11th January 2019
20-STRONG BRITISH TEAM READY FOR TOUGH TEST AT GREAT STIRLING XCOUNTRY
European 1500m champion Laura Muir (coach: Andy Young; club: Dundee Hawkhill) will lead the hopes of a 20-strong British team victory in this weekend’s Simplyhealth Great Stirling Cross Country.
The prestigious international event pits senior teams from Great Britain & Northern Ireland against Europe and Team USA in an international Cross Country match.
Muir anchors the team of Jamie Williamson (George Gandy; Springburn), Alex Bell (Andrew Henderson; Pudsey & Bramley) and Phil Sesemann (Andrew Henderson; Leeds City), looking for her fifth consecutive victory in the mixed relay.
They will face off against members of Spain’s gold medal winning mixed relay team from Tilburg in the Europe squad, while Team USA field distance specialists Frankline Tonui, Stephanie Schappert, Craig Nowak and Danielle Shanahan.
Also facing off in the mixed relay race will be a junior British quartet. In a change to the original team, Matt Willis (self; Wrexham) has been replaced by European Under-18 3000m champion, Thomas Keen (Mark Vile; Cambridge & Coleridge).
He joins up Grace Brock (Cornwall AC) and Jack Meijer (Barry Hearn; Marshall Milton Keynes), both team medallist from Tilburg. European Under-18 3000m finalist Charlotte Alexander (Wayne Vinton; Herne Hill) rounds off the team.
The senior women’s squad boasts four of the Brits that took team silver at the European Cross Country Championships in December, including Kate Avery (Shildon), who claimed senior women’s victory in this event in Edinburgh in 2016, and new female parkrun record holder, Charlotte Arter (Chris Jones; Cardiff).
Team Europe will field the Under-23 women’s 1-2 from Tilburg, with Anna-Emelie Moller (DEN) and Anna Gehring (GER), who claimed gold and silver respectively, with the United States pinning most of their hopes on Marisa Howard, who was part of the USA squad that finished sixth in the IAAF World Cross Country relay in 2017.
Andy Vernon (self; Aldershot, Farnham & District), who is back after injury, which saw him miss the Euro Cross, will spearhead the British senior men’s team.
Patrick Dever (Andy Bibby; Preston) earns a first senior vest following a team silver and individual fifth place in Tilburg, with four of the six senior team silver medallists in the team.
Despite being on a new course, Team USA’s Leonard Korir is looking to become the first man to claim three consecutive wins since Kenenisa Bekele (ETH) achieved the feat in Edinburgh in 2008.
Former winner in Edinburgh Garrett Heath (USA) will also be in the mix and Olympians Ben Blankenship and Hillary Bor add more experience to the full-strength USA ranks.
Isaac Kimeli (BEL) and Aras Kaya (TUR), who claimed silver and bronze respectively in Tilburg, lead Team Europe’s charge, the latter also took a third-place finish in the Great Edinburgh Cross Country this time last year.
The event is free to spectate and will be shown live on BBC Sport from 13:15 to 15:15. For more information please visit greatrun.org/xcountry
The British Athletics team to compete at the Simplyhealth Great Stirling Cross Country on Saturday, 12 January:
Patrick Dever (Andy Bibby; Preston)
Nick Goolab (Craig Winrow; Belgrave)
Charlie Hulson (Chris Jones; Liverpool)
Kristian Jones (Swansea)
Ross Millington (Steve Vernon; Stockport)
Andy Vernon (self; Aldershot, Farnham & District)
Charlotte Arter (Chris Jones; Cardiff)
Kate Avery (Shildon)
Amy Griffiths (Rob Denmark, Aldershot, Farnham & District) *replaces Jess Piasecki who withdraws due to illness.
Emily Hosker-Thornhill (Mick Woods; Aldershot, Farnham & District)
Verity Ockenden (Tony Houchin; Swansea)
Pippa Woolven (Matt Whiting; Wycombe)
Senior Mixed Relay:
Alex Bell (Andrew Henderson; Pudsey & Bramley)
Laura Muir (Andy Young; Dundee Hawkhill)
Philip Sesemann (Andrew Henderson; Leeds City AC)
Jamie Williamson (George Gandy; Springburn)
Junior Mixed Relay:
Charlotte Alexander (Wayne Vinton; Herne Hill)
Grace Brock (Cornwall)
Thomas Keen (Mark Vile; Cambridge & Coleridge)
Jack Meijer (Barry Hearn; Marshall Milton Keynes)