07 March 2013
The UK’s best cross country runners will battle it out for a place on the GB & NI team for the IAAF World Cross Country Championships as they line up at the World Cross Country Trials & Inter County Championships inc. McCain Challenge final at Birmingham’s Cofton Park on Saturday.
Louise Damen (self-coached) will go into the senior women’s race on the back of a resounding victory at the English National Cross Country Championships in Sunderland on 23rd February. The 30 year old, who finished 11th at the European Cross Country Championships in December, has been in excellent form and took victory in the previous leg of the McCain Cross Challenge Series in Cardiff.
Damen’s biggest challenges are likely to come from European Under-23 Cross Country champion Jess Coulson (Mick Woods) and Gemma Steel (John Nuttall), who won this title last year and finished third at the English National Cross Country Championships.
Northern Champion Hatti Archer (Bud Baldaro) will also pose a threat, as will Steph Twell (Mick Woods), who finished second at this event in 2012.
In the senior men’s race, Steve Vernon (David Turnbull) will look to improve on his second place finish at last month’s English National. Vernon, who represented GB & NI at the 2007 World Cross Country Championships in Kenya, has been in good form this winter and followed up a ninth place finish at the Bupa Great Edinburgh International with victory at the North of England Championships.
Frank Tickner (Clive Thomas), currently second place in the series, has been an ever present during the 2012/13 McCain Cross Challenge series having finished third in Bristol, sixth in Liverpool, fourth in Antrim and second in Cardiff. Tickner remains a point behind Andy Vernon (Nic Bideau) though; Vernon, who finished 13th at the European Cross Country Championships in December, was second in Liverpool, third in Antrim and was a runaway winner in Cardiff.
European Cross Country Championships silver medallist Emelia Gorecka (Mick Woods) will be the one to beat in the Under-20 women’s race. The 19 year old, who won bronze over 3,000m at the World Junior Championships last summer, is unbeaten during 2013 with wins at the Bupa Great Edinburgh International, the Southern Championships, BUCS Championships and English National.
Sisters Alex and Bobby Clay (both Peter Mullervy) will both step up from the Under-17 category to compete in the Under-20 race in Birmingham. Alex was fourth in the Bupa Great Edinburgh International and third in the Under-17 race at the English National last month while 15 year old Bobby won the Under-15 age group at this event last year and was first in the Under-17 race at the McCain Cardiff Cross Challenge.
Annabel Mason (John Mason) will similarly move up an age group in an attempt to qualify for the World Cross Country Championships, which will be held in Bydgoszcz, Poland, on 24th March. Mason took first in the Under-17 race at the English National Championships and finished fifth in the Under-20 race at the European Cross Country Championships in December.
In the Under-20 men’s race, series leader Jonathan Davies (Rob McKim) will hope to continue the form that saw him finish second in Bristol and first in Cardiff, as well as placing fourth at the Bupa Great Edinburgh International. Midlands Champion William Paulson (Christopher Frapwell), who competed for GB & NI at the European Cross Country Championships in Budapest, will also be eyeing a podium finish.