The Liverpool runner proved himself to be indeed the champion, and one doubts that any runner in the country could have beaten him on the day.
The course, which was run in reverse of the usual direction, a commendable decision which cut out a feared early bottle-neck, was full of hazard.
First, over half-a-mile of flat meadow almost entirely covered by linked pools of ice (as many spectators found to their distress), the river crossing, and the difficult run up the hillside, followed by the precipitous, twisting descent to the running track, and over the river again.
Brian Craig made his usual breakaway at the start, and by the hillfoot being reached the 'names' in this race had already gathered themselves into a loosely packed bunch at the head of the field, with Ron Hill and Dave Swarbrick anxiously reaching out after the leader.
Turner wisely preferred to take the feel of the course before making his bid and on reaching the high ground, Hill who had momentarily taken the lead found that he had lived his moment as far as this race was concerned and the Liverpool Harrier was on way to victory.
Turner's speed on the descent was such as destroy any thoughts of company keeping which may have existed in the minds of his opponents and after two miles the foremost runners were reduced to single file at 20-30 yards intervals. His relentless forging ahead prevented this pattern from changing and the trailing order of Hill, Swarbrick, John Anderson (the holder) and P. Watson, of Bramley, was fixed from the end of the first of the three laps.
Merseyside's second runner, Ron Barlow, was right behind this group and running wonderfully well, certainly much better than his last appearance on this course, in November.
Meanwhile, the team position was building up, Blackpool, the winners in 1962, already weakened by the loss of Gerry North to the South, completely faded from the picture when Craig and Geoff North gave the course best, and dropped out. Gallant, Barrow A.C. were prominent in their V-necked vests, but Peter Hall, their number one, was farther back than one had expected. Manchester and District L.C. were obviously annexing points between 10 and 30, and it was clear that battle between East and West Lancashire was taking place.
The winning time of 40 mins. 25 secs. reveals that the course was about seven and a half miles, a distance which I consider should be adopted for our senior championship races over the country. Nevertheless, the programme distance is nine miles, and nine miles it should be.
Turner, at the finish, looked as if he would have enjoyed another lap or two, and finished as fresh.
Both of these races we won by Sale Harriers with their low scores of 20 and 34 respectively. In the junior race, David Jenkins, of Liverpool, was 6th, and the clubs were placed: Liverpool 7th, Sutton 11th. With Tim Johnston winning the Southern title, we have the unique situation of two athletes who train together at the University of Cambridge, winning between them the Northern and the Southern championships. This situation has probably never occurred before in a club of any kind.
What will these two do next week when they clash on a familiar course in the National championships at Cambridge. Will they be tempted to run as a team, as they have done week by week all season, Johnston will be running for his first-claim club, Portsmouth A.C., and his teammates, Hyman and Tulloh, will have impressed upon him the necessity of running without mercy if they are to beat Coventry Godiva for the team title, for Coventry are very good indeed this season.
Turner, however, is used to running with Johnston, and has happily beaten him on many occasions. His Northern win will have increased has confidence a great deal, and should he get away well from the massed stall, then the National title might come to Merseyside too.