A cold wet and windy Oswestry was the venue for the 5th and final Grand Prix Express North Wales Cross Country League race. Shropshire have 5 clubs in this league with runners from Bridgnorth, Shrewsbury, Telford, Whitchurch and host club Oswestry Olympians all taking part. Claire Martin of Telford AC and Peter Butler from Oswestry Olympians both came away with leading individiual honours winning the overall womens and mens league titles overall. Martin, from Aqueduct who won 4 of the 5 league races this season, also had the satisfaction of leading her team to overall Division One and Masters team titles. Peter Butler became the first ever Oswestry Olympian to win the overall mens title including winning the races at Bangor and Oswestry. Shrewsbury AC also got their hands on some silverware as they won the mens masters title that they last won in 2009 and were second overall in the mens Division One team title behind Eryri, who had not won the title since 2002.
The hilly Oswestry course is always tough but with with driving wind and rain conditions were some of the toughest experienced by runners this winter. Claire Martin still led the way home in the womens race to confirm her 6th individual league overall title, the most by any athlete. She finished in 20.20 and was some 43 seconds ahead of runner up Alison Lavender from Oswestry who finished 3rd in the league overall, whilst Claire Burgoyne overhauled her Shrewsbury AC team mate Anna Bartlett in the closing stages by 4 seconds as they finished 4th and 5th and were in the same positions in the league overall, as Shropshire celebrated 4 athletes in the top 5 overall the best return for many years. Telford AC's Michelle Clarke was 9th whilst Alison Tickner from Oswestry enjoyed the tough conditions and was the next Shropshire lady home in 14th, her highest position of the season. Charlotte Jones from Oswestry was 16th, Juliet Hoad, Telford AC 18th, Lisa Blagden, Telford AC 22nd, Laura Davies, Oswestry 24th and Susie Hancock, Oswestry 37th completing the Shropshire finishers in the top 40.
Telford AC won Division One on the day with 50pts from their first 4 finishers with Oswestry second just 6 points behind which gave them the overall runners up medals with Eryri 3rd on the day and 3rd overall. Shrewsbury were 2nd on the day to Tattenhall Runners in Division 2 with 79 pts from their first 3 runners and second overall. Whitchurch Whippets were 7th on the day and finished 9th out of 15 teams overall in Division 2. Telford AC also won the Womens Masters team event on the day with Eryri second and Wrexham third as well as being the overall winners. Other local individual overall medal winners were Claire Martin, TAC 1st over 35, Anna Bartlett, SAC 2nd over 40, Juliet Hoad, TAC 3rd over 45, Alison Whitelaw, Wrexham 1st over 50, Susie Hancock, Osw 3rd over 50.
Welsh International Richard Roberts from Welshpool, who won the overall league title last year, comfortably won the mens race in 35.30, with Steven Boyton from Deeside second and Matthew Rose from Buckley third, just 11 seconds ahead of Peter Butler from Oswestry who had still done enough to take the overall league title. His team mate Paul Jones who has also had his best ever cross country season took 7th on the day, 4th overall and won the Masters over 40's title. Shrewsbury's Ian Howarth was the next county finisher in 9th, his team mate Kevin Francis ran well for 14th and was the second over 40 in the league overall. Other leading Shropshire finishers were 22nd Dom Kirby, SAC, 23rd R. Sharam, Whitchurch Whippets. Paul Clark from Shrewsbury was 36th and second over 50 on the day and 3rd overall in this age group overall with his team mate Graham Turner taking the overall over 50's title. Oswestry's Welsh International Steve Roberts was 38th and the overall over 55's league champion. Paul Williams from Telford AC was 37th, Harvey Morgan, Oswestry was 42nd, G. Jones from Whitchurch 43rd, Neil Bevan from Oswestry was 44th with Shrewsbury AC's Chris Wakeman 50th.
Eryri won the team race on the day and the league title the first time it has left Shropshire soil since 2005. Shrewsbury were second on the day and were runners up overall with Tattenhall third. Telford AC last years champions were 6th on the day and 4th overall. Oswestry won the Division 2 team race on the day and were 2nd in the league overall improving from 4th last year. Whitchurch Whippets, Shropshire's youngest club were 6th on the day and 5th overall in the league improving from 9th last year. Bridgnorth AC were 13th on the day and 15th overall. Eryri won the Masters team race on the day, with Oswestry second. Shrewsbury were 3rd Masters team on the day but that was enough for them to win the league overall by 10 points with Eryri second and Oswestry, who did not finish a masters team last season did really well to take third.
Telford's womens team took the honours in the final North Wales Cross Country race of the season at a windy and wet Oswestry on Saturday. Claire Martin won the womens race and with it her 6th N Wales overall league title. The team took the First Division title for only the 5th time in the club's history and the vets team took the vets team title. Juliet Hoad, Claire Martin and Lisa Blagden proudly celebrating with the silverware.