18 January 2013
Following third place finishes at the Bupa Great Edinburgh International Cross Country and the McCain Antrim Cross Challenge, Andy Vernon (coach: Nic Bideau) will start as one of the favourites in the senior men’s race at the McCain Cardiff Cross Challenge on Sunday.
Vernon’s biggest threat is likely to come from current series leader Frank Tickner (Clive Thomas), who was fourth in Antrim and finished third and sixth at the Bristol and Liverpool legs of the McCain Cross Challenge.
Adam Hickey (Eamonn Martin) and Dewi Griffiths (Kevin Evans) both represented GB&NI in Edinburgh at the start of the month and the in-form Ben Livesey (David Lawrence), who was a runaway winner in last weekend’s Birmingham and District Cross Country league, could upset the form book in Cardiff.
Two members of GB&NI’s bronze medal winning team from December’s European Cross Country Championships will line up in a highly competitive senior women’s race. Louise Damen (self-coached) led GB&NI to their bronze medal with an 11th place finish in Budapest, while Emily Wicks (Keith Donkin) came home in 33rd.
2012 Inter-Counties and National Cross Country champion Gemma Steel (John Nuttall) will make her first cross country appearance of the winter on Sunday and will hope to challenge Damen for top spot. Hatti Archer (Bud Baldaro), an experienced cross country runner with second place finishes in both the Inter-Counties and National Cross Country Championships to her name, will also be one to watch out for in Cardiff this weekend.
Annabel Gummow (Neville Taylor) won the junior women’s race in Cardiff last January and will be looking to make a successful transition into the senior ranks while 23 year old Naomi Taschimowitz (Charlotte Fisher), fourth last year, will challenge for another top five placing. In one of the most competitive races of the day, there are further recent GB&NI representatives in the form of Emily Pidgeon (Mick Woods) and Beth Potter (Mick Woods).
Jonathan Davies (Rob McKim) finished second at the McCain Bristol Cross Challenge back in October and after leading the way for GB&NI’s junior men in Edinburgh with an impressive fourth place finish he looks set to be the man to beat again Sunday. However, with current McCain Cross Challenge series leader William Paulson (Christopher Frapwell) and Benedict Westhenry (Tom Watson), fourth overall in the series, Davies can expect a difficult challenge in Cardiff.
McCain Antrim Cross Challenge junior women’s winner and overall series leader Becky Straw (Bud Baldaro) will this time have to contend with Alex Clay (Peter Mullervy) and her sister Bobby (Peter Mullervy), fourth and fifth respectively in Edinburgh, as well as Annabel Mason (John Mason) who was sixth in Edinburgh and finished second Brit behind Emelia Gorecka (Mick Woods) as she came in fifth overall at the European Cross Country Championships in December.
There is a full timetable of age group races beginning with the under-17 women's race at 11:15am.