THE Northern Cross Country Championships held at Knowsley Safari Park greeted visitors with sunshine.
But as the day wore on rain, wind, hail and ankle deep mud provided competitors with the most challenging of conditions.
Luckily for Liverpool Pembroke Sefton star Rosie Johnson she was on first in the Under 17 race.
She was already well aware of the powerful Warrington athlete, Harriet Knowles-Jones who was never going to be headed in these conditions and so she slotted in comfortably behind her together with the Scarborough girl, Bronwen Owen.
The latter had the edge on the climbs which was decisive in the end but Rosie was clearly content to cruise to the bronze medal. She stays firmly on course for more honours this year.
Senior Toby Loveridge made the trip up from London to take part in the Senior Men’s race.
He too looked reasonably comfortable in the second group and ran out 12th which is excellent at this level.
Like Rosie he was first local home. Ben Costello made a welcome return to competition at 73rd and then a succession of vets in the shape of Sammy Rashid (267), Graham Cairns (282), Bernie Murphy (366) and Chris Pedder (375) closed in to give the club 23rd team spot.
Danny Gilbody (378), Robbie Wood (433), Kevin Carroll (464) and John Dobie (553) were in reserve.
Tough conditions make little difference to Kirsty Longley whose courage and tenacity is legendary.
She hung in with the best throughout and came home a brilliant 19th.
The big joy, though, was the back-up quartet of Sam Wade (108), Vicki Jones (120), Lauren Wilson (130) and Kirsty Mackenzie (136). This gave the club 11th team placing in the North and opponents are beginning to take notice of this squad.
The big hard luck story came in the Junior Men’s race. While the leading bunch scarpered away the LPS lads were running a great team race.
At the finish Ryan Blackwell (21) led them home but not far away Warren Turner (27), James Loftus (30) and Sean Kirkbride (38) gave hope of medals.
Team management held its breath but the final declaration of fourth was only slightly disappointing.
It had been a terrific result. Also there was Stu Haw (48) and Rob Parkinson (64). The club had only one entry in the Junior Women’s race, Maxine Thompson, who finished a highly commendable 39th.
In the younger age groups the emergence of two talented Crosby athletes was confirmed at this higher level.
Under 13 Kyle Robinson-Murray looks completely at home in this sort of company and has a most electrifying finish.
He finished 8th and is another who heads local rivals.
He had with him Ross Harrison (87), Tom Dickinson (114), Alex Lang (155) and Matt Slater (157) occupying a decent 15th position.
Sacred Heart schoolmate Under 15 Daniel Slater has a similar attitude as Kyle and was an inspired 10th.
With Matt Richardson (70), Jack Crook (79) and Joe Martin (166) they were a solid 10th team.
The U17 men were lead home by an improving Jonathan Bride (67) followed by Ben Singleton (89), Chris Webber (107) and Joe Chadderton (116) for 14th team.
The LPS U13 girls turned out in force with Alex Barnsley (77), Mia Smith (83), Megan Barnsley (100) and Fran Price (101) collecting 16th place. They had the added strength of Kate Richardson (195), Isobel Fearon (205) and Charlotte Graham (207). Finally the U15 quartet of Morag Molyneux (40), Anna Hulme (70), Charlotte Mawdsley (103) and Jessica Gonzalez-Green (118) will not be unhappy with 12th team slot.