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UK Athletics

High quality preparation for World Cross Country planned

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UK Athletics has made detailed arrangements to ensure the selected senior athletes are prepared thoroughly to take their places in the Norwich Union Great Britain and Northern Ireland Team at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships being staged in Mombasa, Kenya, on Saturday 24 March.


The pathway starts at the World Trials being incorporated into the BUSA Cross Country Championships at the University of Bath on Saturday 3 February and is intended to end with the teams producing the best performance of which they are capable in steamy Mombasa.


In this context, the selectors note that a number of key senior athletes have not entered the Trials and have made themselves unavailable for the World Championships.


For example, only three of the Norwich Union Great Britain and Northern Ireland Team that finished fourth in the Senior Men’s race at the SPAR European Cross Country Championships in December have entered the Trials. In addition, Jon Brown has decided to concentrate on preparing for the Flora London Marathon. European Champion Mo Farah is pre-selected for the Worlds and Chris Thompson will not be at the Trials but might be available for World Cross selection.


Similarly, only two of the Norwich Union GB team that finished second in the Senior Women’s race at the Europeans have entered the Trials. Hayley Yelling, who led home the team, who led home the team, and Jo Pavey are pre-selected for the Worlds, while Kate Reed and Felicity Milton are expected in Bath.


If there are any other athletes not competing in the Trials who wish to be considered for the Team, they need to contact the UK Athletics Senior Coordinator for Endurance Spencer Barden by email at sbarden@ukathletics.org.uk.


The selectors will meet immediately after the Trials to name the Senior Team in order that all athletes have opportunities to prepare properly for the hot and humid conditions in Mombasa. While there is scope for nine men and six women, the selection policy published at the start of the winter by UK Athletics, the governing body that is committed to driving up standards in all events, emphasises athletes should be of the appropriate standard to contest what are accepted to be the hardest races in the athletics calendar.


So the selectors will be seeking at the Trials athletes capable of maintaining or improving the Norwich Union GB Team’s status. In this respect, it should be borne in mind that the men’s team was 16th and the women’s team 7th at last year’s World Championships in Fukuoka.


All selected Senior athletes will be given opportunities by UK Athletics to prepare at a warm weather camp in Durban, South Africa. Accepting that athletes studying at universities or in full-time employment will require flexibility, UKA has arranged for them to be able to fly out to Durban on either 5 March or 12 March to acclimatise. Any senior athletes who are unable to travel to the Durban camp will be required to show they have gained the necessary heat acclimatisation before competing in Mombasa.


Barden recently spent two days at the camp to make sure the facilities will be suitable and says: “Durban offers the perfect training environment for athletes preparing for the World Cross.”


He stayed at a hotel on the banks of the Umgeni River, about 5km from the city centre, within jogging distance of a golf course, all-weather track, Virgin Active gym and sports medical centre. It is also close to the beach and to good flat road running. “The vast majority of runs can be done from the hotel door,” reports Barden.


Temperatures will range from 30 to 40° Celsius with high levels of humidity (80%+). Sunrise will be 4am and sunset around 6.30pm – “the ideal climate for athletes preparing for the expected suppressive conditions in Mombasa,” says Barden.


But first, athletes have to impress the selectors at the Trials.