Scottish athletics turns its focus on Falkirk for the tenth time in a row this weekend.
The Scottish National cross country championship is back at Callendar Park for the tenth year in a row.
Appropriately, this year ten races are being staged around the new-look course and Sunday’s event has attracted the biggest entry field for 21 years - with 2213 names put forward.
‘I am delighted to see such a great entry for the National XC Championships,’ said scottishathletics chairman, Ian Beattie.
‘This is one of my favourite days in the athletics calendar, and I am looking forward to seeing such a large number of clubs taking part across all age groups – the highest number of entries since the first joint championships were held in Irvine 1994.
‘This is the 10th consecutive year that the National Cross Country Championships have been held at Falkirk. We are hugely grateful to Falkirk Community Trust for their continued support, also to the host club, Falkirk Victoria Harriers, and to all of the officials and helpers who put in so much work to make this day such a success.
‘I think it says a lot about our inclusive nature of our sport that one of the marshals will be Freya Ross, a many time winner of the Women’s title, and one of the GB marathon team at the 2012 London Olympics.”
Ross, of course, does not have far to travel, living in Larbert and regularly using Callendar park as a training route for her running.
She has won the event six times since it has been staged in Central Scotland and Ross told The Falkirk Herald last year: “We are lucky in central Scotland to have some lovely places to run. I use Callendar Park and along the canal regularly for training.
“It’s a great and tough little course for junior runners.
“ There are a couple of tough hills and a variety of surfaces to contend with – the back half of the course (as it was then laid-out) is tough - it’s a real tester.”
Though she will not be amongst it to regain one of her titles, the tally of 331 senior women on start-lists for the big day is the largest number of those available on record.
The figure is up by 101 athletes on the entry list from 2014 and just four years ago the tally was 1799. This term is also the fourth year in a row that the tally for senior women has been over the 300 mark.
As well as the national titles, the races are the culmination of the scottishathletics Cross Country Grand Prix which has £4000 in prizemoney resting on the outcome, and the races are the most important of the series with double points on offer in Falkirk.
“There have been some top quality cross country performances so far this season from Scottish athletes – at home, down south and in Europe. I am sure we will see more quality performances a week on Sunday; not just at the front of the races but at all points throughout the large fields,” added Ian Beattie.
While Scotland turns its attentions on Callendar House, Callendar Park and Falkirk in general, south of the border the English equivalent is being held in London.
Four times as many runners will be taking part around Hampstead Heath, than Callendar Park, but given the huge difference in population sizes, the ratio of Falkirk’s runners to residents makes Scotland’s tenth, and biggest event yet at Callendar Park, the up and coming event on the athletics circuit.