STRENGTH-IN-DEPTH will be tested to the full in today's North of England 12-Stage Road Relay Championships at Manchester, where Morpeth Harriers are again expected to be the North-East's leading contestants.

Last year the championships were delayed a month after heavy snowfall at Blackpool and the Northumbrian club took the silver medals behind Leeds City in the re-arranged event at Sutton Park. The previous year Morpeth were third defending the title won at Catterick Garrison in 2011.

Morpeth will be joined at Heaton Park by six other North-East clubs, Gateshead (eighth last year), Sunderland, Durham, Tyne Bridge, Hartlepool Burn Road and Jarrow and Hebburn. The first 25 finishers - A and B teams - will qualify for the National Championships at Sutton Park, Birmingham, next month.

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A record entry of 76 clubs has been received for today's event and athletes will compete over alternate legs of 4.9 miles and 2.8 miles, starting at 11.30am. The women's Six-Stage Championship starts at 11.35am.

n Birtley's newly-crowned under-17 National cross country champion, Lydia Turner, gets a early opportunity to avenge her defeat in last weekend's Inter Counties Championships when she represents Durham County in the English Schools Cross Country Championships at Castle Donnington today.

Turner will again be racing, in the senior girls section, against Cheshire's Harriet Knowles-Jones, who pulled away on the final hill at Nottingham to win by nine seconds.

Northumberland and Cleveland will also be representing the region in the six-race Schools event.