Fionnuala McCormack will open her cross country season at the Cross Internacional de Atapuerca in Burgos, Spain on Sunday (November 12).
McCormack, a two-time European Cross Country Champion will be joined in Spain by fellow Olympian Kerry O’Flaherty and Newcastle and District clubmate Zak Hanna.
McCormack and O’Flaherty take on a strong field that includes Steff Twell and Rebecca Murray from the United Kingdom, Gebeyenesh Ayele and Oljira Beleynesh of Ethiopia, Trihas Gebre the Ethiopian who runs for Spain, and Ruth Jebet, the Kenyan who runs in Bahrain colours.
McCormack finished an excellent fifth in this 8km race last year.
Newcastle’s Hanna competes in the men’s race where Ayalew Aweke the Ethiopian who runs for Bahrain, will wear the No 1 vest. Ranked No 2 is Awel Muktar Edris of Ethiopia. British athlete Alexys Teuten has also entered.
On a quiet domestic athletics weekend across the island of Ireland, the Leinster Cross Country Championships in Wexford and the Northern Ireland and Ulster Uneven Age Group and Novice XC Championships in Stranorlar, Co Donegal, are the leading races.
In the Northern Ireland and Ulster Novice Championships, Conor McIlveen and John McQuade both from Derry Track Club, and Letterkenny’s Ciaran McGonigle lead the men’s entry.
Among those likely to feature in the women’s race are Edel Monaghan of Enniskillen RC, Amy Hamill from Glaslough Harriers, Elaine Connor of Derry Track Club and Leoni Mullen of host club Finn Valley.
Athletes to watch out for in the U19 men’s race include Newcastle’s Patrick McNiff, Craig McMeechan of North Down, Sean Corry from Omagh Harriers and Jack O’Farrell of St Colman’s Newry. Enya Haigney from Derry Track Club leads the women’s U19 entry.
Quite who will turn up for the Leinster Championships is anyone’s guess, although Una Britton and Shiofra O’Flaherty are expected in the senior women’s race.
Last year’s winners were Mark Christie of Mullingar Harriers and Donore veteran Barbara Cleary. Neither athlete is racing at the moment. Strong teams are expected from Raheny Shamrock, Donore Harriers, Tullamore Harriers and Mullingar Harriers.
A large squad from Dublin club Dundrum South Dublin competes in the second round of the British Athletics Cross Challenge in Milton Keynes on Saturday, November 11.
The opening round took place in Cardiff, with further rounds in Liverpool and Antrim before final in Loughborough. The DSD athletes will also compete in Antrim. Good performances are expected from Abbie Taylor W17, Eimear Maher W15, Morgan Clarkson and Alex Flynn M15.
Paul O’Donnell, who won the Dublin junior title last week, is hoping for a top six placing in a strong U20 field.
On Friday (November 10), Siofra Cleirigh Buttner of Dundrum South Dublin is part of the Villanova team competing in the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Region cross-country qualifier in Lehigh. Villanova are the top-ranked team after winning their first Big East title since 2011 two weeks ago.
Cleirigh Buttner finished seventh in this race last year but is not in that kind of form at the moment.
Competing at the NCAA South Region Championships, hosted by the University of Alabama, is an Ole Miss team led by Sean Tobin from Clonmel, a member of the exclusive list of Irish sub-4-minute milers. He finished 10th in this race last year. The top two teams from each region qualify for the NCAA Cross-Country Championships in Louisville, Kentucky on Saturday November 18.
Also taking place today, a month earlier than usual, is the SIAB Schools International Combined Events Championships in the Emirates Stadium Glasgow. Ireland has traditionally produced good results at this competition, although the English team is expected to dominate. Scotland and Wales also compete.
Shona Heaslip of the Riocht club in Kerry continued her preparations for the Irish National Cross Country Championships by finishing second at last weekend’s EasyKit Cross Cup round in Mol Belgium.
Race winner was Katarzyne Rutkowska of Poland in 19 mins 30 secs. The 23-year-old Heaslip was seven seconds adrift for second place with Dutch athlete Jill Holterman three seconds behind for third. Next round of the series is on November 26 – the same day as the Irish National Championships.