VALE Royal’s cross country stars are on their marks to take on the best runners from across the north of England this weekend.

The Mid Cheshire club’s visit to Sherdley Park, St Helens on Saturday will pit the club’s squads against famous outfits such as Gateshead, Leeds, Sheffield and Sale Harriers.

But after years of success at Vale Royal, despite the size of the club, it will be the runners from Mid Cheshire that will be feared.

“We are actually considered to be among the big guns at this huge event,” said coach Sean McGrath. “It will be very difficult to win anything but over the last four or five years we have medalled so we are hoping to do that again. As to what colour medals, we’ll have to wait and see.”

With more than 400 entries expected for each race and about 1,000 athletes due to compete in the senior men’s race, the Northern Cross Country Championships is one of the biggest events of the season.

Medal hopes exist with many of the Vale Royal teams making the short journey to St Helens but two teams in particular will be targeting medal-winning performances.

“Our under 15 girls team are reigning silver medallists in the team event and they should be close to the medals. The U17s will also stand a good chance,” added McGrath.

To see how Vale Royal’s runners get on at the Championships this weekend, then pick up a copy of your free Chronicle next Wednesday.