A preview to the British Athletics Cross Challenge meet at Sefton Park, which incorporates the GB trials for the European Cross Country Championships

One of the highlights of the cross country calendar takes place this weekend with the Liverpool leg of the British Athletics Cross Challenge and it again doubles up as the trials for the European Cross Country Championships.

The top four finishers in the senior and under-23 women’s and men’s events will automatically book a spot on the team bound for Tilburg in Holland next month, with a further two discretionary selections being made in each.

The top five in the under-20 races qualify, with one further discretionary athlete selection added to each.

The senior women’s race looks like being a very tight affair and, in Kate Avery and Jess Piasecki, will feature two athletes starting to rediscover their best form following injury struggles.

The pair battled it out at Milton Keynes two weeks ago with Avery, twice a European Cross silver medallist, edging it over the former European under-23 champion.

Right behind them that day, however, was Jess Judd. Last year’s European Cross under-23 individual bronze and team gold medallist was runner-up in Liverpool in 2017 and will pose a very serious threat.

Gemma Steel – winner in Liverpool two years ago – is the sole member of the senior European Cross gold medal-winning women’s team to compete and will be joined in action by Charlotte Arter, Pippa Woolven, Verity Ockenden and Mhairi Maclennan.

The senior men’s event is set to feature Southampton’s Mahamed Mahamed, who leads the Cross Challenge standings after his second spot in Cardiff and recent win in Milton Keynes. Still just 21, he will be looking to make sure of his place on the under-23 line-up in Tilburg and improve on the team bronze he helped achieve last year.

Alex Teuten and Dewi Griffiths are the only two members of the senior side which took team bronze in Slovakia to feature in Liverpool and Cardiff Cross Challenge winner Adam Hickey is another who will expect to figure prominently.

Cardiff challenge winner Charlie Hulson features, too, while Mo Aadan has made a big impression on the roads this year and this time should have higher expectations than his 15th place finish in 2017. The presence of athletes like Luke Traynor and Nick Goolab further strengthen the field.

The under-20 men’s race looks set to be intriguing. Jake Heyward, Britain’s top junior miler and winner in Cardiff, faces triathlete Matthew Willis, 14th in Samorin and winner in Milton Keynes, among others.

European Cross team gold medallist Khahisa Mhlanga looks like she will take some beating in the under-20 women’s race.

» See the November 22 edition of AW magazine for our full preview, while our November 29 issue will feature in-depth coverage

LIVERPOOL TIMETABLE

10.45 2km U11 boys
One short lap plus start and finish straights

10.55 2km U11 girls
One short lap plus start and finish straights

11.05 3km U13 girls
One long lap plus start and finish straights

11.20 3km U13 boys
One long lap plus start and finish straights

11.35 3km U15 boys
One long lap plus start and finish straights

11.50 3km U15 girls
One long lap plus start and finish straights

12.05 4.4km U17 women and IAAF junior women (U20 on 31.12.18)
One short lap and one long lap plus start and finish straights

12.25 5.5km U17 men
Two long laps plus start and finish straights

12.45 6.7km IAAF junior men (U20 on 31.12.18)
Two long laps with loop each lap plus start and finish straights

13.05 8.1km Senior women (includes U23 women’s European trial)
One short lap and two long laps with loop each long lap plus start and finish straights

14.05 9.8km Senior men (includes U23 men’s European trial)
Three long laps with loop each lap plus start and finish straights