Before the advent of mass participation road races and long before parkrun was even a twinkle in founder Paul Sinton-Hewitt’s eye cross country running had been taking place for hundreds of years. Sunday (11 December) sees Britain’s harrier tradition maintained as one of the strongest GB teams ever assembled will compete in the European Cross Country Championships in Chia, Italy.
British Athletics have announced that a full team of 36 athletes will travel to Italy and there is plenty of confidence that a haul of medals will be achieved. The men’s team is headlined by Euro Trials winner, Andrew Butchart (pictured), in hot form following his Rio 5000m sixth place and Scottish 5000m record.
Butchart will be joined by fellow Olympian, Callum Hawkins, who was so impressive on his Olympic marathon debut in Brazil (9th). Scotland’s finest are joined by 2013 European Cross bronze medal winner, Andy Vernon, plus Ben Connor, Dewi Griffiths and Ross Millington.
The senior women’s team is led by 2014 European cross country champion Gemma Steel who will hope that her fourth appearance in the Euro Cross after a fourth victory at the trials will result in something better than fourth in Chia. Steel will be supported by Rio Olympian Steph Twell plus Trials runner-up Charlotte Arter, Katrina Wootton, Emily Hosker-Thornhill and Pippa Woolven.
The European Championships includes races for under-23 and under-20 men and women and Spencer Duval, the Euro Cross Team Leader, said: “Last year’s championships in Hyères were a success with our team topping the medal table for the 13th consecutive year and we are hopeful that those selected for Chia can continue the strong record we have at the European championships”.
Highlights from the European Championships will be screened on BBC 2 at 3:50pm on Sunday (11 December).
Results and further information will be available at UK Athletics’ website.
Image courtesy British Athletics