Thousands of people flocked to Doncaster, today, to witness the Fortieth National Cross Country Championship, decided on the Doncaster Racecourse. The weather was beautifully fine, and, a fair breeze prevailing, everything pointed to a splendid gate and good sport.
The Mayor of Doncaster (Councillor S. Morris) attended to present the trophies and medals after the race.
This is only the second time the National Championship has been run in Yorkshire, the last occasion being in 1900 at Rotherham, when Finchley Harriers took both team and individual honours, C. Bennett being first man home.
The entry had attracted 19 teams, 10 less than last year, when the Championship was decided at Windsor, and, with the individuals who were allowed to compete, there were 201 runners, a fine field, and quite up to the standard of cross country turnouts.
All the crack runners of the country were in opposition, and Birchfield, Surrey, Hallamshire Harriers. Warrington and Highgate were all spoken of as likely to provide the winners of the team event.
Ernest Glover (Hallamshire H.) was a popular favourite for the individual race, with his chief opponents Vose (Warrington H.), Hodge and Hatton (Surrey A.C.), Dixon (Finchley H.), Wallach (Broughton H.), Mills (Leicester H.), Blewitt (Birchfield), Northcliffe (Slaithwaite H.), and Dyde (Nuneaton H.). The Wath representative, Jack White, was also thought likely to spring a surprise.
Prior to the race a further scrutiny meeting was held and Cummins (Surrey A. C.), held to be a first claim member for Cheltenham, was not allowed to compete. It was noticeable that no foreigner competed owing to the entries having been received too late. Last year the individual champion Guillemot (of France) and Birchfield Harriers were the team champions.
The distance was 10 miles, four times round the course, and included 500 yards of plough, 300 yards of stubble, and five water jumps.
A splendid start was made, but the field quickly strung out. At the end of the first lap Freeman (Birchfield) was leading, Pepper, of the North Staffs, coming second. Then in succession came Blewitt, Hatton, Vose, Nicklin, Mills, Glover, Walker, Clibbon, Norcliffe, Freakley (North Staffs).
The position of Nicklin created enthusiasm, he being a Doncaster Plant Athletic. J. White was thirteenth. Birchfield were packing well and so were North Staffs. and Hallamshire. The going generally was light, but many of the runners showed signs of misadventures at the water jumps.
During the second lap Glover dropped out and this was rather a surprising occurrence for the Hallamshire supporters. It was known that Glover had leg trouble.
At the end of the five miles Freeman was still ahead of the field with a distance of 30 yards between him and Blewitt, who had passed Pepper. Birchfield at this period had five men the first 23. Northcliffe moved up from eleventh to sixth position, and Rose was fourth.
Fred Walker, of Hallamshire, a Junior last year, was running splendidly, being eighth. Freeman's time for the first lap was 14 minutes 11 seconds and for the second 28 minutes 39 seconds. The South had only one man in the first ten, but Hallamshire had four in the first 20. It turned out that both Glover and Hatton had come to grief at the jump.
Another round to go and there was no alteration in the placing of the first four. Freeman, however, had increased his lead to 100 yards. Rands, another Hallamshire runner, fell out in the third lap.
Birchfield now had six men in the first 22, North Staffs three in the first 12, Surrey four in the first 26, and Hallamshire three the first 23.
The winner's time was 58min. 6secs., Blewitt 58min. 13sscs., and Vose 58min. 46secs.
In the team championship, Birchfield also had an easy success, beating the second club, Warrington, by 123 points.
In the placings for team honours, the individuals were not included the count.