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birmingham set for british athletics cross challenge final

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Bobby Clay
6 March 2014

The grand finale of the 2013-14 British Athletics Cross Challenge takes place as part of the Inter-Counties Championships at Birmingham’s Cofton Park on Saturday 8 March. Situated just a stone’s throw from the MG Motors plant in Longbridge, Cofton Park offers a variety of fast flat sections and muddy undulations to test more than 2,000 athletes who will compete on the day.

Fresh from winning the English National Cross Country title two weeks ago, Steve Vernon (coach: Dave Turnbull) starts as overwhelming favourite in the senior men’s race, however he won’t have it all his own way as joint Cross Challenge series leaders Adam Hickey (Eamonn Martin) and Dewi Griffiths (Kevin Evans) also do battle for the £2,000 prize money at stake.

The senior women’s race looks set to have a first time winner in the absence of previous winners Gemma Steel (John Nuttall), Steph Twell and Charlotte Purdue (both Mick Woods). Smart money would therefore be on another Mick Woods coached athlete Lily Partridge, who has got better and better as the winter season has progressed. She’s likely to be challenged by Katie Brough (Andrew Carter) and Juliet Potter (Roy Stowell), who are both in the running for the series title.

The junior women’s race will see that regular sibling rivalry in action again as Alex and Bobby Clay (both Peter Mullervy) battle it out for both the Inter-Counties title and the overall Cross Challenge title, with Alex currently leading that race by five points.

Team Bath’s Alex Carter (Adrian Clover) currently leads the series in the junior men’s age group but will face a stern test on the day from GB & NI internationals Matt Shirling (Adrian Webb), Jamaine Coleman (Andy Bibby) and Alex George (Paul De-Camps).

Another GB & NI junior international Lydia Turner (Thomas Millmore) is the standout name in the under-17 women’s race, and she is currently tied at the top of the series standings with Heidi Davies (Phil Banning). In the under-17 men’s race, series leader Iolo Hughes (Andrew Walling) will look to continue his promising form.

After a 15 second victory at the English National, series leader Ben Dijkstra looks another strong favourite in the under-15 boys’ race, whilst fellow winner Sabrinha Singh (Mark Newell) starts as favourite in the under-15 girls’ event.

Series leaders Grace Copeland (Bob Smith) and Luke Davies (Banning) both toe the line in the under-13 races over 3,000m, the shortest of the day.

For more information, including the scoring system for the British Athletics Cross Challenge series, please click here.

For live updates from Birmingham follow @BritAthletics on Twitter and get involved using the hashtags #InterCounties and #mudisgood.

Look out for interviews and our highlights package on http://www.youtube.com/britishathleticstv shortly after the event.