At the start of the day Northern Athletics Club would have just been happy to make their Club debut by just competing at the Lancashire County Cross Country Championships. The odd individual had competed before most notably Ryan Fairclough but this time eleven athletes and two coaches appeared along with parents and friends on a pleasant winters morning at Witton Park, Blackburn. They marked their first ever team appearance with one silver medal, one automatic and two possible selections for the County team in the Inter Counties way beyond their expectations. First up was brothers Harry & Alex Read in the under 11 boys race both still feeling a little under the weather from a recent illness as were quite a few other local athletes. The event was won by ex Island athlete Nial Caley still running for Manx Harriers even though he now lives in England, both lads ran with credit Harry 14th and Alex 18th. Whilst preparing our under 11 girls I noticed the multi coloured socks on Megan Lockwood from Colby as we taped her spikes on due to the heavy mud on the course. As the under 11 girls disappeared in to the distance after the start I could see those muticouloured socks coming back towards us well clear in second place. Was it Lockwood the answer was yes, running brilliantly with 9 year old Lydia Morris back in the pack in 10th place and better still Kira Perry was having her best ever run todate in 13th, the parents were delighted. Lockwood held on to second place, Morris improved to 8th with Perry losing a few places to finish 18th it just couldn’t get any better could it. David Mullarkey from Port Erin is without doubt one of the Northen clubs outstanding athletes this winter so far, but another who was not 100% due to recent illness, Mullarkey is a very tough little runner as he has shown in the Winter hill running league and was in third place when he came past us on the course the climb up into the forest took a little out of him but he held on to take 6th place (automatic selection for County) James Strickett had a steady run to finish 22nd his first year in the under 13 class and will hopefully join Mullarkey next year. Jess Hill who ran really well to finish 9th in the under 13 girls race will have to wait until the team is announced in February having just missed out on automatic selection. In the under 15 girls race we had a very nervous Katie Strickett she was worried that she would come last we had to explain that even if she did it would not be embarrassing as it was the taking part and improving your performance each time that mattered, anyway Strickett finished 20th with another 12 or more behind, I have to apologize publicly to our next competitor Greg Crebbin from Port Erin in the under 15 boys race with all the running around I forgot to check Crebbin had taped his spikes on and yes you guessed it, he lost his shoe in the mud he lost a few places to finish 23rd three short of the target I set him. For me the run of the day came from 16 year old Kirree Quayle from Ramsey she ran her socks off to finish 8th in the under 17 ladies race at the finish Quayle looked like she was going to pass out at anytime, and just kept walking even after the officials shoved a selection letter in her hand, the athlete in front of her was already being carried away on a stretcher, after we had helped her regain a normal breathing pattern her face was a picture when she opened that letter. With our competing over and delighted with our results we stayed on to support the Manx Harrier & Western Athletes.