7th March 2019


The 2018-19 Cross Challenge titles and places on the British team for the IAAF World Cross Country Championships will be decided on Saturday (March 9) at Loughborough’s Prestwold Hall.

Britain’s best cross country runners will flock to Loughborough hoping to book their place in the team that travels to Aarhus, Denmark, at the end of the month, while all series champions will be crowned.

This weekend’s race will also incorporate the Inter Counties Championships and will see the senior women race over the same distance as the men as they take on the 10km loop.

The senior men’s field promises some strong competition as Marc Scott (coach: Jerry Schumacher; County: wildcard) flies over especially from his base in America to race in the trials. The Yorkshireman was the first Briton home at last year’s European Cross Country Championships, finishing in ninth place.

Fellow Euro Cross senior men’s silver medallist Ross Millington (Steve Vernon; Greater Manchester) and Under-23 team silver medallist and defending series champion Mahamed Mahamed (Peter Haynes; Hampshire) will take to the course in Loughborough, the latter winning on this course last year.

The senior women’s field is stacked with quality with Kate Avery (North East) in prime position to claim her second senior women’s title an earn qualification for the British team that heads to Denmark.

Verity Ockenden (Tony Houchin; Dorset), will hope to continue her fine start to 2019 that has seen her home fifth in the Great Stirling XCountry and eighth in the Cross Internacional de Italica, behind Jess Piasecki (Robert Hawkins; Greater Manchester), who will also be in contention.

Emily Hosker-Thornhill (Mick Woods; Kent) is enjoying a terrific winter on the grass, having claimed maximum points in Dundonald and a second-place in Cardiff, along with adding the English national title last month.

Jess Judd (Mick Judd; Essex), who formed part of the mixed 4×1.5km relay in Tilburg, will also be in the hunt and hoping to stake her claim for a place on the team.

The junior races will see the top three athletes gain automatic qualification for the World Cross Country Championships and the charge is likely to be led by Rory Leonard (North East), who won in Loughborough last year and claimed the English National Championships a fortnight ago in Leeds.

Zakariya Mahamed (Peter Haynes; Hampshire) and Matt Willis (self; North Wales), who makes his first outing of 2019, are both expected to be in contention, while Jack Meijer (Barry Hearn; Buckinghamshire), who ran the third leg for the junior mixed relay team in Stirling, will also be in the hunt.

Last season’s under-17 girls champion, Grace Brock (Cornwall) is the standout name for the junior women’s field and could wrap up the Cross Challenge title in Loughborough with a strong performance.

Brock, who finished 11th on her British debut in Tilburg, will not have it all her own way as competition for spots on the podium will arrive in the form of Becky Briggs (Derek Ricketts; Humberside), Naomi Lang (Scotland East) and Eloise Walker (John Lees; Scotland East).

Mohamed Ali (Steve Mann; Middlesex) will face off against Nicolas Harhalakis (Mark Vile; Cambridgeshire) for the men’s under-17 title as Ali looks to claim consecutive age-group titles.

Hamish Armitt (Dudley Walker; Scotland West) has taken a victory and a second-place in his two races this season and could well follow-up his 2016-17 series win with another Loughborough triumph.

In the women’s equivalent, series leader Charlotte Alexander’s (Wayne Vinton; Herne Hill) step up to the Under-20 race leaves Maya Todd-McIntyre (Graham Moffatt; Nottinghamshire) in pole position for the title.

Shannon Flockhart (Mark Vile; Cambridgeshire) and Olivia Mason (Graeme Mason; Cumbria) will also be in the hunt for maximum points, just six points separate the top four competing this weekend.

Anna Hedley (Scotland East) and Samia Jones (Steven Livett; North Wales), lock horns in the Under-15 Girls race, while Kyle Rabjohn (Yorkshire), Lewis Sullivan (Suffolk) and Fraser Sproul (Cumbria) will all be hot favourites for the boys’ race.

Isaac Morris (Mark Vile; Cambridgeshire) and defending champion William Rabjohns (Dorset) will battle it out for the Boys Under-13 title, while just three points split the top six in the girls equivalent.

Scarlett Livingstone (Devon) and Josie Robertson (Berkshire) are tied at the top on 55 points after trading top two finishes in Cardiff and Milton Keynes, while Isabella Wrightam (Leicestershire), Isla Thoms (Scotland East) and Isabelle Price (Shropshire) are all joint-third, locked on 53 points.

The action begins at 11am with the men’s Under-20 race and the programme closes with the Senior men’s race at 2:45pm. Full start lists can be viewed under the Loughborough tab here.