The number of entries received for this year’s Saucony English National Cross Country Championships are nothing short of superb. A total of 8797 athletes have been entered by their Clubs, the best number since 1995 when the event was held at Newark and all entry restrictions were removed that year.
The number entered, a thousand up on last year’s event held very successfully at Wollaton Park, Nottingham proves that Parliament Hill Fields is the most popular venue in England and will be staging a National Cross Country Championships for the fourteenth time since a Women’s Championship was held there in 1950.
Fittingly the Senior Women’s race has a new record entry of 1525 easily beating the 1995 mark and 225 up on anything this Century. The good news doesn’t stop with the Women as the Men’s entry of 3356 is the best since the 2000 event at Stowe. There has been 12 Senior Men’s Championships held at the London venue since the first one in 1957 while the Women’s Championship has been stage there 6 times. The first joint Men’s and Women’s event being held firstly at Luton in 1995 and then at Parliament Hill in 2003.
All the younger age groups have large numbers of athletes in, there are 630 under 13 Girls entered while 617 under 13 Boys although not records they are up there with the best. Exactly the same number of 582 is entered in the Boys and Girls under 15 races, 66 and 57 up on last year respectively.
The under 17s have 495 entered in the Men’s event and 384 in the Women’s consistent with recent years. The Junior age groups have always seen a fall a way in numbers and it was only a few years ago that it was deemed that the Junior Women’s race could be a separate race rather than be combined with the under 17s. This year 240 Women have entered while 389 Men will have their names in the programme.
Over the years great names such as Basil Heatley, Mel Batty, Dave Bedford, Julian Goater, Mo Farah and Andy Vernon have won Senior or Junior Championships at Parliament Hill. While Women’s wise Hayley Yelling, Hattie Dean, Gemma Steel, Louise Damen, Steph Twell and Emelia Gorecka have conquered the Heath again as Senior or Junior winners.