JOHN Humphries is celebrating his first win in the Cheshire Cross Country Championships.

And the Vale Royal athlete is delighted to have shared in the success with clubmate Josh Betteley.

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St Nicholas Catholic High School sixth-form student Humphries, 18, finished first in the under 20s men’s race at Birchwood Forest Park in Warrington on Saturday.

Training partner Betteley, 20, who is studying physics at University of Leeds, came home in second place 41 seconds behind.

“I had a second place before but never a first, so this is nice,” said Humphries, who added he will switch to the senior men’s action for the next edition in 2020.

Northwich Guardian:

John Humphries, 420, and Josh Betteley, 417, at the start of the senior and under 20s men's race. Picture: Mike Boden

Both men feel as though the effort they put into athletics is rewarded on days like this.

“It’s a lot of hard work,” said Humphries.

“We’ve both had quite a few injury problems over the years, but we’ve had a fair bit of consistent training and it’s paying off for us really.”

They quit playing football when they were 15-years-old in order to focus their efforts on running.

“If you want to do well in this sport you need to dedicate yourself to it. You can’t be doing anything else,” said Betteley, who revealed he never expected to win a silver medal and switches his attentions now to the BUCS Championships in February.

“I won three years in a row but I got injured a few years ago so I’ve had a few years out and been away from it, so this is a good return to it for me.”

Betteley has been on quite a journey to be running again after being injured in a car crash.

He continues to take his recovery step by step although he harbours hopes of a trip to Tokyo next year.

“I’m classified a para athlete and I want to hopefully try to compete in the Paralympics next year,” he said.

“I’ve got my reclassification at the end of January, so we’ll see if I’m still classified.

“From the car crash at the end of 2016 I sustained serious brain damage which affects my balance and stuff.

“I’m still in the recovery stage after my accident so it could get better or it could get worse. We’ll just see how it goes.”

The pair are competitive with each other in training as well as racing and have been a helping hand to each other.

“John’s injury problems started when I had my accident so we’ve both built things back up together,” said Betteley.

“It’s nice to be sharing this success with each other now.”