Liverpool Cross Challenge: who, what and when guideWritten by I Dig Sports
Athletes heading for Sefton Park aiming to realise Euro Cross ambitions
One of the key fixtures in the British cross country calendar will unfold on Saturday (Nov 25), with this years staging of the Liverpool Cross Challenge.
The event, which takes place at Sefton Park, doubles as the trials for next months European Cross Country Championships and some of the countrys finest off-road exponents will have their sights set on earning a spot on the plane to Brussels.
Arguably the most hotly anticipated race of the day will be the senior womens contest. Last years Liverpool winner, Jessica Warner-Judd, tends to do well at Sefton Park and the World Championships 10,000m eighth placer will be looking to make sure of another victory.
She will face a tough test, though, against a field which includes 2022 runner-up and last years European Cross U23 individual silver medallist and European U23 5000m champion Megan Keith, who looked in impressive form when taking victory at the recent Cardiff Cross Challenge, a race in which Warner-Judd was fifth.
Other notable names in the field include the world 1500m finalist Melissa Courtney-Bryant, not to mention the in-form British international Amelia Quirk, as well as the experienced Abbie Donnelly, Jess Gibbon and 2022 World University cross country champion Izzy Fry.
Zak Mahamed looks to be in pole position for the senior mens title. An individual U23 silver medallist at last years Euro Cross, the Southampton athlete will be a senior competitor this time around and heads to Liverpool having been the first Briton over the line in fourth place in Cardiff.
There are plenty of intriguing subplots in the field, though, as Marc Scott continues his return to racing from injury while marathon man Callum Hawkins has also had more than his fair share of fitness setbacks and toes the start line nine years after his last victory at Sefton Park.
Callum Elson, a silver medallist over the mile at the World Road Running Championships last month, is also competing as are the Wheeler twins, Charlie and George, who were a surprise package in Cardiff. The U23 challenge looks set to be led by last years European U20 champion Will Barnicoat.
The 17-year-old Innes FitzGerald was fourth at last years European Cross but is clearly looking for a podium position this time around. She will be the one to beat in the junior womens race in Liverpool and was a dominant winner in Cardiff. Holly Weedall has been in excellent form this winter, though, while Cardiff runner-up Lizzie Wellsted will be in action once again with international honours in mind, as will Rebecca Flaherty.
The mens U20 race should be a hotly contested affair. Cardiff winner Sam Hodgson will be looking to carry on his winning momentum but will be up against the on-form Rowan Miell-Ingram and Ed Bird, who impressed at the World Cross Country Championships earlier this year. Sam Mills and Luke Birdseye just missed out on podium spots at last years Euro Cross and are back in the hunt, too.
The days action gets underway at 10:30 with the short course relay trials, which will help to decide the British line-up for the Mixed Relay in Brussels, before a packed timetable of age group contests.
10:30 European mens short course relay trial 1.5km
10:35 European womens short course relay trial 1.5km
10:45 U11 boys 2km
10:55 U11 girls 2km
11:05 U13 girls 3km
11:20 U13 boys 3km
11:35 U15 boys 3km
11:50 U15 girls 3km
12:05 U17 Women and World Athletics Junior Women European trial 4.4km
12:25 U17 Men 5.5km
12:45 World Athletics Junior Men European trial 6.7km
13:05 Senior Women (inc U23 Womens European Trial) 8.1km
14:05 Senior Men (inc U23 Mens European Trial) 9.8km