WHARFEDALE Harriers’ Alex Thompson was crowned the under-15 national champion in the National Cross Country Championship races held at Harewood House at the weekend.

Thompson completed an impressive hat-trick of titles as he won the under-15 boys race to become 2019 English National Cross Country champion.

Having taken the Yorkshire title in early January and the Northern title later in the month, he was hopeful of a win at the Nationals but knew it would be no easy feat due to the other high calibre runners assembled on the start line.

On the day, conditions were perfect as early morning mist gave way to bright sunshine and temperatures were just right at about 10 to 12 degrees C.

The ground was firm and some fast racing was almost guaranteed on the tough, undulating course around the estate.

The uphill start gave everyone a shock to the system and tested even the best of runners.

Undaunted, Thompson got off to a great start and was already in the leading pack, at the head of 346 runners, by the time they reached the top of the first climb and first congested corner.

However, no-one was going to give him an easy win. Ashford AC’s Louis Small, who won the under-15 Southern Championships, set off fast and took an early lead with Thompson tucking in behind him for a while.

This leading running order changed just before the halfway mark when Thompson decided to overtake Small and made a break for it.

From then on, Small pushed Thompson, working hard to stay close behind until the final long descent.

Here, Thompson opened up his pace and headed off at speed to increase his lead and eventually win the 4.17 km race in 13.27, a full seven seconds ahead of Small.

His achievement is no less impressive for the county of Yorkshire itself, as since the inception of the under-15 boys national championship race in 2003, he is the only Yorkshire boy to take the title.

Bingley Harriers’ Alex Flaherty had a good run to finish 39th (14.30) and Keighley and Craven’s Sam Headley was 54th (14.40) from 346 runners.

In the under-15 girls race, Wharfedale’s Alice Jones ran a tough race to finish 10th (15.40) out of a field of 362 runners.

Bingley’s Rebecca Flaherty, Wharfedale’s Amelie Lane and Bingley’s Martha Jackson ran well to finish 16th (11.28) and 17th (11.32) and 43rd (11.48) respectively in the under-13 girls’ race from a field of 418 runners.

Bingley’s Emily Field finished 37th (19.41) in the under-17 girls’ race from a pack of 220.

Ilkley Harriers Jemima Elgood finished 13th (22.03) in the junior women’s race from a field of 129.

Ilkley’s Euan Brennan finished an impressive fourth (28.59) and Keighley and Craven’s Joe Hudson was 21st (29.52) in the junior men’s race in a field of 201.

In the senior men’s race, former Bingley Harrier Emile Cairess fought a tough battle to the bitter end with Mahamed Mahamed (Southampton AC) to finish second (36.35) only one second behind the winner. Wharfedale’s Robin Howie was 139th (40.36) from 2,006 finishers.

Ribble Valley’s Helen Glover was a respectable 64th (32.03), Ilkley’s Helen Thurston was 76th (32.32), and Wharfedale’s Ailish Graham came 80th (32.36) from a field 1,034.

In the team results, Ilkley Harriers ladies were ranked 19th, Bingley Harriers were 21st and Wharfedale Harriers ranked 23rd from a total of 114 complete teams. Wharfedale Harriers senior men’s team ranked 28th, Bingley Harriers 40th and Ilkley Harriers were 50th from a total of 74 complete teams