in 273rd place.
Benfield and Stackhouse will now be focusing on Saturday’s English Schools Cross Country Championships at Catton Hall in Derbyshire.