On a bright, sunny but very cold afternoon cross country runners turned out in droves to compete in the Saucony English National Cross Country Champs at Parliament Hill Fields which many consider as the Home of the Sport.
Once again the City of London and the English Cross Country Association served up a great event, which many said ran like clockwork and was enjoyed by athletes of all ages both male and female.
Ian Byett from the English Cross Country Association crunches the numbers.
Clubs throughout England have seen a boom in membership which has spread to the National Championships and vast numbers made the pilgrimage to London for this year’s event. There are 10 races staged now to cater for male and female runners in all age groups - and 8 of them produced new record numbers of finishers; one race equalled the previous best while the tenth was two short of a record.
Overall the numbers finishing this year totalled 6444, which was up 1156 on the 2015 record, a fantastic 21% growth.
The biggest field came in the Senior Men’s race where 2328 finished - an increase of 321 on the previous best set in 2015 also at Parliament Hill. The Senior Women were not far behind with 1113 - finishing up 248 on the record set also in 2015.
In the younger age groups there were also big increases, starting with the Under 13 Boys where 570 ran, 112 up on last year’s race at Nottingham. The Boys turned out in force and in the Under 15 event there were 504 finishers - up 106 on a record going back to 2009. In the Girls' races there was a record-equalling 467 in the Under 13s, while in the Under 15s the record went up 38 to 464.
The Under 17s were not to be outdone, with 356 Men finishing - his beat the record from 2012 by 20. The Women had 276 entrants compared with last year’s 252. Even the Junior Men where numbers usually dwindle, the 211 entrant record going back to the first joint Championship in 1995 was broken with 220 finishing. The one dip was the number competing in the Junior Women’s event where 146 completed their course, 2 down on last year’s record.
These records will be hard to beat as the National goes North next year and is in the Midlands in 2020.
Photo by Gary Mitchell - large selection to see and buy