The rewards are great this weekend as the final round of the McCain UK Cross Challenge Series takes place at the Inter Counties and World Trials event in Woollaton Park, Nottingham.
As well as being the final round of the UK’s premier domestic four-race cross country series and the prestige of Inter-Counties team and individual success, Saturday’s races offer up places in the Aviva Great Britain and Northern Ireland Team for the World Cross Country Championships in Jordan on 28 March for senior and under 20 age group athletes.
In the senior women’s race, Hatti Dean (Hallamshire Harriers), Stephanie Twell (Aldershot, Farnham & District), Freya Murray (Chester le Street) and Sarah Tunstall (Kendal AC) are amongst the leading contenders.
Steeplechaser Dean has used the cross country season to recover from her disappointment of missing out on last year’s Olympic Games due to injury, culminating in her victory at the English National Championships.
In Nottingham, she can expect a severe test from 19 year old triple European Junior champion Twell, who has won every race in the McCain series thus far and will be going for a clean sweep on Saturday.
Improving Scottish champion Murray and European U23 silver medallist Tunstall should also be in the mix.
In the junior women’s race, McCain series leader Louise Small (Aldershot, Farnham & District) and European junior silver and bronze medallists Charlotte Purdue (Aldershot, Farnham & District) and Lauren Howarth (Leigh Harriers) are some of the leading lights of a high-quality entry.
Lower down the age-groups, there is still plenty to be decided with under 17, under 15 and under 13 athletes vying for the prizes as the series arrives at the business end.
In the under 17s races, series leaders Danny Mills (Nnueaton Harriers) and Caira Magean (City of Lisburn) will be looking to end with a flourish.
Nick Vermont, Regional CEO at McCain Foods said: "McCain are delighted to support the McCain UK Cross Challenge which develops and nurtures UK athletics talent.
“Our consumers understand that we make good, simple food. We feel we have a role to play in promoting a healthy balanced lifestyle. Our partnership with UKA will help develop talent at grassroots level and help to find the champions of tomorrow."
All the action gets underway at 11:05am.
– but the sailors praise the new boats