25 October 2012
The McCain Bristol Cross Challenge - staged by runbristol in partnership with Bristol & West AC and UKA - kicks off the 2012 McCain Cross Challenge Series this Sunday (28 October) at the tough Ashton Court venue.
After the withdrawal of Jonny Hay (Mick Woods), leading entries in the senior men’s race include Phil Nicholls (Bud Baldaro), defending Bristol champion Frank Tickner (Clive Thomas), the 2011/12 overall Series winner, and James Wilkinson (Phil Townsend).
In the women’s event, Caryl Jones (George Edwards) - who has been a real success story on the roads in particular in 2012 - will go up against experienced international cross country athletes Naomi Taschimowitz (Charlotte Fisher), Louise Damen (self) and Emily Wicks (Keith Donkin).
Jones opened 2012 with a second place finish in the McCain Cardiff Cross Challenge in January and finished sixth in the Cross Challenge Final in Birmingham, where she arguably took the strong field by surprise.
On the track and road she clocked multiple PBs across the summer and her good form contributed to her making her GB & NI debut at the IAAF World Half Marathon Championships earlier this month where she finished tenth in 71:52, only marginally slower than her best ever time recorded at the Bupa Great North Run in September (71:18).
"I'm really pleased with how I've progressed this year,” she said. “2012 started with some really positive performances in the McCain Cross Challenge events in Cardiff and Birmingham, so I hope I can progress my performances from last season and take my form from the track and roads into the 2012/13 cross country season, starting this weekend in Bristol.”
Jones has a realistic chance of making the GB & NI team for December’s European Cross Country Championships in Budapest, Hungary, with the Trial incorporated into round two of the McCain Cross Challenge in Liverpool on Saturday 24 November.
Taschimowitz - the European Cross under-23 silver medallist in Slovenia 12 months ago - Damen and Wicks have all earned international cross country honours over the past two years and should create an exciting race, alongside Jones, in Bristol, subject to their early season fitness.
In addition, it’s worth noting the return of former European Cross team medallist Laura Whittle/Kenney (George Gandy), an impressive 13th place finisher in the 2008 European Cross in Brussels, who hasn’t raced competitively for 16 months but will return to action this weekend.
In the senior men’s race, Nicholls, a member of the 2010 GB & NI European Cross team and unbeaten since June, will be a contender, while returning champion Tickner, an absentee from competition since the summer but one of the most consistent British cross country performers in recent years, will start the defence of his McCain Cross Challenge Series title and cannot be ruled out.
Wilkinson, runner up in the 2011 European Cross Country (under-23), is due to make a welcome return to competition following an injury which has kept him out since July.
In the age group events, World Junior 800m silver medallists Jessica Judd (Rob Denmark) - who opted out of the European Cross last year - is the standout entrant (under-20) as she opens her individual cross country campaign for the winter, while 2011 Bristol under-17 champions Becky Straw (Bud Baldaro) and Jonathan Davies (Rob McKim) step up to the under-20 category.
ISF World Schools Cross Country Champion and National Cross Country Champion (under-15) Bobby Clay (James Roberts) lines up in the under-17 women’s event alongside her equally talented sister Alex (Peter Mullervy) , runner-up as an under-17 in the English National this year.
2012 under-15 Bristol winner Paulos Asgodom also steps up an age group (under-17) while Elisabeth Hood (Mark Pauley) has the opportunity to defend her title in the under-15 category.
Follow @UKA_athletics on Twitter for results, photos and interviews from the McCain Cross Challenge Series, plus spot yourself in our highlights video on www.youtube.com/ukatvofficial which will be available two days after the event.
The Series continues at the McCain Liverpool Cross Challenge, which incorporates the European Cross Country Trials, on Saturday 24 November, followed by Antrim on 12 January 2013, Cardiff on 20 January 2013 and concluding with the McCain UK Cross Challenge Final and UK Inter Counties, incorporating the IAAF World Cross Country Trials, on Saturday 9 March 2013.
For full details, including the breakdown of prize money which exceeds £30,000 in total, check out the McCain Cross Challenge section on the UKA website and select ‘prize fund’.
To view the UKA selection policies for the 2012/13 cross country season, follow the link.