Cross country once again takes centre stage across England with the Northern, South and Midlands Cross Country Championships this weekend.
England’s best will once again lace up the spikes for the three ECCA area championships in Leeds (Northern), Brighton (South) and Nottingham (Midlands) ahead of the National XC Championships in Parliament Hill next month.
Having won back-to-back titles in 2016 and 2017, Claire Duck will be looking to make it a hat-trick of wins in the Northern women’s 8k race. The Leeds City runner recently had a convincing win at the Yorkshire Championships ahead of 800m runner Alex Bell (Pudsey and Bramley).
Georgia Taylor Brown was bronze medallist last year and is on Sale Harriers start list along with clubmate Danielle Fegan. Others to watch out for include Leeds trio Emma Clayton, Stevie Stockton and Georgia Malir, plus Leigh Harriers’ Lauren Howarth, who finished 13th at the World Cross Country Champs in 2009.
Ben Connor (Derby AC) will not be returning to defend his 2017 title in Harewood House, Leeds, and will instead focus on the road over the coming months. Silver medallist Joe Steward is on the start list. The East Cheshire Harrier competed in the European Cross Country Championships in December, finishing 25th in the U23 race.
Charlie Hulson who took the 2016 Northern cross country title at Witton Park Blackburn, comes into the race in fine form having recently won the Telford 10k. Hulson smashed his personal best breaking the tape in 29:12 at the rescheduled road race.
Stockport’s Jack Martin who represented Great Britain at the Edinburgh XCountry and is among those entered by the Manchester club and should be pushing for a medal. Elsewhere, Olympic triathletes Alistair and Jonny Brownlee are down as entries for Bingley Harriers.
Others to watch out for are Nick Swinburn and Peter Newton of Morpeth Harriers, Andy Norman and Dave Norman of Altrincham AC, plus James Wilkinson of Leeds City and Ben Fish of Blackburn Harriers.
Under 17 women – 11:00 5500m
Junior women – 12:25 6000m
Under 13 girls – 11:55 3000m
Under 17 men – 12:10 6000m
Under 13 boys – 12:40 3000m
Under 15 girls – 12:55 4000m
Under 15 boys – 13:20 4000m
Junior men – 13:40 8000m
Senior women – 14:15 8000m
Senior men – 15:05 12000m
South of England
The Southern event heads to Stanmer Park in Brighton this year, with the usual venue Parliament Hill, earmarked for the National Cross Country Championships in February.
Should he run, Andy Maud will be a strong favourite after winning individual and club titles last year at Parliament Hill. The Highgate Harriers runner has impressed at the Start Fitness Surrey League this year and won the last race held at Coulsdon. On that day he beat a strong field including John Gilbert, Nicholas Tory and Paskar Owar.
Emily Hosker Thornhill had a race right until the line last year, just beating clubmate Louise Small by one second to win the women’s title.
Their duo’s club, Aldershot, Farnham & District, also won the team title. Small went on to finish second in the National Cross Country Championships and the InterCountess, before competing at the World Cross Country Championships for Great Britain.
A notable absence on Saturday will be Tonbridge AC. The club has taken the decision to boycott the area championships calling for a better level of service from the regional body.
Under 15 boys – 11:00 4500m
Under 13 girls – 11:20 3000m
Under 13 boys – 11:35 3000m
Under 15 girls – 11:50 4000m
Under 17 men – 12:10 6000m
Junior women – 12:40 6000m
Under 17 women – 13:05 5000m
Junior men – 13:30 8000m
Senior women – 14:05 8000m
Senior men – 14:50 15000m
Alex Breaker will look to defend his 2017 Midland title on Saturday in Wollaton Park, Nottingham. The City of Stoke runner has shown great form in 2018 so far with two wins to his name, including the Staffordshire County Championships.
Last year’s silver medallist Jonathon Thewlis of Notts AC will make a return to racing after missing most of last year due to illness. Clubmate Alistair Watson could well be the one to watch having recently run 30:17 on the roads at the Telford 10k.
In the senior women’s race, Charnwood’s Juliet Potter, City of Stokes Katie Holt and Birchfield Harrier Chloe Richardson will again do battle for the medals.
Under 17 women – 11:00 5000m
Under 15 boys – 11:25 4000m
Under 13 girls – 11:45 3000m
Under 17 men – 12:05 6000m
Under 13 boys – 12:30 3000m
Under 15 girls – 12:45 4000m
Junior women – 13:05 6000m
Junior men – 13:35 8000m
Senior women – 14:20 8000m
Senior men – 15:00 12000m