A look ahead to this weekend’s Saucony English Cross Country Relay Championships in Mansfield

Aldershot, Farnham & District go into Saturday’s Saucony English Cross Country Relay Championships as the club to beat after winning both senior titles in the event 12 months ago.

They will face plenty of competition, though, because this popular event will see a massive 1120 teams in attendance.

A number of big names are included in the entries, although it is something of a tradition that clubs play safe by naming large squads, many of whom do not compete.

Saying that, Charlie Purdue and Steph Twell from AFD, Steve Vernon from Stockport Harriers and Gemma Steel from Charnwood have all raced here in the past.

More unlikely to race, however, is a certain“P Radcliffe” in Bedford & County’s senior women’s squad, although the world marathon record-holder is back racing again this autumn, so who knows?

From humble beginnings at Crystal Palace in 1985, the championships has gone from strength to strength and has been staged at Berry Hill Park in Mansfield since 1989.

This is the ninth consecutive year that more than 1000 teams have entered.

For many senior and junior individuals, it acts as a build-up race ahead of the European Trials in Liverpool in late November.

As always, the course is expected to be manicured to perfection as the athletes race over an undulating surface, through a woodland section before enjoying fast ground near the change over or finish line.

The action gets underway at 11am with the under-20 women’s relay.

» See next week’s Athletics Weekly magazine for in-depth coverage