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One month to go until the 2023 ECCC Cross Country

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With one month to go, preparations are well under way to make the 2023 European Champion Clubs Cup Cross Country, commonly abbreviated to the ECCC Cross Country, in the Spanish town of Oropesa del Mar on Sunday 5 February possibly the best ever.

And it is also shaping up to be one of the biggest editions to date with 85 clubs confirmed to take part across the programme which includes senior and U20 men's and women's races as well as the mixed relay which was added to the schedule for the first time in 2022 when the event took place after a three-year hiatus in Oeiras, Portugal.

However, hopes are high the Spanish club teams can also deliver as well on a testing course that is literally just a stone’s throw away from the Mediterranean. Host club Playas de Castellón will be represented in all five races and defending its continental titles in both the senior women's and mixed relay events.

Jumping the gun, Playas de Castellón have already named Uganda’s Winnie Nanyondo, a multiple world 1500m finalist and the anchor leg runner on last year’s victorious mixed relay team as well as local star Mireya Arnedillo, the 2021 European Athletics U20 Championships 1500m bronze medallist, as their likely female runners in the mixed relay.

They will be accompanied, according to club officials, by "two of Spain’s top men's middle distance runners."

By their own admission, the Playas de Castellón senior women’s team may not be quite as strong as last year's winning quartet which had its scoring trio all place in the top eight, including the Spanish-based Ethiopian Likina Amebew who took the individual title, but it is expected to feature "possibly two Spanish internationals."

In addition to Playas de Castellón, Spanish champions and runners-up Valencia Atletismo will also have teams replete with international runners in the senior women’s race, with Spain having won the ECCC Cross Country senior women’s team title on four previous occasions including last year.

In the men’s race, Playas de Castellón will be joined by surprise Spanish champions Cárnicas Serrano – making their debut in this competition – who are expected to feature the experienced international Roberto Aláiz, whose last race was the SPAR European Athletics Cross Country Championships where he was part Spain’s bronze medal-winning team.


In the men's U20 race, hosts Playas de Castellón will once again be among the favourites as they bid to regain the team title they won in 2017 and 2018. In 2022, they finished just outside the medals in fourth place in this category but saw their lead runner Ruben Leonardo finish on the podium in the individual race in third place.

Leonardo will still be 18 on the day of the race and is expected to be part of the Playas de Castellón U20 team again.

In additional to his cross country prowess, the criminology student at the University of Valladolid is very talented steeplechaser who also has to be a long range candidate for a medal at the European Athletics U20 Championships in Jerusalem this summer.

In the U20 women’s race, Playas de Castellón also finished fourth 12 months ago in Portugal but saw themselves beaten in the Spanish championships by Gijón Atletismo and the latter will join the host club on the start line in Oropesa del Mar.

After all the medals have been presented and the national anthems finished, the final event of the day will be the Total Runner 5K which is designed to be a open trail/cross country race over the same course as used earlier in the day for the five ECCC Cross Country races.

Full details of the event, including course maps and timetable, can be found here.

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