A preview to English, Scottish, Welsh and Northern Ireland events at Harewood House, Callendar Park, Pembrey Country Park and Lurgan Park
This Saturday, national cross country championships action takes place across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland at Harewood House, Callendar Park, Pembrey Country Park and Lurgan Park.
Here we take a look ahead to each event:
Saucony English National Cross Country Championships, Harewood House
The English National makes its debut at Harewood House on the outskirts of Leeds, with over 9000 athletes entered for the 10 races.
Adam Hickey is entered in the senior men’s race but a successful defence of his title may be difficult after an ankle injury prevented him training for many weeks and he reinjured himself in the South race at Parliament Hill.
Inter-Counties senior winner and last year’s junior champion Mahamed Mahamed should be a factor, though Alex Yee will be a real force should he make his senior National debut and run in a strong Kent AC team.
Area champions Henry Pearce (South), Emile Cairess (North) and Jack Gray (Midlands) are all hopeful of gaining their first National medals.
Pearce is part of a Tonbridge team looking to successfully defend their team gold while 2018 runners-up Bristol, Midland winners Notts, North winners Sale and South champions Aldershot all have strong squads.
In the senior women’s event, last year’s National and Inter-Counties winner Phoebe Law, who has been out of action most of the winter, is not entered but 2018 runner-up Louise Small and third-placed Iona Lake should be in the medal hunt again.
Emilia Gorecka, who is entered but hasn’t confirmed if she is running, has won everything at all junior levels but still needs a senior title to complete the set. Her Aldershot team-mate Emily Hosker Thornhill is another potential medallist.
On current form South of England champion Pippa Woolven looks to be the favourite but will be making her senior National debut.
Former National winner Jess Judd competes, as does Midlands winner Katie Holt.
Junior entries include Thomas Mortimer, Lachlan Wellington, Amelia Quirk, Grace Brock and Sabrina Sinha.
11:00: Under-17 women – 5km
11:25: Under-15 boys – 4km
11:45: Under-13 girls – 3km
12:05: Under-17 men – 6km
12:30: Under-13 boys – 3km
12:45: Under-15 girls – 4km
13:05: Junior women – 6km
13:35: Senior women – 8km
14:20: Junior men – 10km
15:00: Senior men – 12km
Lindsays Scottish National Cross Country Championships, Callendar Park
There is some fine racing in prospect at Callendar Park in Falkirk, with some high quality athletes taking their place among the impressive 2458 names which have entered across the events.
Olympian Steph Twell, English National champion in 2010, will be looking to complete a very special double by adding the Scottish title to her list of honours.
However, she will be up against the in-form defending champion Mhairi Maclennan over the same 10km course on which the senior men race.
The 2017 champion Morag Millar also features, as does Steph Pennycook, Fiona Brian and multiple winner Freya Ross.
Kristian Jones is the defending champion but has been battling Achilles trouble. He will be up against the likes of Olympic marathon runner and former champion Derek Hawkins, last year’s runner-up Lachlan Oates, third-placed Andy Douglas and Luke Traynor.
Set to contest the under-20 races are Anna Macfadyen, Eloise Walker, Freddie Carcas and Cameron Wright.
11:00: Under-13 girls – 3.1km
11:16: Under-13 boys – 3.1km
11:32: Under-15 girls – 4.1km
11:53: Under-15 boys – 4.1km
12:15: Under-17 men – 6km
12:25: Under-17 women – 6km
13:00: Senior women – 10km
13:55: Under-20 men – 7.5km
14:00: Under-20 women – 7.5km
14:50: Senior men – 10km
Welsh Cross Country Championships, Pembrey Country Park
This edition has seen the largest entry for some years and athletes are set to be tested over a technical and looping course at the scenic country park near Llanelli in south west Wales.
Swansea Harrier Dewi Griffiths is likely to chase a seventh senior men’s title as he edges ever closer to Steve Jones’ record nine victories.
International steeplechaser Ieuan Thomas is another notable entry with the Cardiff man also edging back to fitness.
Triathlete Morgan Davies, track specialist Guy Smith, club captain Marc Hobbs and 2018 runner up Phil Matthews will be the most likely to help Griffith’s Harriers team to defend their team title.
Cardiff AAC’s James Hunt is the defending champion following victory in Swansea 12 months ago.
The senior women’s race could see an exciting duel between 2016 champion Caryl Jones of Swansea and Jenny Nesbitt of Worcester AC, who won the Nos Galan Road Races at the end of last year.
Sian Edwards and Alaw Beynon-Thomas will add to the Swansea Harriers team strength as they also look to defend their team title. Cardiff AAC are less likely to challenge here despite having won in 2017.
The under-20 women’s race will feature last year’s silver and bronze medallists in search of top honours this time. Deeside AAC’s Martha Owen was the athlete in second with Laura Wright of Cardiff AAC just behind in third.
The under-20 men’s race was won by Englishman Connor Smith of Swansea Harriers, while Dominic Smith claimed the Welsh title on that occasion. They will face a worthy opponent in Menai Track & Field AC’s Oliver Barbaresi.
11:00: Under-13 boys – 3.15km
11:15: Under-13 girls – 3.15km
11:30: Under-15 boys – 4.54km
11:50: Under-15 girls – 4.54km
12:15: Senior women – 7.36km
13:10: Primary boys – 1.55km
13:25: Primary girls – 1.55km
13:40: Under-17 men – 5.15km
14:05: Under-17/20 women – 5.15km
14:35: Under-20 men – 7.36km
15:10: Senior men – 10.35km
Northern Ireland & Ulster Senior Cross Country Championships, Lurgan Park
Rio Olympic marathoner Breege Connolly and UK Masters champion Mark McKinstry are firm favourites for the NI & Ulster event taking place in Country Armagh.
Connolly will be joined by Commonwealth Games athlete Emma Mitchell and North Down AC pair Jessica Craig and Rachel Gibson as well as Beechmount Harriers’ duo Catherine Diver and Sarah Lavery.
North Down should retain their stranglehold on the team title as they will also have the services of Katie Moore and Sarah Grant.
Last year’s winner Declan Reed will also be contending for the top spot in the men’s race.
North Belfast Harriers’ McKinstry will be supported by team-mates Conan McCaughey and Conal McCambridge with the club the favourite for the team award.
13:30: Senior women – 6km
14:15: Senior men – 12km
» See our website and social media channels for updates from the championships, while our February 28 magazine will include reports, photos and results