Fionnuala McCormack, Andy Vernon and Gemma Steel are among those in action at the penultimate meet in the Cross Challenge series

Now in its 41st year, Saturday’s Antrim International in Northern Ireland, an IAAF Cross Country Permit event, is the penultimate meet in the British Athletics Cross Challenge series.

After being held in various venues since it began in Mallusk in 1977, it will be staged this weekend for the ninth year at the CAFRE Greenmount Campus.

The senior women’s race sees former European champions Gemma Steel of Great Britain and Fionnuala McCormack of Ireland squaring off. But they will face tough opposition from Ethiopia’s Birtukan Adamu, who finished third last year just one second ahead of McCormack who had been hampered by a lost shoe.

Welsh athletes in action include Jenny Nesbitt and Alaw Beynon-Thomas, while entries also include Kenya’s world 5000m fifth-placer Margaret Chelimo Kipkemboi and Ethiopians Alemitu Hawi and Fotyen Tesfay.

The men’s race is set to feature track star Timothy Cheruiyot, Kenya’s world 1500m silver medallist from 2017, as he lines up against world 3000m steeplechase silver medallist Soufiane El Bakkali of Morocco and European under-23 1500m champion Pieter-Jan Hannes.

British athletes include Andy Vernon, who is rounding into good form after finishing ninth in the high quality BOclassic race in Italy on New Year’s Eve, plus  Luke Traynor and Kris Jones, although Dewi Griffiths has withdrawn due to a hamstring injury.

The event also incorporates the Celtic Cross Country International with teams from Scotland, Wales, Ireland and Northern Ireland/Ulster, while there will be a full programme of supporting races from primary school age upwards for both boys and girls.

Timetable

11:00 U13 girls (1800m)
11:15 U13 boys (1800m)
11:30 U15 girls (3600m)
11:55 U15 boys (3600m)
12:25 U20/17 women (3600m)
12:55 Primary school girls (1100m)
13:10 U20/17 men (5400m)
13:40 Primary school boys (1100m)
13:55 Senior/masters women (5400m)
14:20 Senior/masters men (8000m)
Information correct at time of publication

» See @AthleticsWeekly on Twitter for event updates, while the January 11 issue of AW will include in-depth reports, photos and results