Stirling will become the newest venue on the UK cross country circuit as it joins a new-look British Athletics Cross Challenge circuit for the 2019/20 season.
The event is coming to Scotland on Saturday 11 January and Stirling will now host a series of races within the programme that day including the Home Countries and the Celtic International XC.
Our regular January event, the Scottish Inter-District XC Champs, will also be held that day after in the past being very much part of the Great Edinburgh XC and, in 2019, the Great Stirling XC.
After it was announced that the Great Stirling XC would not be held in 2020, scottishathletics became involved in discussions with British Athletics, Stirling Council and Event Scotland and are pleased with this solution.
‘We’re delighted to be hosting a fixture in the British Cross Challenge Series early in 2020 at Stirling,’ said Alasdhair Love, scottishathletics Events Manager.
‘It’s long been an aspiration for scottishathletics to bring one of these events to Scotland because we believe it can be a real success here – with clubs having backed spectacularly our own cross country season in recent years with big rises in numbers.
Alasdhair Love (extreme left) with cross country Officials at Cumbernauld last October
‘Stirling presented itself as a venue for January 2020 and we will take the opportunity to merge in a couple of other races to bolster the programme and generate the strong fields and a good atmosphere to be expected from a British Athletics Cross Challenge series event.
‘We really hope athletes from Northern Ireland, the North-East, the Borders, the North-West and maybe even further afield will take the chance to come and race in Scotland just as many of our athletes do at Liverpool. That would help us deliver a great day of cross country against the backdrop of Stirling Castle.’
Stirling’s races will be at Kings Park on Saturday 11 January. The series will once again kick off at Cardiff’s Llandaff Fields on Saturday 12 October before heading to Milton Keynes’ Teardrop Lakes on Saturday 9 November.
Liverpool’s Sefton Park will once again host the trials for the European Cross Country Championships on Sunday 8 December, and the series will culminate with the Inter-Counties race at Loughborough’s Prestwold Hall on March 7.
The Northern Ireland International Cross Country event in Dundonald has this year been cancelled due to fixture congestion at the start of 2020, but the meet is expected to return for the 2020/21 series.
Photo by Neil Renton
Interim CEO of UK Athletics, Nigel Holl, said: ‘We are thrilled that the Cross Challenge series is able to add the Stirling Cross Country to its list of fixtures, incorporating the Scottish Inter-District championships.
‘The Cross Challenge series has such a strong and prestigious reputation of attracting the best distance runners in the country to our shores and it is fantastic that we will have the chance to see some of the best runners on the cross country circuit in action in Stirling.
‘Cross country is etched into the very heart of training and preparations for the indoor and outdoor season for endurance athletes.
Furthermore, with Scotland leading the way in terms of running all cross country races at equal distances, the Cross Challenge event in Stirling will be yet another example of how this approach is the way forward – a model we are striving to achieve in all Cross Challenge events.
‘On a personal level I am particularly pleased that a Cross Challenge event is now heading back to Scotland.
‘With my background in the sport in Scotland, I know the passion for Cross Country that exists in clubs and among athletes the length and breadth of Scotland – including the Islands!
‘A British Cross Challenge is what athletics in Scotland deserves, and I know it will be a #muddybrilliant day.’