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McCain UK liverpool Cross Challenge preview

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Mike Skinner 2

27 November 2009

Aspiring international athletes will contest the well-known course at Liverpool’s Sefton Park at this weekend's McCain UK Cross Challenge, which will be held on Saturday 28 November, in a bid to seal their place at the European Cross Country Championships.

The second event of this winter’s McCain UK Cross Challenge traditionally throws up some cut-throat racing and UKA will be looking to select a strong team to build on past performances of which GB and NI have been the most successful European nation in recent years.

The first three athletes past the post in Liverpool will gain automatic selection for the European event, which will be held in Dublin on 13 December, with full team being announced on 1 December.

Challenging for the win from the junior men’s line-up will be Nick Goolab and Jonny Hay.  Simon Horsfield, Ross Murray and James Wilkinson will lay threat and make it an open competition of which any could take second or third.

In the absence of Charlotte Purdue, who will not contest the trials as a precaution to ensure full fitness for the European Cross, Kate Avery, Beth Potter, Jess Coulson and Lauren Howarth make up a strong junior women’s field.  If all perform to expectations each could be part of a strong European cross team but the win in Liverpool is very much up for grabs. 

In Liverpool, the U23 and senior athletes will contend the course together, leading candidates for the U23 men include Ricky Stevenson, David Forrester and Jonathan Taylor.  Selectors have also noted the performance of Lee Carey, who raced at the NCAA Championships in the US.

Stephanie Twell will not compete at the weekend, deciding instead to rest ahead of the European Cross after a slight injury, leaving the U23 women’s field open to contention. Stevie Stockton or Kat Sparke could take advantage of the three-time European Junior cross country winner’s absence.  Selectors have also noted Charlotte Browning form at the NCAA Championships

Following a recent altitude training camp in Kenya, Mo Farah will not race in the trials but has declared his interest in competing in Dublin to the selection panel.  Mike Skinner, Scott Overall and Lee Merrien could all take the title in Liverpool.  Chris Thompson and Andrew Lemoncello have raced in the US this week to prove form and wish to be considered for selection.

Freya Murray, Laura Kenney and Sonia Samuels head the strong domestic field of senior women athletes and will race for the senior title and the coveted selection places for Dublin.