Donington Park is the setting for this year’s Saucony English National Cross Country Championships and the event returns to Leicestershire for the first time since 1986 when the Women’s Championship was last held in the County while the Men’s event was held in Leicester in 1980. However this is the first time that the now Joint Championships will be held at Donington.
Donington Park is in fact a motorsport circuit located near Castle Donington in Leicestershire, England. Originally part of the Donington Hall estate, it was created as a racing circuit during the pre-war period and is used these days as well for a multitude of events including huge music festivals. Having successfully staged the English Schools Cross Country in the park 2 years ago, it is the turn of the clubs to have ago. Northern Athletics have spent hundreds of hours organising the event and though the start and finish are in Donington Park, in order to add in some sharp hills to make the course a little more interesting and testing, the course goes onto adjacent farmland and crosses into Derbyshire.
The central location and ease of access have meant entries from over 7850 athletes (representing 538 affiliated athletics clubs) have been received. Although not reaching the fantastic record numbers when the event was held last year at Parliament Hill, this is a healthy entry and beats the number the last time the event was staged by the North with 5637 entries for Sunderland in 2013. The numbers are also better than when the event was last at Alton Towers in 2011 with 7573 entries and Wollaton Park in 2013 where 7705 entered.
On the 129th staging of the Senior Men’s we have 2834 entries, and 1240 for the 84th Senior Women’s race. The good news is that most of the younger groups are up and very close to record numbers. This is the fourteenth year that all 10 age groups have had races and the following numbers are entered:
Junior Men 337, Junior Women 237, Under 17 Men 420, Under 17 Women 401( 5 short of the record), Under 15 Boys 569, Under 15 Girls 550, Under 13 Boys 634 (2 short of a new record) and Under 13 Girls 632.
Predicting who will run is always difficult, however both senior defending champions, Charlie Hulson and Lily Partridge are entered – though both have had long spells of injury this winter. Other past champions entered include Liz Janes (2006) plus 2 time winner Louise Damen (2011 & 13). The first two to finish in each of the Senior Men’s, Senior Women’s, Junior Men’s and Junior Women’s races will be given the opportunity to run for England in the Home Countries International to be held in 2016 in Scotland. The younger age groups usually support these Championships very well with the lead runners this winter all entered.
For further information on the event, timetable, travel and entry lists see the Nationals section on this website. Spectators are welcome, there is no entry charge but each car will pay a £5 car parking fee for the event.