7th March 2018
PREVIEW: INTER-COUNTIES AND CROSS CHALLENGE FINAL
This Saturday (10 March) marks the British Athletics Inter Counties Cross Country Championships and the Cross Challenge Final at Prestwold Hall, Loughborough with some of the best domestic runners battling for the top prizes.
With double points on offer at the final, Verity Ockenden (coach: Tony Houchin, county: Dorset) leads the way in the senior women’s standings of the Cross Challenge so far, largely thanks to some encouraging results throughout the series. She was first Briton home in Antrim, coupled with a second place in Cardiff and a third place in Milton Keynes. Jess Judd – currently second place in the standings – will miss the event to concentrate on preparations for the Commonwealth Games.
It will be an interesting senior women’s race with English National champion Phoebe Law (Mick Woods, Surrey) and Louise Damen (self-coached, Hampshire) amongst the entries.
The senior men’s race will be a tight affair with Sam Stabler (Rob Denmark, Leicester & Rutland) and Mahamed Mahamed (Peter Haynes, Hampshire) on 108 points each but the highly experienced Andy Vernon (Nic Bideau, Hampshire) is just one point behind on 107. Stabler and Mahamed shared wins in the opening two fixtures whilst Vernon led the way in Northern Ireland.
Notable names in the field include English National champion Adam Hickey (Eamonn Martin, Essex) and Scottish National champion Kris Jones (Scotland East).
With no Ben Dijkstra in action in Loughborough, there is an opportunity for someone to seize the overall U20 men’s crown. Zakariya Mahamed (Peter Haynes, Southampton) and South Wales’ Jake Heyward (James Thie) are the athletes directly behind in the standings.
After a promising cross country season that saw her win on two occasions during the series, and earn an 11th place at the Europeans, Khahisa Mhlanga (Mick Judd, Essex) will be the favourite to secure the U20 women’s title. But Julia Paternain (Cambridgeshire) and Phoebe Barker (Richard Owen, Kent) are closest in the standings with Cari Hughes (Andrew Walling, North Wales) another to watch out for during this race.
The U17 leaders are both jointly held across the men’s and women’s disciplines; Joshua Dickinson (Ian Wilcock, Yorkshire) and Thomas Keen (Cambridgeshire) in the former and Grace Brock (John Knowles, Cornwall) and Grace Copeland (Dorset) in the latter.
North Wales’ Mike Spill (Stephen Livett) leads the way in the U15 rankings whilst Sian-Louise Heslop (Alison Hartopp, Cheshire) and Lily-Jane Evans-Haggerty (Scotland West) will continue their fine seasons around the country estate.
William Rabjohns (Mark Pauley, Dorset) and Valencia Wright (Victoria Park City of Glasgow) are currently ahead in the U13s Cross Challenge race.
Prestwold Hall has been the ancestral home of the Packe-Drury–Lowe family for over 360 years, while the Estate of over1,000 hectares of farmland and parkland, boasts extensive facilities for outdoor leisure events, so is the perfect location for a superb day of cross country action.
Action gets underway at 11am with the U20 men’s race. Full event information and current Cross Challenge standings can be found here: http://www.uka.org.uk/competitions/the-british-athletics-cross-challenge/
A report and results from the event will be posted on the British Athletics website shortly after the event.