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Norfolk XC Championships: 'It means a lot to me' - BVH's Michael Eccles so proud to win in Thetford

PUBLISHED: 18:50 05 January 2020 | UPDATED: 10:06 06 January 2020

Bure Valley Harriers takes victory at the Norfolk Cross Country Championships. Picture: Mark Hewlett

Bure Valley Harriers takes victory at the Norfolk Cross Country Championships. Picture: Mark Hewlett

© 2013 Mark Hewlett

Michael Eccles admitted he had achieved one of his life running goals in winning the Norfolk Cross Country Championships at the Charles Burrell Centre in Thetford.

Ben Spratling took second at the Norfolk Cross Country Championships. Picture: Mark HewlettBen Spratling took second at the Norfolk Cross Country Championships. Picture: Mark Hewlett

The Bure Valley Harriers athlete blitzed the senior field, winning in 33:01, ahead of City of Norwich AC pair Ben Spratling and Gary Crush in second and third respectively.

Eccles, 39, said it was a proud moment to win the county's flagship cross country event.

"Coming into the race I felt really good," he said. "I've struggled with injuries but I've always wanted to win this race. It's the only time that all the best runners in the country come up against each other. It means a lot to me."

The race started off quickly with Eccles and Callum Bowen-Jones (Dereham AC) leading from the front after the first mile. When Bowen-Jones diverted off to take victory in the U20 race, Eccles was out on his own and he knew the race was there for the taking.

CoNAC's Gary Crush on his way to third place at the Norfolk Cross Country Championships. Picture: Mark HewlettCoNAC's Gary Crush on his way to third place at the Norfolk Cross Country Championships. Picture: Mark Hewlett

"It started quite quickly but after a mile it settled down. I got into the lead and I knew if I was going to win today I needed to make it a full 10K effort," he said. "I'm not too bad at sprint finish but I knew if those track boys were with me at the end they would be favourites.

"I got to halfway and really tried to turn the screw.

"I know Piers (Arnold) and Logan (Smith) weren't here and they have been struggling with injury. But I knew I had a chance today. I know some people might not have expected it... but I knew I could win."

Eccles, who won the Sportlink Grand Prix Series last year, can't wait now to go on and represent Norfolk at the Inter Counties Cross Country Championships in Loughborough in March.

Action from the start of the senior race at the Norfolk Cross Country Championships. Picture: Mark HewlettAction from the start of the senior race at the Norfolk Cross Country Championships. Picture: Mark Hewlett

"It's always nice to put the Norfolk vest on," he added. "I used to play cricket for Norfolk and it meant a lot to me... it's the same with the running.

"I'm also entered into the England 5M Championships, which I'm really looking forward to. I'm not sure about the GP Series at the moment - I'll do some of the races and see how I go."

Athletics Norfolk will release the full results from the event in due course.

Action from the Norfolk Cross Country Championships. Picture: Mark HewlettAction from the Norfolk Cross Country Championships. Picture: Mark Hewlett

Action from the Norfolk Cross Country Championships. Picture: Mark HewlettAction from the Norfolk Cross Country Championships. Picture: Mark Hewlett

Action from the Norfolk Cross Country Championships. Picture: Mark HewlettAction from the Norfolk Cross Country Championships. Picture: Mark Hewlett

Action from the Norfolk Cross Country Championships. Picture: Mark HewlettAction from the Norfolk Cross Country Championships. Picture: Mark Hewlett

Action from the Norfolk Cross Country Championships. Picture: Mark HewlettAction from the Norfolk Cross Country Championships. Picture: Mark Hewlett

Action from the Norfolk Cross Country Championships. Picture: Mark HewlettAction from the Norfolk Cross Country Championships. Picture: Mark Hewlett

Action from the start of senior race at the Norfolk Cross Country Championships. Picture: Mark HewlettAction from the start of senior race at the Norfolk Cross Country Championships. Picture: Mark Hewlett

Action from the Norfolk Cross Country Championships. Picture: Mark HewlettAction from the Norfolk Cross Country Championships. Picture: Mark Hewlett

Action from the Norfolk Cross Country Championships. Picture: Mark HewlettAction from the Norfolk Cross Country Championships. Picture: Mark Hewlett

Action from the Norfolk Cross Country Championships. Picture: Mark HewlettAction from the Norfolk Cross Country Championships. Picture: Mark Hewlett

Callum Bowen Jones before the start of the Norfolk Cross Country Championships U20 race. Picture: Mark HewlettCallum Bowen Jones before the start of the Norfolk Cross Country Championships U20 race. Picture: Mark Hewlett

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