A preview to the action at Prestwold Hall, where World Cross selection, Inter-Counties titles and Cross Challenge prizes are all up for grabs
Many of Britain’s leading cross-country runners descend on Prestwold Hall on Saturday as they target places on the GB team for the IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Aarhus as well as Inter-Counties titles and Cross Challenge prizes.
The rolling grassland course on the outskirts of Loughborough in the East Midlands is staging the event for the third consecutive year thanks to the enthusiasm of landowner and keen runner Edward Packe-Drury-Lowe.
After a slightly vague and noncommittal selection policy for Aarhus, athletes were unsure during the first part of the winter whether British Athletics would send full teams to the World Cross. But the governing body has since removed any doubt and confirmed they will send senior and junior squads.
Kate Avery leads the Cross Challenge series for senior women and she’s likely to be a frontrunner for World Cross selection.
Emily Hosker Thornhill, the newly-crowned English National winner, is also clearly an athlete in form.
Other contenders include Verity Ockenden, Jess Judd, Mhairi Maclennan, Claire Duck, Louise Small, Naomi Taschimowitz, Abbie Donnelly and Jess Piasecki.
Welsh champion Jenny Nesbitt is also entered, plus former Inter-Counties winner Gemma Steel.
Despite winning the English National under-20 race last week, Amelia Quirk races the senior race this weekend, too, though Charlotte Arter does not as she is focusing instead on The Vitality Big Half on the roads. Defending champion Phoebe Law is not entered either and Pippa Woolven is set to miss the event due to illness.
Mahamed Mahamed, the reigning Inter-Counties champion and recent English National winner, leads the entries for the men’s race.
He is also joint leader of the Cross Challenge standings with former National winner Charlie Hulson, who is not expected to race on Saturday.
Challengers include Adam Hickey, Patrick Dever, Jack Gray, John Millar and Alex Teuten.
Ross Millington, who won the Euro Cross trials in November, plus wild card entries Andrew Heyes and Marc Scott add to the quality, although there is no Andy Vernon this year – the cross-country stalwart focusing instead on the Virgin Money London Marathon next month.
Grace Brock leads the entries for the junior women’s race in a field that includes Amelia Samuels, Grace Copeland, Emily Thompson and Almi Nerurkar.
The battle for World Cross selection in the under-20 men’s race will be just as hot. Zak Mahamed leads the Cross Challenge rankings and faces opposition from Rory Leonard, Matt Willis, Ben West, Connor Bentley and Jack Meijer.
Leonard, the son of former international runner Tony Leonard, looks in particularly good form after his English National win last month.
This year is the first time both senior men and women will run the same distance – 10km – at the Inter-Counties.
11am Under-20 men 8km
11.30am Under-13 boys 3km
11.45am Senior women 10km
12.35pm Under-15 boys 4km
12.55pm Under-17 women 5km
1.15pm Under-20 women 6km
1.40pm Under-13 girls 3km
2pm Under-17 men 6km inter
2.20pm Under-15 girls 4km
2.45pm Senior men 10km
» See the March 7 edition of AW magazine for our full preview, while our website, social media channels and next week’s magazine will feature updates and reports on the action in Loughborough