Saturday’s event kicks off the British Athletics Cross Challenge and is the first meeting in World Athletics’ Cross Country Tour Gold series
After last winter’s domestic cross-country season was decimated by the pandemic, endurance runners will look forward to lacing up their spikes again as the British Athletics Cross Challenge series kicks off in Cardiff on Saturday (October 16).
The event is also part of the new World Athletics Cross Country Tour Gold calendar of events but the senior races look likely to be dominated by athletes based in South Wales near the venue of Llandaff Fields.
Charlotte Arter won the women’s race at this meeting last time it was held two years ago. This time she faces Jenny Nesbitt plus Kate Avery, the 2014 European Cross silver medallist who is battling to return to full fitness following injury issues (see the October issue of AW magazine for more).
Arter is in good form following a 15:26 for 5km in Vienna earlier this month, while former Inter-Counties champion Nesbitt has been preparing in Font Romeu.
Izzy Fry, Jess Gibbon, Mhairi Maclennan, Philippa Bowden and Hannah Irwin add to the quality of the field.
The men’s entries, meanwhile, are headed by Jake Smith. Fresh from his London Marathon pacemaking duties, the Cardiff runner will face opposition from Omar Ahmed and Kadar Omar of Ethiopia.
Ahmed and Omar run for Birchfield Harriers with Ahmed making headlines recently when he won the Great Bristol Run half-marathon but was disqualified because he had entered the 10km but took a wrong turn on the course and ended up racing 13.1 miles instead.
Zak Seddon, the 8:21 steeplechaser who represented Britain in that event at the Tokyo Olympics, is also down to race.
Watch out too for Swansea strongman Dewi Griffiths as the multiple Welsh cross-country champion builds back to fitness from injury.
Added to this, look out for Tom Keen, Hugo Milner, Jordan Rowe, Jack Millar, Zak Mahamed and more Cardiff local hopes such as James Hunt and Dan Nash.
Megan Keith leads the entries for the under-20 women’s race along with Alice Garner. Both runners placed fourth at the European Under-20 Championships in Tallinn this summer, with Keith racing 3000m and Garner 5000m.
Bea Wood, a multiple national title winner in the younger age-groups, moves up into the under-20 age group too. The last time she raced on the country she took the English Schools and Inter-Counties gold medals back in March 2019.
With many athletes it is hard to tell what shape they will be in during this early winter period. But Jess Bailey showed her form this month when she won the under-17 women’s title at the Virgin Money Giving Mini London Marathon and here in Cardiff she leads the under-17 entries.
The under-20 men’s race, meanwhile, features local hope Osian Perrin, plus Flynn Jennings and Sam Charlton – the latter of whom captured a grand slam of domestic titles two years ago when he won English Schools, English National and Inter-Counties gold medals.
READ MORE: Are you up for the Cross Challenge?
The event is the first of 14 World Athletics Cross Country Tour meetings, with the next events coming up in Amorebieta on October 24, Soria on October 31, Atapuerca on November 14 and Seville on November 21.
On a more grassroots level the Cardiff event will also incorporate the first fixture in the local John H Collins Gwent Cross Country League.
11:30am U11 girls
11:40am U11 boys
11.50am U13 girls
12.05pm U13 boys
12:20pm U17 men
12.45pm U17/20 women
1:10pm U15 girls
1.25pm U15 boys
1:40pm Senior women & masters
2:25pm U20 men
2.50pm Senior men & masters
For full entries, click here
Look out for video highlights from the event at Vinco on Sunday October 17