22 November 2007
This weekend’s European Cross Country Trials, being run as part of the Liverpool Cross Challenge, will see the main field for the trial races well stocked.
Gateshead Cross Challenge winner Hayley Yelling (Windsor Slough Eton and Hounslow) will face sister-in-law Liz (Bedford & County) as well as Hatti Dean (Hallamshire), Helen Clitheroe (Preston), Natalie Harvey (South London) and Birmingham Cross Country victor Rachel Felton (Shaftesbury Barnet) in what is shaping up to be an intriguing race to see who will accompany pre-selected Kate Reed (Bristol & West) in the Senior Women’s team for the European Cross Country Championships.
Also lining up in the women’s field is Barbara Parker (City of Norwich), who will fly in from the USA on Thursday, where she studies at Florida State, to compete in her third cross country race inside two weeks. Parker, who is now coached by Karen Harvey – wife of Canadian Olympian Kevin Sullivan – finished 7th in last weeks NCAA Cross Country Championships.
Parker said: I was always planning to run Liverpool as I just happen to be home when it is on, but I had not thought about making the Euro cross team.”
“I know Liverpool will be tough, not much mud here in Florida! Also it will be my third cross race in 14 days. So I am just going to see how it goes.”
The competition for the Under 23 European Cross Country team will be just as hard fought within the women’s senior race, with Felicity Milton (Durham), last winter’s star cross country discovery, looking like the favourite to top the under 23 results. However she will find tough competition in the shape of Laura Kenney (Royal Sutton Coldfield), Morag MacLarty (Central AC) and Katrina Wootton (Bedford & County).
The Senior men’s race, with an additional place available following Mo Farah’s withdrawal from the Norwich Union GB and NI team, will be a battle royal with Tom Humphries (Cannock & Staffs) looking to be a narrow favourite following his excellent second place at the Gateshead Cross Challenge two weeks ago.
He will be well aware however that his advantage over third placed Frank Tickner (Wells City) on that occasion was just two seconds, and with Michael Skinner (Blackheath & Bromley) another eight seconds behind, the race is wide open.
Other athletes who may well feature in the mix for the trip to Toro are Phil Nicholls (Tipton), Billy Farquharson (Notts AC), Phil Wicks (Belgrave) and Peter Riley (Leigh), although as with many European Cross Country Trials, not all the athletes have revealed their hand just yet in the fledgling Cross Country season.
Likewise the Under 23 men’s team could likely feature any one of a selection of athletes who will figure high up in the senior men’s field including Andy Vernon (AFD), Tom Minshull (Trafford), Ryan Mcleod (Elswick) and Keith Gerrard (Newham & Essex Beagles). Andrew Baker – who ran in last year’s European Cross Country Championships will not be able to travel to Liverpool for this weekend’s trial, but will be hoping that his 28th place at the NCAA Cross Country Championships for Butler will have put him onto the radar of the Selectors.
The junior men and women will also keenly contest the trials races, although two places in the junior women’s team have of course already been awarded to Emily Pidgeon (Gloucester AC) and Steph Twell (AFD). Twell, who plans to compete in Liverpool as part of her preparations for her European Cross Country title defence will find competition in the shape of Birmingham Cross Country winner Sarah Waldron (Shaftesbury Barnet), Olivia Kenney (Royal Sutton Coldfield), and Gateshead cross Challenge winner Jessica Coulson (Stockport AC). The Junior men will fight over places on a clear team sheet, with Adam Hickey (Southend AC), Ricky Stevenson (New Marske), Mitch Goose (City of Norwich), Ben Lindsay (AFD) and James Trollope (Birchfield Harriers) tipped for the top positions.
Selectors will meet immediately after the event on Saturday with the Norwich Union GB and NI team for the European Cross Country Championships set to be announced on Tuesday 27 November.
For complete entry lists please visit the Liverpool Cross Challenge section of the UK Athletics website.