Hundreds of spectators enjoyed a scene of mud, sweat and glory as an annual cross country event moved to a new venue.
Barnard Castle School became host to the annual County Cross Country Championships, attracting hundreds of young runners from south of the Tyne to north of the Tees.
Organised by Durham County Schools’ Athletic Association, the gruelling event saw budding athletes from Years 7 to 13 battle it out in near freezing conditions.
Top athlete India Pentland, 14, of Manfield, marked the occasion by being the perfect host and taking the honours in the intermediate class with a convincing win over the rest of the field.
The Barnard Castle School girl said: “It was a great course and I really enjoyed the event being staged at my school. I made my move a bit early and made it tough for myself so was very pleased to win.”
The County Cross Country Championships is staged every year pitting the best young runners in the region and honing the skills of the next generation of elite athletes.
Top runners will next compete at the inter-regional competition at Kirkby Stephen, Cumbria, which next year may also be held at Barnard Castle School.
Hundreds of competitors, their friends and family descended on the school for the event to enjoy a course designed by teacher Charles Alderson and laid out by school groundsmen. Teesdale Athletic Club provided the marshals and Barney Friends much-needed hot refreshments.
It has been an absolute delight to host such a popular and prestigious event and share our wonderful facilities with the wider community – Charles Alderson, teacher at Barnard Castle School
Alderson said: “It has been an absolute delight to host such a popular and prestigious event and share our wonderful facilities with the wider community.”
Secretary of Durham County Schools’ Athletic Association Mike Howard said: “Barnard Castle School has proved to be the perfect venue with facilities that were even better than we would normally have.
“The sports fields were transformed into something akin to a European cross country course, with a good mix of flat ground, obstacles and gradients. Spectators could see the whole course and loved what is a beautiful setting.”
Durham County Cross Country Secretary and the event organiser Simon Hannaford added: “We have had some really good feedback from runners and their families about the generosity of the school, the quality of the facilities and the course.”
Teams taking part included West Wearside, Wearside, Derwentside, Durham Central, South Tyneside, Gateshead, Easington, South West and Darlington.