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20 Nov Liverpool Cross Challenge & Euro Trials // Eightlane Preview & Predictions – U23s

Jonny Hay and Jess Coulson came out on top in the U23 category in 2012, with Coulson going on to win European gold in Budapest a month later.

Coulson repeated Emma Pallant’s success in the same event twelve months before to lead the U23 team, which included Lauren Howarth, Hannah Walker, Lily Partridge, Beth Potter and Hannah Alderson, to team silver whilst the men’s side – without trials winner Hay through tonsillitis – secured bronze thanks to the efforts of James Wilkinson, Andrew Heyes, Simon Horsfield, Dewi Griffiths, Scott McDonald and Nick Goolab.

The first four U23s across the line will gain automatic selection, with the fifth and sixth places in the team to be decided based on remaining eligible athlete’s form, fitness and competition history up to and including 23 November (making events at the NCAAs in Terre Haute, Indiana worth keeping an eye on).

Charlotte Purdue is set to make her return to cross country action for the first time since March 2011 this weekend whilst Jonny Hay will be looking to take victory for the second successive year.

U23 Women

Charlotte Purdue

• Charlotte has endured a tough 14 months of injury but made a great comeback at the BUPA Great South Run last month, beating the in-form Susan Partridge.
• Her last cross country race was the World Cross in 2011 where she finished 14th and top European.
• Charlotte’s last outing at the European XC was in Albufeira1005721_10152936569515553_1106888325_n in 2010 where she finished 1st Under 20. She is yet to compete as an Under 23 at the European Cross Country Championships.

Lily Partridge

• Lily is showing great form leading into the trials – she ran the quickest leg on the first stage of the National XC Relays and made a great half marathon debut at the BUPA Great Birmingham Run, running 74.55.
• Lily has made the GB European Cross Country team since 2009 and last year placed 7th overall at Liverpool (4th U23) – she went on to finish 15th at the Europeans.

Beth Potter

• Beth lines up as a leading contender for a top-3 finish at the trials.
• Shown great form at the beginning of the season – she ran the quickest leg at the Southern Road Relays and finished inside the top-10 quickest times at both the National Road Relays & National XC Relays.
• Last weekend Beth finished 4th at the Leeds Abbey Dash 10k in 33.44.
• Beth was 3rd U23 last year and went on to finish 17th in Budapest.

Laura Muir

• If Laura chooses to contest the trials then she will be a threat. She showed her track ability this summer over distances from 800m to 5k and has demonstrated potential over the cross country in the past.
• Her most recent performance was at the National Scottish 4k XC Championships two weeks ago, where she finished 1st and beat Morag MacLarty by 12 seconds.
• Last year Muir missed out on a team position but she finished 6th Under 20 in 2011 and went on to represent GB at Velenje.

Louise Small

• Louise hasn’t made a European Cross Country team before and missed last year through injury (her highest finish was in 2008 when she finished 5th but both Charlotte Purdue & Steph Twell didn’t contest the race and went on to be selected). This team position is long over due for Louise.
• Louise has shown good form leading into the trials. Her performances at the Southern and National Road Relays have placed her inside the top-10 quickest times.
• She also made her 10 mile debut at the BUPA Great South Run last month, posting a respectable time in tough conditions.
• Her most recent performance at the National XC Relays helped AFD to the win and she posted the quickest time out of all third leg runners.

Kate Avery & Hannah Walker

1399737_10201707081015044_1876269438_o• Both girls have shown their credentials over cross country but the NCAAs clash with the trials this year.
• Performances at the NCAAs will be crucial.
• Both have shown form over in the States – this weekend Kate finished 5th in North-East regional race and Hannah finished 4th in the South regional championship.

Jess Andrews

• Jess ran one of the quickest legs by an under 23 at the National Road Relays, finished 11th at the BUPA Great South Run and most recently led the Aldershot, Farnham & District B team to a silver medal at the National XC Relays.

U23 Men

Jonny Hay

• Jonny finished 10th and first U23 in Liverpool last year and has finished inside the top-3 in his age category for past four years.
• Hay has enjoyed a good start to the season with a 65:19 clocking at the BUPA Great North Run, top-10 fastest time at the National Road Relays and third place finish at the Bristol Cross Challenge.
617283_10151306014172718_1742184807_o• Jonny anchored the AFD team to gold at the recent National XC Relays with the fifth-fastest time of the day and should challenge for top-spot.

Dewi Griffiths

• Dewi has shown decent form at Liverpool, finishing ninth as an U20 in 2010 and 22nd (6th U23) last year, where he went on to finish 38th in Budapest.
• Swansea’s Griffiths won the first Cross Challenge of the season in Bristol and followed it up with a half-minute PB of 29:32 at the Leeds Abbey Dash last weekend.

Jon McDonnell

• Jon has only finished 32nd and 30th as an U23 in the last two Liverpool Cross Challenges but demonstrated his strength recently with 50:50 on his 10 mile debut at the Cabbage Patch 10.
• Finished the summer as third quickest U23 for 5k with 13:57.19.
• Clocked the sixth-fastest time of the day at the National XC Relays for Luton (15:40).

Will Gray

• Only finished 30th as an U20 last year in Liverpool but went on to finish 7th at BUCS and 8th at the Nationals in February.
• Came back first on the opening leg at the National Road Relays last month, finishing the day fifth-fastest (17:17).
• Will has started the cross country season well, with a 7th-placed finish at the Bristol Cross Challenge and top-25 in Soria so far.

Some more hats to throw in the ring:
70c1b25badebd09f85e081d615379deaTom Farrell – finished fourth in the senior race in Budapest last year after earning a discretionary place from the selectors. After finishing 7th in the Midwest regional race last week, his performance at the NCAAs will likely determine his fate again.
Callum Hawkins – finished third overall (and leading U23) at the Leeds Abbey Dash last weekend in 29:24 but his last cross country was in Edinburgh in January 2012.
Richard Goodman – former European Junior XC silver medallist returned after a year-long absence to win the first Met League fixture in Claybury last month.
Charlie Hulson – part of the junior men’s team that won Euro bronze last year, placing 18th, and key member of Sale Harriers side that won gold at National Road Relays and silver at National XC Relays.
Rowan Axe – fourth at both the Welsh XC and BUCS Championships earlier in the year.

Words: Tasha Doel & Chris Rainsford