20th January 2011


20 January 2011

International athletes are thrown into the mix this weekend at the Antrim IAAF International Cross, incorporating the McCain Cross Challenge, as they take on the GB regulars for coveted titles.

On Saturday 22 January International, Aviva GB&NI team and England representatives will take to the hills of Greenmount, Antrim to contest the annual Northern Irish event.

Filled with winning intentions and steely motives, the British offering for the women’s Elite race is made up of usual cross country customers including SPAR European Cross Country U23 winner and two times McCain Cross Challenge victor Charlotte Purdue (coach: Mick Woods), currently nominated as European Athlete of the month for January, Gemma Steel (coach: Roy Stowell), Laura Kenney (coach: George Gandy), Sonia Samuels (coach: George Gandy), Stevie Stockton (coach: George Gandy) and Louise Damen (self-coached).

As the third of four McCain Cross Country events planned to lead us into the IAAF World Cross Country Championships, Antrim will host return performances from Kenney and Stockton, named in this year’s line-up and looking to improve on ninth and twelfth finishes, respectively, the previous year.

No doubt Damen and Steel will also look to build on their respective 17th and 27th placings at the European Cross before Christmas.

They will be up against tough competition from internationals Cristina Casandra (ROM) and Rafaela Almeida (POR) plus a Kenyan pace determined by Ester Chemtai (KEN). None have competed at Antrim before, but all have impressive cross country and endurance CVs to boast of.

In the men’s elite race Andy Vernon (coach: Nick Anderson) returns to the course following his second place result last year. His fifth place BUPA Great Edinburgh Cross Country outing earlier this month made up some ground, following a disappointing withdrawal at the European Cross with stomach cramps, but Vernon will want to make amends and make up some ground on his way to Spain for the World Cross.

Consistent Tom Humphries (coach: Phil Clamp) steps out in the elite field with a 15th place European Cross and 16th place Edinburgh run under his belt this season.

The Brits are joined by a host of international talent including last year’s Antrim winner Mike Kigen (KEN), 2010 BUPA Great Edinburgh Cross winner Titus Mbishei (KEN) and Dennis Masai (KEN) younger brother of women’s 10,000m champion World Champion Linet.

Race reports and results will be posted after the race.