A County Durham town played host to this year’s Start Fitness Northern Cross-Country Championships yesterday – while a North East competitor scooped first place in the men’s race.

Chris Lines, 52, from Sedgefield, said he was delighted his town could welcome the annual competition as runners from across the region get a greater chance to exhibit their skills.

He said the competition comprises a series of junior and senior races – from ages 13 and up – and is one of the biggest winter athletics events in England.

Mr Lines estimated the event saw 2,000 people attend - including spectators, as well as family and friends of the athletes – and hailed the event as a “coup for Sedgefield.”

The Northern Echo:

He said: “We’re really excited for having it here. It’s a key pathway to representing your region and your nation.

“Over the years, some of the most famous athletes in the country have cut their teeth in Cross country.

“Brendan Foster, Steve Cram, Alyson Dickson, Laura Weightman, some real famous North East names, they’ve all donned their club vests, and put on their spikes, and dealt with the mud and the hills of Cross Country.

“It was a pleasure and a privilege to be involved in the delivery of the event and we’re really grateful to Northern Athletics for giving us that opportunity.”

The Northern Echo:

Mr Lines added that Calum Johnson of Gateshead Harriers was the winner of the event’s senior men’s race.

The races took place at East Park, an area of open parkland close to Hardwick Park, and began at 11am, with the last race taking place at 3pm.

He added this was the first time Sedgefield had held the event since 1955 – which was held at Sedgefield Racecourse.

He thanked the volunteers and runners for making the event possible, as well as the community who helped facilitate the event.

Most read:

Grab our digital subscription for £3 for 3 months and stay connected with local happenings. Click here

Here are some more pictures from the event:

The Northern Echo: The Northern Echo: The Northern Echo: The Northern Echo: The Northern Echo: The Northern Echo: The Northern Echo:

Mr Lines said his club was “delighted” to welcome the event to the town and added he believed events such as this were very important to grassroots athletics.

He added runners from Gateshead, Tyne Bridge Harriers, Darlington, City Harriers, Crook, Birtley, North Shields, and Heaton Harriers all took part in the races.