Team Selection – Lotto Cross Cup – Diest – 11th Feb

The Lotto Cross Cup – Diest

Diest, Belgium (province of Flemish Brabant), Sunday 11th February 2024

The Lotto Cross Cup in Diest is an annual cross country running competition that takes place in Diest in the Belgian province of Flemish Brabant. It historically attracts a few top athletes from Europe and Africa.

Typically held in January or February, the Cross Cup competition was created as a men’s only event in 1941 and in its first decade a number of Belgian champions competed, including Gaston Reiff and Marcel Vandewattyne. It became increasingly international in nature and the 1950s saw Olympic medallists top the podium, such as Derek Ibbotson, Gordon Pirie and Franjo Mihalić. Despite the growth of foreign competition, Gaston Roelants(the 1964 Olympic steeplechase champion) was dominant at the competition in the 1960s and two more Belgian Olympians, Emiel Puttemans and Vincent Rousseau, extended the national-level success from the mid-1970s through to the 1990s. A women’s race was introduced in 1977 and attracted high level foreign competition from 1990 onwards

England frequent Belgium most seasons to compete in various venues whichever fits the England Cross Country schedule for that season. This season we visit Diest for the Cross Cup event in February having visited Diest the last 2 seasons. With a range of successes over many seasons including victories in all ages at the various Cross Cup venues we will once again travel to Belgium with expectation of success. More importantly enabling all the athletes to gain experience and confidence in an event such as the ‘Cross Cup’ which has been held since the 1940’s.
Diest is a twisting winding multi-lap typical Belgian course and will test our athletes once again.

Team managers:
Senior Men – Eamonn Martin
Senior Women – Sue Lamb
Junior Men – Keith Holt
Junior Women – Jo Newcombe


Athlete’s name, Club – Coach

Senior Men

Jack Millar, Bristol & West/ Thames hare and Hounds – David Bedwell

A solid runner over cross country Jack performed really well over the 10k course in Parliament Hill finishing 7th and then came 3rd in the Midland the following weekend but a very long way ahead of 4th place to secure his slot. 16th in the National last year although 5th in 2022 when the same season he was also 7th in the Inter-Counties. Jack will cherish the chance to run on the twisting winding Belgium course in Diest.

Sam Mills, Exeter

Only just out of the junior ranks since January 1st Sam has had a very successful junior running career on track and cross country. Over the country he has finished 4th & 5th respectively in the last 2 European Cross Country Championships in.2022 & 23. He is the 2022 Junior National Cross Country champion and represented GB in the World Cross Country Champs in Bathurst, Australia in 2023. Also he competed for GB at the European U20 Champs at 1500m in 2023 so despite his age has a wealth of experience in the Junior ranks.

Jack Gray, Cambridge & Coleridge – Mark Vile

Naturally a prolific racer Jack performed with a flourish towards the end of last winter finishing 2nd in the English National Cross Country, 3rd in the Inter Counties Cross Country having also ran well for England over Cross Country in Diest, Belgium where he came 7th.

He took this good form and greater confidence into the track season and ran PB’s for 5000m (13m41.62) and 10,000m (28m27.60) before returning to the roads this autumn and running well in both the Southern Road Relay (1st on leg 3) and the National Road Relay where he was 2nd on leg 1.

Recently he ran a PB for 10k road in Valencia 28m36 and probably carried some of that into the following week where he was 12th in Parliament Hill.

Alfie Manthorpe, Sheffield & Dearne – John Wood

Alfie gained a GB vest at the Brussels European Cross Country Champs in December a bit of a break through on the country where he finished in 44th position in the senior race. His qualification run at Liverpool where he was 9th followed on from a great win at the Wolverton 5 the week before in 23m30 secs so this has been a great winter so far for Alfie. This follows a summer where Alfie set PB’s for 1500m, 3000m and 5000m on the track.

Recently at parliament Hill he was 10th having not raced since the European cross country.

Senior Women

Megan Gadsby, City of Norwich/St Mary’s University – Mick Woods

Megan was recently 4th in the Southern cross country having finished 8th U23 at the Liverpool Trial in November. This followed her 2nd place finish in the National U20 cross country in 2023. Megan is gradually adjusting to the step up from the U20 ranks and gets her full England senior vest in the windy course of Diest.

Jessica Gibbon, Reading AC

Recently winner of the Southern cross country title a week after finishing 12th at the Parliament Hill UK cross challenge this is a return to form for Jess after a lean 2023 which followed a very good 2022 where she was 14th in the European Cross Country Championships, National Cross Country Champion and 2nd in the Inter-Counties – we welcome Jess back to something like the form we are used to from her.

Philippa Stone, Middlesborough/Durham University – Martin Peevor

Philippa returns to Diest 12 months on from finishing 4th there last February. She recently finished 4th in the Northern champs just behind Sophie Tarver (also selected here for Diest) and behind in form winner Lauren McNeil. She was 18th in the National last March (10th the previous year) and 22nd in the European Trial last November. Philippa will look to improve on her 4th place run last year in Diest and battle with Sophie Tarver who beat her by 1 place in the recent Northern champs.

Sophie Tarver, Wirral – Bill Foster

Sophie was recently 3rd in the Northern champs having finished 6th last season in both the national and Inter-counties cross country champs. She was 20th in the European Trial last November and has also previously run for England in Diest 2 years ago finishing 8th in the same season she also ran for England in Elgobar, Spain finishing 13th in a high quality field.

U20 Men

Quinn Miell-Ingram, Radley – Wendy Miell-Ingram

Quinn has made great strides this year and is building on his 15th place in the Inter Counties and 8th place in the English National cross country Championships. Despite his 20th finish in Liverpool this year he was in fact the 2nd athlete available for selection. Quinn has carried his good form into December with an excellent 10km road race in Telford in which he recorded an excellent 30 minutes 09 seconds. Quinn continues to impress this winter adding a silver medal finish in the Home Countries International to his recent fine 4th place on his England debut in Elgoibar, Spain.

William Rabjohns, Poole AC – Mark Pauley

William has proven himself on the both the country and the track this year. A third place in the South of England cross country championships back in January set the scene. This was capped the following month with an excellent third place in the English National cross country Championships. Arguably these achievements were eclipsed in the summer when William finished 5th in the Commonwealth Youth Games in Port of Spain in a personal best time of 3:46.46. William made his England debut in the Home Countries International where he finished an excellent 6th. This despite a heavy fall losing his ground on the leaders.

Jake Stevens, Invicta East Kent – Donald Carter

Jake has made significant improvements in his track times this season but it was his cross country performances in February and March this year that where the real highlights. A fourth place in the English National cross country Championships was followed by a fourth place the following in month in the CAU Inter Counties. Jake is working hard to break the sequence and is aiming the make the podium in future. Jake made his England debut in the Home Countries International. Starting cautiously, Jake moved through well to finish in an excellent 5th place and in doing so help to secure 1st place for the team.

Mark Ruby, Poole AC – Mark Pauley

Mark is another athlete out of the Mark Pauley stable following in the footsteps of Ed Bird and William Rabjohns. Mark ended last year’s cross country season with a 12th place in the Inter Counties followed a week later with a 17th place in the ESAA English Schools. Mark has made great strides since those late winter days, improving his track performances and gaining much needed strength. An 11th place in this seasons Cardiff Cross Challenge gave an early indication that he was moving in the right direction. Mark, running for the South of England, had a tremendous run in the Home Countries International to finish in an excellent 4th. Confidence and expectations are now high for the remainder of this cross country season.

U20 women

India Barwell, Lincoln Wellington – Rob Lewis

India will be making her England cross country debut after unfortunately being unable to compete in Elgoibar in Spain. India is having a great cross country season where she finished 8th overall position (6th U20) at Liverpool and recently placed 4th in the London Cross Challenge. India also ran the third fastest leg in the U20’s race at the National cross country relay championships at Mansfield.

Amelie Lane, Wharfedale Harriers – Sally Malir

Amelie finished 7th at the London Cross Challenge and most recently became the Northern U20 women cross country champion. The previous year Amelie won the U17 race at the Northern’s and finished 6th at the national cross country championships. At Liverpool Amelie finished 13th. This will also be an England debut for Amelie over cross country.

Beth Rogers, Ilkley – Sally Malir

Beth is another U20 who is making her England cross country debut following her 13th overall position (9th U20) at Liverpool. A week later she was runner up at the English Schools’ cross country cup final. Beth also ran for England as an U17 in the British & Irish mountain running championships in September 2022. Beth was due to compete for England in Elgoibar, Spain but was unable to due industrial action by the Spanish airlines.

Lizzie Wellsted, Colchester Harries

Lizzie has made significant progress as an U20 athlete this year and has been in fine form on the cross country this season. Lizzie represented GB at the European cross country championships in Brussels finishing a credible 13th, and 3rd scorer for the U20 women gold medal winning team. Lizzie gained her GB selection finishing 5th overall (4th U20) at the trials in Liverpool. Other notable performances this season include 2nd and 6th in the Cardiff and London Cross Challenges respectively. This will be Lizzie’s debut vest for England over cross country.