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Who, where and how to watch? European Cross selection races in focus this weekend

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  • Who, where and how to watch? European Cross selection races in focus this weekend

From the famous Warandecross in Tilburg to national championship and trial events taking place all across Europe, this weekend should give us a clearer indication of who is in form and who could challenge for medals ahead of the 28th SPAR European Cross Country Championships in Piemonte-La Mandria Park near Turin on 11 December.

With the continental championships looming into view, this is where the best of the action is happening on an action-packed and exciting weekend of cross country running.

Leading Dutch runners face strong Swedish opposition in Tilburg

The Warandecross in Tilburg on Sunday (27) is the final World Athletics Cross Country Tour Silver meeting to take place before the European Cross Country Championships and also serves as the Dutch Championships and selection race for La Mandria Park.

The Warandecross will be streamed live here from 10.45am local time.

Beaten in a sprint finish by Switzerland’s Jonas Raess last year, Mike Foppen is the favourite to win not only the Dutch title but to take the overall victory in the 10km. His main domestic rival will be veteran Dutch marathon runner and former winner Khalid Choukoud with international opposition coming from Sweden’s 2018 winner Napoleon Solomon.

Mike Foppen

Jip Vastenburg and Maureen Koster, both of whom were part of the gold medal-winning Dutch team when the 2018 European Cross Country Championships were staged in Tilburg albeit at a different venue, are among the standout entrants for the senior women’s 8km. However, the pre-race favourite is Sweden’s Sarah Lahti who won a World Athletics Cross Country Tour event in Mol last month.

And there will also be keen interest in the men’s U20 race which could serve as a gauge of form for the European Cross Country Championships. European U18 1500m and 3000m champion Niels Laros will test his strength over 6km against Norway’s Abdullahi Dahir Rabi and Denmark’s Joel Ibler Lillesø, the silver and bronze medallists in the U20 race at last year’s European Cross Country Championships. 

Some of the greats of global distance running have triumphed in a cross country fixture which dates back to 1956 including Tegla Loroupe (1992), Gete Wami (1995-97) and Sifan Hassan (2013-15) on the women’s side and Kenenisa Bekele (2000) on the men’s side. 

Familiar names to challenge for places on the British team in Liverpool

The British Trials for the European Cross Country Championships will be held in their traditional setting on Sefton Park in Liverpool at the British Athletics Cross Challenge meeting on Saturday (26).

The event will be streamed live through the British Athletics YouTube channel from 10.30am local time. 

World indoor 3000m bronze medallist Marc Scott is the most credentialed athlete entered for the senior men’s 9.8km while Jessica Warner-Judd - who led the Brits to the team title at the 2021 European Cross Country Championships in Dublin - takes on Jennifer Nesbitt and Jess Gibbon, the second and third scorers in the Irish capital last year, in the senior women’s 8.1km.

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Other significant names on the entry-list include three-time U20 champion Steph Twell and 2014 European cross country champion Gemma Steel - a winner of nine individual and team medals - who is returning to good form at the age of 37.

At the other end of the age spectrum, 20-year-old 800m specialist Max Burgin tests his strength after an injury-curtailed track season in the 1.5km short course event which serves as the selection race for the mixed relay at the European Cross Country Championships.

Reh headlines a strong women's field at the German Championships

European cross country bronze medallist Alina Reh is the star name in action at the German Cross Country Championships on Saturday (26) although she won’t be unopposed in the senior women’s 6.35km.

Despite the absence of Konstanze Klosterhalfen who isn’t targeting the cross country season, the women’s race is still brimming with talent from across the spectrum. Other standout names include European marathon fourth-placer Miriam Dattke who lines up alongside European 1500m fifth-placer Hanna Klein and 3000m steeplechaser Elena Burkard. 

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And the Germans could have a strong team in the senior men’s race in La Mandria Park as well with Sam Parsons, Samuel Fitwi and Mohamed Mohamud among those due to compete. The German Cross Country Championships will be streamed live here from 10.00am local time.

The Belgians also have medal-winning potential in the senior men's race at the European Cross Country Championships. At the CrossCup in Roeselare on Sunday (27) which serves as one of the main selection races, multiple European medallist Isaac Kimeli will test his shape having spent a recent stint at high altitude in Kenya. 

Kimeli takes on a field which also includes Robin Hendrix, Pieter-Jan Hannes and Michael Somers, the first Belgian home in fifth at the 2021 European Cross Country Championships.

Meanwhile, 39-year-old Mieke Gorissen, who only took up running as a serious pursuit in her late 30s, begins as the favourite for the women's title.

Live results for Roeselare can be found here.

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