VALE Royal Athletics Club can look back on Saturday's Cheshire Cross Country Championships with a celebratory smile.

Exceptionally challenging conditions with deep mud, water pools and torrential rain made for tough going at The Farm Club in Pickmere, where numerous athletes lost footwear while racing, but Vale Royal's determined runners dominated the event from under 15s and above.

Twenty-four individual and team medals, comprising 10 gold, eight silver and six bronze, along with top-three finishes across the veteran categories confirm the club's show of strength from 88 competitors.

"It was mud and medals everywhere," said one club official.

"What fantastic performances. Souls were well and truly searched and everyone should be applauded for meeting the challenge."

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There was some early success at under 11s level over 2000m, with Lily Coates winning silver, Gus Fraser collecting bronze and both teams winning silver thanks to further sterling efforts of Alexander Kruithof (8th) and Mattis Kennerley (13th) in the boys' race and Mia Broughton (7th) and Amy Turner (13th) in the girls' event.

And then over the longer 2,400m distance with a steep climb towards the finish, Nancy Carrington earned third place in the under 13s race and, combined with Ella Harvey and Imogen Ward, a silver team medal.

But the medals really started to flow from the third race, which was two long laps (4,300m) of the steadily worsening course for the under 15s runners.

Robbie Price, continuing his phenomenal run of winning performances, led the boys' race from start to finish and together with the efforts of Alex Macnab (7th) and Rhys Bowden (8th), Vale Royal took the team gold.

Eva Jha was second girl home and with Erin Carney (5th) and Sophie Harding (6th) another team gold was in the bag.

Furthermore, Zoe Broughton (8th), Lavinia Burke (13th) and Anna Smith (14th) achieved the bronze team medal.

The rain abated as the under 17s got underway. Dylan Carney (3rd), Jake Wilson (4th) and Jack O'Reilly (6th) combined to take team gold.

Grace Roberts led from gun to tape in the girls' race while Isobel Ashcroft took the bronze. Ellie Bushill came home seventh to secure the gold team medal.

The senior women had the pleasure of a third long lap, competing over 6,200m, with Abigail Howarth and Amelia Pettitt having a race-long battle for the victory. Howarth pulled clear on the final lap and with Kate Moulds (5th) they won the team gold.

A further lap was added for the senior and under 20s men, making the increasingly muddy course 8,100m.

Ed Shepherd, running in his first claim colours of Woodford Green, blasted away from the start and left the rest to win by more than 50 seconds.

Raif Serif, although an under 20, chose to race as a senior and clinched the category's silver medal.

With six to count in the men's team competition, Nathan Williams (9th), Arun Dight (13th), Ryan Moore (15th), James Griffiths (22nd) and Josh Betteley (25th) earned team gold.

In the under 20s category, Ed Pettitt (2nd), Will Ashfield (3rd) and Aaron Doyle (4th) achieved team gold.