AFTER the bread and butter of the Birmingham Cross Country League, it was time for the magic of the cup on Saturday as athletes from Dudley Kingswinford Running Club travelled to the National Cross Country Championships.

Their Wembley was Wollaton Park, Nottingham, as the blue hoops rubbed shoulders with GB internationals and Olympic medallists in the biggest event of the winter season.

As clubs from the four corners of the country converged on the East Midlands, the pride of Wall Heath tied on their spikes for three laps around the deer park involving hurdling a fallen tree and some boggy sections of the 12km course.

First back for the hoops, in a field of nearly 1,700, was Ben Foster in 486th place.

Andy Sprague came 750th, Rob Sannwald was 784th, Dave Norman came 1,125th, Rob Kennard was 1,205th and Mark Homer finished in 1,224th. Against some of the best clubs in the country, DK finished a creditable 85th of the 127 teams competing.

Twenty four hours later, a group of hoops travelled the short distance to Russells Hall Hospital for the annual Action Heart 5.

In possibly his last race in DK colours, Rob Meredith took 16th place in 30.56, Graham Wildgoose finished in 35th in 33.31, Brian Preston finished in 34.03 in 45th place and Darren Marklew came home in 34.25 for 46th place.