26th November 2015

Stage Set For The Liverpool Cross Challenge

27 November 2015

The second stage in the British Athletics Cross Challenge takes place in Liverpool on Saturday 28 November which incorporates the trials for the European cross country championships held on December 13.

There are a record number of entries for the race which means selection for the championships in Hyeres, France will be fierce with the senior women’s/U23 women’s race one of the standout races of the weekend. 2014 European cross country champion Gemma Steel (coach: John Nuttall, Charnwood), who won an enthralling battle over Kate Avery (Tony Simmons, Shildon) in Samokov last December will both be looking to book their spots on the British team.

Steph Twell (Mick Woods, Aldershot Farnham & District), who won a test event on the Hyeres course last weekend, will go into the race in confident mood. The Scot captained the British team in 2014 so will have her eyes set on confirming qualification this time around. Milton Keynes winner Louise Damen (self-coached, Winchester) will also be one to watch over the 8.1km course.

After a successful track season where she moved up to second in the women’s 1500m UK all-time list behind Kelly Holmes, Laura Muir (Andy Young, Dundee Hawkshill) will face muddier surrounding on Merseyside. The U23 athlete will take on double Euro cross junior champion Emelia Gorecka (Woods, AFD) who is returning from injury, last year’s junior silver medallist, Jess Judd (George Gandy, Chelmsford) and a host of other contenders.

The senior men’s race will be a highly contested affair with a number of athletes seeking a Cross Challenge victory and a spot on the British team in France. Andy Butchart (Derek Easton), second at the Liverpool event in 2014, will be one of the favourites after a breakthrough season. The Central AC athlete, who has seen rapid improvements over the last 12 months, will face strong competition from the likes of Jonny Taylor (Gordon Surtees, Morpeth), Dewi Griffiths (Kevin Evans, Swansea) and Adam Hickey (Eamonn Martin, Southend) who all performed solidly at the first fixture of the Challenge in Milton Keynes.

However, one of the favourites for the combined senior/U23 race will be Jonathan Davies (Rob McKim, RunFast/Reading), who will be looking for a place in the British U23 team next month. Davies secured a dominant win at the Milton Keynes event and after running the fastest leg at the English National Cross Country relays earlier this month, he is an athlete in form.

In the junior women’s race, Bobby Clay (Rob Denmark, Invicta East Kent) will be the one to watch after a commanding performance at the first Cross Challenge event this season. The European junior 1500m champion blew away the competition three weeks ago and will be targeting a similar outcome on Saturday. Harriet Knowles-Jones (Paul Roden, Warrington) and European junior 1500m silver medallist Amy Griffiths (Woods, AFD) will offer the strongest threat to the Loughborough-based athlete.

Another winner from Milton Keynes, Mahamed Mahamed (Peter Haynes, Southampton) will lead the junior men’s field with world junior duathlon champion Ben Dijkstra (Leicester Corinthians), who lost out to the Southampton athlete at Teardrop Lakes, another contender for title. 2014 junior men’s Cross Challenge champion Jonathan Glen (Mark Pollard, Inverclyde/Glasgow City) will begin the defence of his overall title tomorrow.

There will be a whole host of cross country races at Sefton Park on Saturday with action starting at 11am with the U11 races.

Full entry lists and more information about the Liverpool Cross Challenge can be found via the link: http://www.britishathletics.org.uk/competitions/the-british-athletics-cross-challenge/

Follow @BritAthletics on Twitter for updates on all the races. There will be a full report on the British Athletics website shortly after the final event.