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UK Athletics

UK Cross Challenge fixtures 2007-8

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The UK Cross Challenge series is being trimmed next winter to make it more attractive to leading endurance athletes.


The series, which had been credited with playing a huge part in the increasing number of medals won by Norwich Union Great Britain and Northern Ireland teams at European Cross Country Championships over the last decade, is without a title sponsor.


This means it is being financed by UK Athletics. But entry figures, particularly in the senior races, over the last two winters have given a strong message that prize levels must be moved up to match those of road races if standards are to be maintained.


So the UKA Endurance Event Management Group has decided to stage four meetings for Seniors, Under 20s, Under 17s, Under 15s and Under 13s next winter:


  • at the Gateshead International, which returns to the calendar on 10 November;


  • when the European Trials are staged in Sefton Park, Liverpool, on 24 November;


  • with the IAAF Permit meeting at Stormont, Belfast, on 5 January;


  • the finals incorporated into the UK Inter-Counties Championships in Wollaton Park, Nottingham, on 15 March.


UKA Senior Coordinator for Endurance Spencer Barden said: “In an ideal world, there would also be a meeting in February to maintain the momentum. We attempted to move the Cardiff meeting, but it would have clashed with the Wales v Scotland and we would have not been able to find accommodation.


“We were also extremely conscious that the fixture list during that period is packed with championships and the Edinburgh International.


“But the most important aspect is the UK Cross Challenge prize structure, which is key to attracting more of our leading senior athletes. After all, the purpose of the series is to encourage our best and most ambitious athletes to improve by racing against each other frequently.


“This has not been happening because non-Lottery funded athletes have found it more lucrative to race abroad or on the roads over the past couple of years. We will now be able to increase Cross Challenge rewards by sharing the budget among fewer meetings. The prize structure will be announced in a few weeks.”


The first Cross Challenge series, 10 years ago, contained four meetings. Since then it has fluctuated between four and six. And Barden said: “No doubt there will be changes in the future – in venues and quantity – as we continue to react to the needs of the athletes.”