Runners will race at Sefton Park for places on the British European Cross Country Championships team

Such is GB’s success in the European Cross Country Championships, with likely team medals on offer at the very least, many see the British Athletics Cross Challenge in Liverpool, which incorporates the Euro Cross trials, as one of the most important events of the winter.

The top four finishers in the senior and under-23 men’s and women’s events on Saturday will automatically book a spot in Britain’s team for Lisbon next month with a further two discretionary selections being made in each.

The top five in the under-20 races qualify with one further place available.

Women’s events

Last year’s women’s race saw Charlotte Arter gain a narrow win from Verity Ockenden, Jess Piasecki, Melissa Courtney and Kate Avery and a similar high quality line-up is expected again this year at Sefton Park.

Arter won the Cross Challenge in Cardiff and was seventh in Atapuerca recently although it is her 31:35 10km in Leeds that shows she is in the form of her life.

Avery, a two-time European runner-up, won at Milton Keynes, just four seconds up on Amy Griffiths, Bronwen Owen and National champion Emily Hosker-Thornhill, who impressed in the National cross-country relays.

World Championships 5000m representative and former National winner Jess Judd is entered and clearly in good form judging by her 10km PB in Leeds.

Some athletes will be focusing on under-23 selection and these include Amelia Quirk, who though she dropped out at Milton Keynes, will be keen to make the team, having led home the under-20 squad in the Europeans last year.

Last year’s junior women’s race was won by Cari Hughes, who like all bar Grace Brock have moved up into the under-23s.

In Cardiff, Saskia Millard won from fellow Herne Hill Harrier Charlotte Alexander and Beatrice Wood and Eloise Walker was victorious at Milton Keynes from fellow World Cross team-mate Olivia Mason and they should be among the contenders, although Alexander is not among the entries.

Men’s events

The favourite for the men’s race, should he run, is 2016 winner Andy Butchart but he was not among the listed entries on Monday.

Last year’s men’s race saw Ross Millington lead home Nick Goolab, Marc Scott, Charlie Hulson and Dewi Griffiths – and Millington will again be one of the favourites.

Former National champion and 2017 winner Ben Connor is coming off running the 5000m in Doha and is bound to be a major factor.

In earlier Cross Challenge action in Cardiff, Scott won from Mahamed Mahamed with Michael Ward third. Mahamed went one better in Milton Keynes ahead of Sam Stabler and Tom Evans, Jack Gray and Alex Teuten, who will all be in contention.

Last year Emile Cairess led home the under-23 age group narrowly ahead of Mahamed and Paulos Surafel and all three are young enough to make the team for Lisbon.

However, the athlete that stands out as favourite among entries in this age group is 2018 British 10,000m champion Alex Yee.

Because of triathlon commitments, the Kent AC athlete has not run on the country for a year but at his best, he could win the overall title and not just take the under-23s.

In the under-20s last year, Jake Heyward won from Isaac Akers and Mortimer, who are all now too old.

Matthew Willis was fourth and he was followed by Jack Meijer and Zak Mahamed and that trio are entered and should be to the fore again.

Race timetable

Race 1   10.45    U11 boys’ 2km
Race 2   10.55    U11 girls’ 2km
Race 3   11.05    U13 girls’ 3km
Race 4   11.20    U13 boys’ 2km
Race 5   11.35    U15 boys’ 3km
Race 6   11.50    U15 girls’ 3km
Race 7   12.05    U17 girls & IAAF junior women 4.4km
Race 8   12.25    U17 boys’ 5.5km
Race 9   12.45    IAAF junior men’s 6.7km
Race 10 13.05    Senior women’s 8.1km
Race 11 14.05    Senior men’s 9.8km

» See the November 21 edition of AW magazine for our full preview and next week’s magazine for coverage

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