The Saucony English National Cross Country Championships Preview

The Saucony English National Cross Country Championships takes place at Wollaton Park, Nottingham for the first time on Saturday 22nd February on a new course. Better known for staging the Inter Counties for a number of years, the new course will test the runners. The National has previously been held in the Area at Newark Showground where it was staged 5 times in the 80’s and 90’s.

The course at Wollaton goes to the right of the Hall if facing, for those familiar with the Park. The terrain is undulating and has several hills in each lap with the surface either rough grass or parkland or has been planned with lots of Co-operation from Nottingham City Council. It has been nurtured and well tested by the Midlands and Nott’s AC Chairman, Mick Robinson and has so far absorbed all the rain that has fallen.

Entry numbers total over 7700 for the 10 races an increase of 2000 on last year’s event at Sunderland. The Senior Women’s entry is particularly good with 1276 entered one of the best entries since the turn of the century but all fields are good.

Defending Champions Keith Gerrard, Louise Damen and Emelia Gorecka are all entered from the Senior and Junior ranks. Although Louise Damen has just completed a Marathon in Osaka on the 26 January so might not be up for the National this year. Keith Gerrard last ran in the European Championships in December but definitely had the National in his plans and close rival Steve Vernon hopes to add to his medal tally from the National to become the most medalled Senior Man. Emelia Gorecka goes for a hatrick of Junior Women’s titles and her 8th title on the trot since winning the under 13 title in 2007 a magnificent achievement. Ian Bailey meanwhile the Junior Men’s Champion in 2013 goes into the senior ranks.

Annabel Mason is another defending Champion in the under 17 Women’s event and will be up against rising star Bobby Clay, whose older Sister Alex goes in the Junior Women’s event. Winner and third place runner in the under 15 Girls are entered again and Lucy Jones and Sabrina Sinha have both been showing good form again this Winter.

In the Junior Men’s race Michael Callegari and Weynay Ghebresilasi the silver and bronze medallist in that event last year are entered again so an interesting tussle for the title could develop.