The Portuguese capital of Lisbon will be staging this year’s edition of the SPAR European Cross Country Championships on 8 December.
The annual championships was added to the calendar in 1994 and Portugal will become just the third country to have held the event on three separate occasions after Great Britain (Alnwick 1994 and 1995, Edinburgh 2003) and Italy (Ferrara 1998, San Giorgio su Legnano 2006 and Chia 2016).
Portugal held the event for the first time in Oeiras in 1997 before Albufeira was handed the baton in 2010 and on both occasions the host country came away with gold medals.
Despite the absence of eventual four-time champion Paulo Guerra, Portugal still won gold in the senior men’s race in 1997 before Jessica Augusto won the individual senior women’s title in 2010 and led Portugal to the team title.
Lisbon also staged the IAAF World Cross Country Championships in 1985 which was highlighted by a gold medal from home favourite Carlos Lopes who famously won the Olympic marathon title in 1984.
With 19 gold medals, Portugal is the fifth most successful nation at the SPAR European Cross Country Championships in terms of titles won behind Great Britain (61), France (29), Spain (21) and Turkey (20).
However it was Norway which topped the medal table at the SPAR European Cross Country Championships in Tilburg last December thanks to a by no means insignificant contribution from the Ingebrigtsen brothers.
Jakob became the first junior to win three successive U20 titles and led Norway to the U20 team title before Filip, who came away from the European Championships empty-handed due to injury, ended his campaign on a high with a masterful display on a rutted course in the senior men’s race.
Turkey’s Yasemin Can also extended her unbeaten streak at the European Cross Country Championships with her third successive title in the senior women’s race and Nadia Battocletti became the first Italian woman to win an individual title in championship history with gold in the women’s U20 race.
Both Ingebrigtsen and Battocletti are also eligible to defend their U20 titles in Lisbon. The women's U20 race could foster some domestic success as Mariana Machado, who finished fourth in the 1500m at the IAAF World U20 Championships, will still be eligible to contest this age-group.