22 Oct Record entries from clubs for the Scottish National XC Relay Championships
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Cross country in Scotland is proving ever more popular in the wake of London 2012 and ahead of the Commonwealth Games.
The sport’s governing body north of the border have received a record entry from clubs for the Scottish National XC Relay Championships at Cumbernauld this Saturday.
And teenage girls are queuing up now to compete across the mud with 121 teams entered – more than double the number a decade ago.
It is a hectic weekend for the sport in Scotland with IFAC, the international coaching conference, in Glasgow from Friday to Sunday and the ‘Athlete of the Year’ Annual Dinner on Saturday evening following the National XC Relays earlier in the day.
Almost 1700 athletes have entered for the cross country relays with the team breakdowns as follows: Men 163, Women 99, Young Males 127, Young Females 121.
The rise in the girls numbers is really heartening for the sport with 54 teams in that category having entered at the same Cumbernauld venue less than 10 years ago back in 2004 and just 32 teams entered in 1999-2000.
Steady rises since then have been boosted further over the past two Octobers with the 1693 overall tally of athletes the best for this event since it entered its current form some 20 years ago in 1993-94. That figure reaches more than 2000 when the names of ‘back-up’ athletes listed are added.
‘We are really encouraged by these figures and they prove the popularity again of national events and cross country,’ said Nigel Holl, chief executive of scottishathletics.
‘I am advised by our Road Running and Cross Country Commission that we are looking at a 20-year high in terms of entries and to have around 2000 people signing up is brilliant.
‘There are a number of factors at play including what I call the Olympic ‘tidal wave’ effect and the anticipation ahead of Glasgow 2014. We can see and feel the enthusiasm and excitement of these big global events rubbing off at grassroots level.
‘But, most of all, I credit our clubs across the length and breadth of Scotland for their hard work in getting their entries in and getting athletes – young and old – out to compete.
‘We have seen significant rises now for more than 12 months in all our national championships, be that in cross country or track and field both indoors and outdoors. ‘
There were 107 Young Female teams entered for the 2012 event at Cumbernauld but that has risen again – with 121 teams on this occasion.
‘We’re particularly encouraged with the Young Female numbers as, for this event, each team has an athlete from the U13, U15 and U17 age-group.
‘Girls in Scotland really seem to be relishing cross country and that’s marvellous. Again, it is our clubs – through parents, coaches, officials and volunteers – who are working hard on this. After getting them interested, the next thing is retention.
‘We launched our NVT Club Together scheme back early in 2012 with part-time ‘recruitment officers’ appointed to grow the sport. That was across 17 projects in Scotland and we’ve another 10 in the pipeline now – I think that is another factor in the growth in entries as well as London 2012 and Glasgow 2014.
‘In terms of this weekend’s event we are grateful to our council hosts, North Lanarkshire, on our busiest weekend of the year with hundreds of coaches receiving education at IFAC in Glasgow and then our annual ‘party’ at night with the Athlete of the Year Awards.’
North Lanarkshire Council stage the National XC Relays with help from two local clubs, Cumbernauld AC and Kirkintilloch Olympians, while Central AC will be looking to repeat their double success of last year when they picked up both the Senior Men’s and Senior Women’s titles.
Giffnock North AC won the girls race last year with Inverclyde AC taking the honours in the boys relay.