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mud is good for the winter season

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Jess Coulson wins the European Cross Under-23 women's race

With a memorable 2013 track season now at a close, attention turns to cross country and the 2013-14 season is sure to be filled with drama and excitement as some of Britain’s best distance runners slog it out on the mud and hills.

An action packed cross country season gets underway in earnest with the first leg of the British Athletics Cross Challenge in Bristol on 27 October. Athletes will be able to win Cross Challenge points whilst testing out their early season form at the scenic Ashton Court Estate.

Attention will then turn to the Liverpool Cross Challenge on 23 November where Britain’s best distance runners will battle it out for places on the GB & NI team for the European Cross Country Championships, which take place in Belgrade, Serbia, on 8 December.

The GB & NI team has topped the medal table for the last five years at the European Cross Country Championships and won two gold, three silver and five bronze medals in 2012. Every member of the British team has come home with a medal for four out of the last five years and hopes will be high for a repeat performance this time round.

Jess Coulson was the only British individual winner last year, taking gold in the under 23 women’s race, but the GB & NI team is likely to be filled with medal winning potential this time round.

The likes of Emelia Gorecka and Jessica Judd could lead the challenge in the under 20 women’s race. GB & NI won a fantastic team bronze in this race at the World Cross Country Championships in Poland earlier this year thanks to top 20 finishes from Gorecka and Georgia Taylor-Brown and will surely be favourites to defend their European team title in December.

With the biennial World Cross Country Championships not taking place this season, the only other international opportunity for British athletes will come at the Bupa Great Edinburgh International Cross Country on 11 January where GB & NI senior and junior teams will take on the USA and a European Select team.

This famous event has seen victories from Mo Farah, Kenenisa Bekele and Tirunesh Dibaba in recent years and promises to be another exhibition of the best cross country runners from across Great Britain and the world.

The Cross Challenge will take centre stage again in the New Year with events hosted in Antrim and Cardiff on 4 and 19 January respectively. Britain’s best will continue to build up points ahead of the British Athletics Inter Counties Cross Country Championships and Cross Challenge Final at Birmingham’s Cofton Park on 8 March, where points will count for double and the winners in each age group will be crowned.

There will also be the usual domestic fixtures in the calendar with county championships, national and regional championships offering cross country runners of all levels a huge amount of potential action. With just three weeks until the first Cross Challenge event of the year, are you ready to get muddy?

For more information on the British Athletics Cross Challenge click here.

For selection policies and more information on the 2013-14 winter season click here.