THE extremely muddy countryside in Catton Park, Derbyshire, was the unlikely magnet for some 2,000 young athletes representing more than 40 counties at the ESAA Cross-Country Championships, most of whom seemed to revel in the conditions.
Five local athletes proudly ran in Surrey gold with varying degrees of success in fields of 300 or so athletes, and three of them contributed significantly to major team achievements.
Trinity school senior Sophie Foreman placed high throughout, and was doubly rewarded with a fighting fifth-place finish, just 40 seconds behind the winner, as well as leading her team to a comfortable runners-up spot.
Fellow Trinity School student Peter Chambers was experiencing a slight off-day.
He almost fell at one point but recovered well to finish 23rd, 50 seconds behind the winner and feature in probably the most emphatic team win in the history of the championships with 74 points.
Kent came second on 289 points and Yorkshire third with 481 points.
Another Croydon Harrier, intermediate girl Stevie Lawrence, came 97th and contributed to a double Surrey success in that team category, with the county placing a solid second in the main competition and winning the special R Brown trophy for the first team to close in all its runners too.
Wilson's intermediate Tom Holden, of South London Harriers, was very unfortunate, succumbing to a health problem shortly after the start, but such is his talent he can be confident of returning soon as a significant threat to his peers.
Kieron Connor had a tough baptism in mud on his national debut but he acquitted himself well without making the scoring six, but his is certainly a name to watch.
In the highlights from the ParkRun action last Saturday morning, Rob Spalding came home as a runner-up at the Roundshaw Downs event, while Josie Kavanagh triumphed in the women's category.
Norman Hemming completed his 100th ParkRun event at the same venue.
At the Crystal Palace indoor sprint series, five Harriers were in action the previous Wednesday with 15-year-old Daniel Luke impressing with 7.29 seconds.
Also in the U17 men's category were Darel Stone (7.48secs), Peter Olusakin (7.70secs) and Alex Roberts (7.99secs), while Shaquielle Cameron (7.73secs) flew the flag in the U20 men's races.
On the road, Sophie Bates finished third in the Valentines 10K in 39 minutes and 23 seconds.