By Owen Morgan
Charlie Hulson will spearhead an impressive line-up of Welsh athletes heading to Liverpool on Saturday looking for domestic and European glory.
The latest British Athletics Cross Challenge event at Sefton Park doubles up as a selection trial for the Great Britain team to compete at the SPAR European Cross Country Championships in Holland on December 9.
Although there is no national team competition in Liverpool, Welsh Athletics see the event as an important international opportunity to compete against a top class field drawn from around the UK.
As a result, 21 athletes have been selected to compete in the senior and junior races at Liverpool with a view to challenging for Great Britain selection at next month’s European Championships in Tilburg.
The men’s senior team is spearheaded by Hulson, who won the Cardiff Cross Challenge last month.
The North Wales-based athlete should feel at home once again as a member of Liverpool AC. He is joined by fellow North Walian Rob Samuel, of Eryri, and Cardiff AAC’s Dan Nash.
The Welsh senior men’s team of three will be supplemented by the considerable presence of six-time Welsh Cross Country Champion Dewi Griffiths.
The Llanfynydd farmer is in excellent form having run the fastest parkrun time recorded anywhere across the globe last weekend. His time of 14:12 at the Llanelli Coastal Park event was the third fastest parkrun time of all time.
Griffiths will be looking for a place on the GB team for Holland as well as representing his club Swansea Harriers in the UK European Clubs Trial.
The Harriers team also features World Championship and Commonwealth Games marathon man Josh Griffiths and fellow Wales and Great Britain international Kris Jones.
A strong Welsh women’s senior team features Commonwealth Games bronze medallist Melissa Courtney, who will be making her cross country season debut.
The Poole AC athlete is joined by fellow Commonwealth Games competitor Jenny Nesbitt, along with Cardiff AACs Charlotte Arter and Brighton Phoenix’s Beth Kidger, who was runner-up at the Welsh Cross Country Championships back in February.
One of the most exciting clashes of the day from a Welsh perspective should come in the junior men’s race, where team mates Jake Heyward, of Cardiff AAC and Matt Willis, of Wrexham AC, will be up against each other.
Heyward literally strolled to victory in the junior men’s race at the Cardiff Cross Challenge, while Willis won the Milton Keynes event a month later, on the same weekend Heyward was winning at the Cross de Atapuerca in Spain.
Another young Welsh athlete hoping to impress will be junior women’s representative Cari Hughes. The Swansea Harrier finished third at the Cardiff Cross Challenge and helped her Loughborough University team to success at the English National Cross Country relays earlier this month.
Away from the official Welsh Athletics team, other Welsh athletes on the start list for Liverpool include current men’s Welsh Cross Country Champion James Hunt, of Cardiff AAC and the reigning women’s champion Bronwen Owen, of Leeds City AC.
The Liverpool event is the third of six events which make up the British Cross Challenge Series. Saturday’s timetable begins at 10.45am and will feature races from U-11 all the way up to seniors races which will round of the event.
Following the event, Great Britain men’s and women’s senior, U23 and junior teams will be selected (6 athletes per team) along with a senior mixed relay team (2 senior men and 2 senior women) for the European Championships in Tilburg. The team will be announced on November 28.
Full Welsh Athletics teams for British Athletics Liverpool Cross Challenge:
Senior Men: Dan Nash (Cardiff AAC), Charlie Hulson (Liverpool Harriers), Rob Samuel (Eryri)
Senior Women: Jenny Nesbitt (Worcester), Charlotte Arter (Cardiff AAC), Beth Kidger (Brighton Phoenix), Melissa Courtney (Poole)
Junior Men: Jake Heyward (Cardiff AAC), Oliver Barbaresi (Menai Track & Field), Matt Willis (Wrexham AC), Dominic Smith (Swansea Harriers), Elliot Lawrence (Swansea Harriers), Ben Thomas (Carmarthen Harriers), Larry Ryan (Cardiff AAC)
Junior Women: Kiara Frizelle (Cardiff AAC), Cari Hughes (Swansea Harriers), Eden O’Dea (u17; Wrexham AC), Ashleigh Willis (u17; Swansea Harriers), Mia Roberts (u17; Deeside AAC), Nia Clatworthy (u17; Cardiff AAC).