10th January 2020


European Cross Country Championship team gold medallists from Lisbon will lead the way in the fourth Cross Challenge meeting of the 2019/20 season in Stirling this weekend.

The meeting, which doubles as the Home Countries and Celtic International, and the Scottish Inter District Championship, sees teams from Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland battle it out for domestic titles.

Andrew Butchart (coach: self; club: Central), who took an individual fifth place in Portugal last month to help the British team to gold in the senior men’s race, headlines the Scotland team as they hope to claim victory on home turf, with fellow team gold medallists Adam Hickey (Eamonn Martin; Southend) and Kris Jones (Swansea) looking to close the gap to Cross Challenge series leader, Mahamed Mahamed (Southampton AC).

Matt Willis (self; Wrexham), who leads the U20 men’s standings, steps up to the senior ranks for the Welsh team and will look to kick start 2020 in the right fashion by backing up his team gold in the Under-20 race in Lisbon.

Multiple Euro Cross medallist Kate Avery (Shildon) leads the senior women’s race competitors as she looks to defend her Cross Challenge title once again, alongside Lisbon team gold medallists Abbie Donnelly (Rob Lewis; Lincoln Wellington) and Jenny Nesbitt (Chris Jones; Cardiff) Avery and Donnelly will represent England, while Nesbitt is in action for Wales.

Bronwen Owen (Andrew Henderson; Leeds City) will look to back up her team bronze in the U23 race Lisbon in Scotland in the Welsh team and Dani Chattenton (Kyle Bennett; MK Distance Project) has the chance to close the gap on Avery at the top of the Cross Challenge standings as she races for the first time in 2020.

Emily Hosker-Thornhill (Mick Woods; AFD) and Mhairi MacLennan (Helen Clitheroe; Preston) will also be in the hunt for maximum points, while Izzy Fry (Mick Woods; Newbury), who won Under-20 team gold, faces off in the senior race.

Four of the six Under-20 women who won team gold in Lisbon compete in the U20 race, with Olivia Mason (Graeme Mason; Border) having the chance to retake top spot in the Cross Challenge standings, as she and Amelia Samuels (John Abbiss; Wolverhampton & Bilston) lead the England team.

Scottish duo Megan Keith (Ross Cairns; Inverness) and Cera Gemmell (John Lees; Team East Lothian) will aim to bolster their position in the rankings, as will Olivia McDonald (Sue Goode; Worthing), who heads to Scotland looking to chase down the leaders.

Gold medal winning Under-20 men’s trio from Portugal, Will Barnicoat (Trevor Raggett; Windsor Slough Eton & Hounslow), Matt Stonier (Peter Mullervy; Invicta East Kent) and Hamish Armitt (Giffnock North) do battle once again, hoping to close the gap to Willis in the penultimate race.

Thomas Keen (Mark Vile; Cambridge & Coleridge) will hope to back up his fastest ever indoor 1500m set in Sheffield last weekend with a good performance on the grass, with Nicolas Harhalakis (Mark Vile; Cambridge & Coleridge) and Josh Cowperthwaite (Martin Peevor; Middlesbrough Mandale) also expected to challenge.

Anna Hedley (Mick Woods; Fife) and Moli Lyons (Arwyn Davies; Cardiff) earn spots in the Scottish and Welsh teams respectively and will aim to close the gap to Maya Todd-McIntyre (Graham Moffatt; Rushcliffe) in the Under-17 Girls race.

Flynn Jennings (Bideford AAC) and Johnny Livingstone (Exeter) could move top of the U17 Boys standings with a win in Stirling with Oliver Smart not running, while Jenson Connell (Richard Massey; Mansfield) will look to follow on from his county triumph last weekend with another strong showing.

Jake Wilson (Andrew Carter; Vale Royal AC), Daniel Galloway (Telford AC) and Oliver Jones (Maldwyn Harriers) have the chance to climb the series rankings with those above them not in Under-15 Boys action, while in the girls equivalent, the unbeaten Kiya Dee (Highworth) has the chance to make it four wins from four, but will have to once again hold off the impressive Scarlett Livingstone (Exeter) and Elsie Robinson (Robert Griffiths; Saffron AC).

Alden Collier (Nick Hughes; Chiltern Harriers) will battle Oliver Patton (Robert Hawkins; Kilbarchan AC) and Iwan Thomas (Neil Thomas; Carmarthen) to keep hold of top spot in the Under-13 Boys standings, whilst Zoe Gilbody (Charnwood) could make it four wins from four with victory in the Under-13 Girls race. Her main competition comes from clubmate Savana Smith (Charnwood), who looks for her first series win.

The action will commence at 10:02am with the Under-11 Girls race, and the men’s Under-23 and senior race will close the programme at 1:27pm. The action will be live on the BBC Sport Website from 12:45pm, and the race will be available to watch on Vinco from 10am.

Full start lists are available here.