Athletics: Up to town for a spot of cross-country

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The Independent Online
A field of 2,000 runners setting off at the start of the senior men's English national championships on Parliament Hill, north London, yesterday, writes Hugh Jones. In freezing conditions Richard Nerurkar of Bingley Harriers was first home over the convoluted three-lap, nine-mile course of treacherous grass tufts and the occasional mudtrap. He looked comfortable early on while letting others take the punishment of leading, but in the final fast downhill mile he strode out to a confident victory in 42 min 52 sec. It was the third occasion in as many attempts that Nerurkar has lifted the nowadays somewhat flattering title of national champion. Tipton Harrier David Payne, who had made a brave but premature break at seven miles, followed Nerurkar home a respectful 10 seconds behind. The National is the clubman's traditional annual outing. Altogether 350 teams took part at its most celebrated venue again after an absence of 12 years. Bingley Harriers, from the shadow of the Pennines and in their centenary year, celebrated further by winning the team event. With the race shorn of its previous importance as a trial for the World Cross-Country Championships, to be held on 28 March in Spain, Nerurkar was one of the few commanding figures. In Spain he will be joined by the first six finishers from the official trial, held in Corby three weeks ago, and two others.

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