WHAT a mudbath - but it didn't stop Vale Royal Athletics Club's under 15s girls winning gold.

While Grace Roberts led the way as she secured silver in the ECCA Saucony English National Cross Country Championships in Nottingham, Holly Weedall, Hope Smith and Isobel Ashcroft joined her to finish as team champions.

Winsford's Weedall, Willaston's Smith and Sandbach's Ashcroft finished in 11th, 16th and 48th places respectively for the Knights Grange club.

Winsford Guardian:

From left, golden girls Grace Roberts, Hope Smith, Holly Weedall, Isobel Ashcroft. Picture: Chris Weedall

For Hartford C of E High School athlete Roberts she proved once again she is a muddy marvel, hot-footing it through treacherous flooded conditions to earn her first medal in this particular national championship.

The stunning performance among 390 of the country’s best athletes in the age group backed up her first-place finish in the Northern Inter Counties Championships and Cheshire Championships last month.

It caps a wonderful start to a 2020 which includes gold at the Cheshire Schools Cross Country Championships earlier this month.

VIEW: More pictures of the runners tackling the mudbath conditions

Racing over 4k, Roberts got away to a good start, quickly moved through the field to work her way up into second place which she easily maintained.

Roberts finished 22 seconds behind winner Kiya Dee from Highworth Running Club, near Swindon, who went into the event as the Gloucestershire and South West Inter Counties champion.

She was 13 seconds ahead of Leven Valley’s third-placed Jessica Bailey, who had been two seconds behind Roberts in the Northerns.

A club spokesman said: "It was great day's racing over a classic cross country course bathed in mud.

"Gold and silver medals on a national stage for the under 15 girls made it a day to remember.

"A proud day for the athletes, coaches, volunteers and parents."

Alice Gale, Florence Cooke, Thea Smith and Molly Roberts finished 75th, 179th, 308th and 312th respectively in the same under 15s category in conditions described by cub chiefs as 'probably the worst ever' following the extremely wet weather this winter.

Large areas of Wollaton Park were churned into a mudbath by nearly 5000 pairs of feet by the end of the day.

First race of the day was for under 17s women over a distance of 5k.

Francesca Harris was Vale's only entrant and she finished 49th out of 257 athletes.

Next up were the under 15s boys racing over 4k.

Jake Wilson finished a fine eighth among 364 competitors.

Lukas-Sebastian Ellis, Joshua Williamson and Harry Godwin followed him home to complete a team of four which came 20th of 40 teams.

In the under 13s girls' race, Sophie Harding was highest placed girl for Vale Royal finishing 182nd in a field of 357 athletes racing over a 3k course.

Anna Smith, Zoe Broughton and Isabelle Maundrill made up a team finishing 31st.

Moving up the age groups and distances, the under 17s men took on a 6k challenge.

Raif Serif led the way for Vale with a top 20 finish, while Ed Pettitt was 60th and Sam Stephens 98th in a field of 286.

Next up were the under 13s boys over 3k where Robert Price showed his great potential finishing in 17th place out of 384 athletes. Rhys Bowden was 149th.

In the junior women's race over 6k, England international Holly Smith ran well to finish 15th.

Great Britain international Amelia Pettitt was first home for Vale in the 8k senior women's race.

Amelia crossed the line 18th of 911 competitors.

Liz Renondeau was 56th, while Cara Gibbons crossed the line in 234th.

Veteran Carole Williams (V65) was 894th and the team came 36th out of 94.

Harry Dexter was first home for Vale Royal in the 10k junior men's race, finishing in 54th place. Aaron Doyle was 109th.

Final race of the day was the senior men's race over 12k.

A massive field of 1710 athletes toed the line and Stuart Doyle emerged in 314th place at the finish.

John Clarke was 1559th.