CREWE'S Stevie Stockton led the way as Vale Royal Athletics Club U17 girls team became North of England Champions.

The Coppenhall High School youngster snatched an incredible sixth place in her race at Durham, on Saturday, despite the fact that at age 15 she was racing girls up to two years older than her.

She was joined by Sandbach High School ace Rachel Clews (29th), and teammates Laura Lambert (18th) and Emma Coxon (32nd) in the victorious quartet.

Coach Shaun McGrath said: 'Stevie is absolutely remarkable. We knew she couldn't win because of the age difference. She is bottom of her age group with an August birthday, making her nearly two years younger than some of her competitors.

'But she led from the front and to come in sixth is fantastic. The level of competition was so high and for us to get a team gold for the north of England is more than we could ever have expected. All the girls ran really well.'

Sandbach High School's Lorna Timms also performed exceptionally, arriving home in 34th, while Vale Royal AC's Andrew Clews ran in the U13 boys and Louise Bosson in the U15 girls races.

Sheffield got the silver medal in the U17 girls standings, while Rotherham grabbed bronze. Overall, the event attracted more than 2,000 of the country's best runners. nSouth Cheshire Harrier Mike Hatton finished 45th out of a 1,200 strong field, in 1:18mins, at the recent Four Villages Half Marathon in Helsby.

Stella Anderson, an up and coming runner, completed her first half marathon in 2:07mins. Other club results include: Stephen Dawson (1:30mins); Paul Brownbill (1:34mins); Jason Dix (1:36mins); Robert Cummings (1:37mins); Simon Walker (1:38mins); Martin Stirna (1:38mins); Mike Cutler (1:39mins); Geoff Hardy (1:57mins).

Mike Cutler, Sheila Bickerton, and Colin and Gael Earp took part in the Twin Peaks 10km race at Colwyn bay, and the experienced Cutler came 114th out of 456, in just under 44 minutes, at the Chernobyl Challenge 10km race at Walton-le-Dale, Preston, on Sunday. A large contingent of Harriers will compete in the Alsager five mile race on Sunday.

Meanwhile, Pete Mallison came first in Group A, and second in the men's 18-39 age group, in the North Staffordshire Road Runner's League final standings.

Dave Jones was third in the men's 18-39 age group, Mike Hatton came second in Group B and second in the 40-44 age bracket, while Mike Cutler was third in the men's 45-49 group.

The Cheshire Schools Cross Country Championships take place on Saturday at Rease-heath College, Nantwich. The minor girls race will get under way at 10am, and the final event, the inter boys, starts at 12.20pm.