World Class Talent Assembled for Major Cross Country Event in NI:
Entries are still open for the Antrim International Cross Country at Greenmount on Saturday 6th January 2018.
This is the 41st Edition of the competition which has been held at various venues across Northern Ireland since it began at Mallusk in 1977. The event is in its 9th year at Greenmount.
The meeting is one of the highlights of the World Cross Country calendar, forming part of the IAAF’s World Cross Country series.
As with previous years, the event is welcoming a high class field in both the mens and women’s races with former Double European Cross country champion Fionnuala McCormack taking on the likes of GB’s Gemma Steel and Ethiopia’s Birtukan Adamu.
33 year old McCormack has been the top Irish runner over cross country for many years. Earlier this month the Kilcoole woman competed for a record 15th time in the recent European Championships in Slovakia where she was top Irish finisher in 12th place.
The Rio Olympics marathon runner will however have ample opportunity to make amends at Greenmount and possibly add to her two previous victories there. She will expect a close battle with Steel who finished just 7 secs ahead of McCormack in Slovakia in 9th place. 32 year old Steel was delighted that her placing ensured she was a member of the 3 person British squad that took the Senior team title.
This will be Gemma’s 4th visit to Antrim with her best placing being the runner up spot to McCormack in 2012.
However, both runners will need to keep a wary eye on the classy Adamu who finished 3rd a year ago just one second ahead of McCormack who had been badly hampered by a lost shoe.
Adamu broke the World Junior record in the steeplechase back in 2011 with new figures of 9 mins 20.37 secs. She is also a World silver medallist.
In the men’s race, there is just as much quality with track star Timothy Cheruiyot, silver Medalist in the 1500m at the 2017 World Championships in London, lining up against world 3000m Steeplechase silver medallist Soufiane El Bakalli of Morocco and European U23 1500m Champion Pieter-Jan Jannes.
GB will be strongly represented by top endurance athlete and Olympian Andy Vernon taking part alongside Dewi Griffiths who recently ran a remarkable marathon debut in Frankfurt, clocking 2:09.49 over the 26.2 miles.
Previous participants in what will be the 41st year of this event include Steve Ovett, Steve Cram, Brendan Foster, Paula Radcliffe and multi World Cross champion Paul Tergat.
As well as being part of the World Cross Country circuit, the meet is part of the UK Athletics Cross Challenge series and this year will also incorporate the Celtic Cross Country International with teams from Scotland, Wales, Ireland and NI/Ulster all competing.
There will also be a full programme of supporting races from primary schools age upwards for both boys and girls.
Mayor of Antrim and Newtownabbey, Councillor Paul Hamill commented, “I am delighted that the Antrim International Cross Country is returning to our Borough for another year. This is a fantastic event and showcases the high standard of competitors within the Cross Country sport.”
Athletics NI General Secretary, John Allen, said: ‘’We at Athletics NI are proud and excited to be hosting the IAAF Antrim International again in 2018. The event has a long and prestigious history, and we fully expect to see a world class field again this year”.
Competitors can enter online HERE.