The town of Elgoibar in the Basque region of Northern Spain is the home of its now famous annual international cross country event ‘Juan Muguerza’. The race is named after local runner Juan Maguerza, a multiple national champion who was killed in 1937 during the Spanish civil war.
The competition was first held in 1943 between national level runners but changed in 1963 to an international event. The first foreign winner was Mamo Wolde of Ethiopia who went on to win three more times. The 2023 edition will take place on 8 January 2023.
This has been a very strong event for many years with a deep contingent of African and top European runners contesting the men’s and women’s events annually. Many have had success (including winning) either the European cross country or world cross country championships.
Senior men team manager Eamonn Martin said:
"England have taken men’s and women’s senior and junior teams for many years now to Elgoibar and have always been very welcomed. The competition is really good and we have had many junior winners of recent years, but in the senior events it has been very difficult. However our men and women have benefited enormously from this level of competition – for many this is the toughest race they have competed in outside of the European or World Cross Country Championships."
Zak Mahamed (coach: Idris Hamud; club: Southampton AC)
Zak was 4th in the English National in February having won the UK Cross Challenge and international event in Belfast last January. He finished 8th (first U23) in the UK European Cross Country Trial. He finished 2nd in Turin in the European U23 cross country champs in December.
Alex George (Paul De-Camps, Birchfield Harriers)
Alex had a good run in the UK Cross Challenge in Cardiff in October finishing 8th (just one place behind Zak Mahamed) having clocked 13:33 for 5000m this summer. Alex was picked to run for England seniors in the Home Countries International at Milton Keynes having previously ran for the England Junior Cross Country Team. Alex finished 3rd at Milton Keynes behind the two Mahamed brothers but ahead of Hugo Milner.
Tomer Taragano (Dean Miller, Brighton & Hove)
This will be a debut for England senior cross country for Tomer who made the GB U23 European Team for Turin. Tomer finished 11th in the trial but 4th U23 to take his place in the GB team of 6. He finished 37th in Turin in the European U23 championship. He has previously ran well as a junior, competing for England in Rotselaar, Belgium in 2020 where he was 3rd. He now appears to be adapting to the tougher rigors of senior cross country running.
Callum Elson (Cambridge & Coleridge)
Callum started this winter well with a good run at the first UK Cross Challenge in Cardiff in October (8th) and then following up with 5th at Milton Keynes UK Cross Challenge, which was also a combined Home Countries International and area match. He came 2nd at Liverpool in the short course European trial and was selected for the European mixed relay team at the European Cross in Turin. Having completed the short course at Liverpool, he also ran the long course a few hours later. This will be Callum’s first England senior international vest over cross country.
Niamh Bridson Hubbard (Phil O’Dell, Blackheath & Bromley)
After finishing 16th in last seasons’ National XC and a great track season gaining PB’s in 800/1500/mile and 3000m, Niamh started her XC season with an 8th place finish at the British Cross Challenge in Cardiff. She followed this up with 8th place in Milton Keynes, running for the South Team in the Home Countries and 18th in the European Trial.
Rebecca Murray (Craig Winrow, Bedford & County)
Rebecca has previously been part of the England teams. She gained selection with her 12th place in Milton Keynes at the Cross Challenge and 12th place in the European Trial in Liverpool (8th senior lady).
Amelia Quirk (Mick Woods, Bracknell AC)
Amelia’s start to the cross country season saw her finish 2nd in the Cross Challenge in Cardiff behind Pamela Kosgei from Kenya. Her 6th place in last year’s European Trial at Liverpool and 12th place U23 finish at the European Cross Country gives Amelia great Cross Country experience, backed up with her 5000 PB on the track this summer.
Poppy Tank (Alistair & Amy Cragg, City of Plymouth)
Poppy has been consistently competing well out in the States over 5000/10,000m on the road and track as well as cross country. A 7th placed position (5th Senior) in the European Trial at Liverpool gained her selection for the European Cross Country Championships in Turin where she finished 13th.
Edward Bird (Mark Pauley, Poole AC)
Ed started the year with a victory in the South of England Cross Country Championships in January and a 4th place in the Under 17 National Junior Cross Country Championships in February. Ed kicked off this cross-country season with a very impressive victory in the UK Cross Challenge in Cardiff in October. He followed this up in November with a 4th place finish in the UK Cross Challenge in Milton Keynes and a 6th place in the UK European Cross Country Trial in Liverpool. He finished 9th in Turin in the European Junior cross country champs in December.
Sam Mills (Harry Mills, Exeter Harriers)
Sam was Under 17 National Junior Cross Country Champion in February having represented England in Belfast in January and Diest, Belgium in February winning both races. Sam was the runner up in the UK European Cross Country Trial. He finished 4th in Turin in the European U23 cross country champs in December.
Rowan Miell-Ingram (Wendy Miell-Ingram, Radley AC)
Rowan won the ESSA English Schools 1500m Championships in July. This was achieved on the back of a cross country season that saw him represented England in Diest, Belgium in February where he finished 4th. Rowan also secured 4th place in the ESSA English Schools Cross Country Championships in March. A 2nd place in the UK Cross Challenge in Milton Keynes and an 8th place in the UK European Cross Country Trial in Liverpool.
Jack Small (Stella Bandu, Ashford AC)
Jack started the year with a victory in the Kent County Schools' Championships in January and a 6th place in the Inter County Championships in March. Jack has carried on this good form with a 5th place in the UK Cross Challenge in Milton Keynes and a 9th place in the UK European Cross Country Trial in Liverpool.
Zoe Gilbody (John Shevington, Wreake & Soar Valley)
Zoe finished 5th in the Under 15 National cross country last winter. This winter she came 2nd in the Cross Country Challenge event in Cardiff and followed that with the fastest leg at the National Cross Country relays U17 event in Mansfield.
Kiya Dee (Cheltenham)
Kiya finished 3rd in the English National cross country in February. During the summer, she completed over steeplechase and was top ranked under 20 at 3000SC. This winter in the Cross Country Challenge at Cardiff she finished 4th and in the recent Home Countries International at Milton Keynes she finished 8th. She was 10th in the European Trials U20/U17 race at Liverpool.
Libby Huxley (Andy Bibby, Preston)
Libby won the English Schools 3000m Champs in the summer. She finished 3rd under 20 at the Cross Country Challenge in Cardiff. At the European Cross Country Trial in Liverpool she finished 12th U20/U17.
Pippa Roessler (Mick Woods, Aldershot Farnham & District )
Pippa came 2nd in Diest, Belgium last February and followed that by winning the Inter Counties cross country at Loughborough in March. She then went on to win the Junior Womens 3000m at the UK Athletics Champs in June and has ran the 2nd fastest leg on leg 2 in the National Cross Country relays U20 event in Mansfield in November. Unfortunately she had to miss the Euro Cross Trial at Liverpool due to illness.
- Featured image: Zak Mahamed at Cross Country Home Country International HCI in Ireland. Photo by Mark Shearman
- This article was updated on 3 January 2023 to include Amelia Quirk following the withdrawal of Abbie Donnelly
- Read more athletics and running news