Preview: English Schools Cross Country Championships

Spotlight falls on Catton Park for English Schools event on a weekend which also sees the RunBritain grand prix kick off with the Mizuno Reading Half-marathon

English Schools (Mark Shearman)

On Saturday the spotlight falls on Catton Park on the banks of the River Trent in South Derbyshire where the 53rd boys and 45th girls English Schools Cross Country Championships will be held.

Taking place just one week before the IAAF World Cross Country Championships means the biggest teenage names will be absent, but the races will still be massively competitive.

Likely gold medal challengers include this winter’s National and Inter-Counties under-13 champions Katy-Ann McDonald of Surrey and Thomas Kendrick of Kent in the junior races, while UK U17 1500m record-holder Matt Shirling of Merseyside should put on a strong performance in the senior boys’ race.

Inter-Counties winner Harriet Knowles-Jones of Greater Manchester is also set to take part in the inter girls’ race and is one to watch, along with National winner Adam Howard of Greater Manchester in the senior boys’ event, National and Inter-Counties champ Dan Evans of Cheshire in the inter age group and Inter-Counties and 2012 English Schools champion Jonny Davies of Berkshire in the senior boys’ race – to name just a few.

The English Schools Championships is often described as a breeding ground of future champions. From the London Olympics, for example, triathlon gold medallist Alistair Brownlee won the senior boys’ cross country title in 2006, while Mo Farah won silver and gold in the inter boys’ age group in 1998 and 1999 and Ross Murray, one of the breakthrough athletes of last year, was inter boys’ gold medallist in 2007.

The 2013 event will see the first race (inter girls) take place at 12.30pm, as competitors take on a course described by organisers as “undulating pasture land, challenging, very undulating with short fairly steep uphill stretches and some longer downhill stretches, with about half the course on relatively flat land”.

Preview: Mizuno Reading Half-marathon

The RunBritain grand prix also kicks off this weekend, with the Mizuno Reading Half-marathon taking place on Sunday.

The race, which also incorporates the English Championships for 13.1 miles, has a line-up featuring a strong list of domestic runners such as Andy Vernon of Aldershot, Dave Webb of Leeds City, Antony Ford of Sale, Martin Williams of Tipton and Dave Mitchinson of Newham, while original entrant Mike Skinner is now racing the World Cross.

The international line-up is also strong, with the Bath Half one-two-three Tewodros Shiferaw of Ethiopia, Matthew Kiprotich Kimutai and Peter Emase of Kenya, plus Andrew Lesuuda and Melaku Bizuneh also in action.

The women’s field features Sonia Samuels, Holly Rush, Faye Fullerton and Kenyans Eunice Jerotich, Emily Biwott and Polline Wanjiku, the latter having won in Bath earlier this month.

RunBritain grand prix 2013 events:

- Mizuno Reading Half Marathon, March 17
- Bristol 10k, May 5
- BUPA London 10k, May 27
- Admiral Swansea Bay 10k, September 22
- Cardiff Half Marathon, October 6
- Leeds Abbey Dash, November 17

» See next week’s AW, out March 21, for results from both events as well as coverage from the English Schools Cross Country Championships

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