Shropshire Star

County aces aim to shine at national championships

Thousands of the country’s best runners are heading to Weston Park on the Shropshire/Staffordshire border tomorrow for the National Cross Country Championships.


Organisers are expecting some 6,000 runners to take part in the event, which is organised by the English Cross Country Association (ECCA).

There are 10 races for under-13s, 15s, 17s, 20s and seniors for men and women, with the action set to starts at 11am.

The senior men’s race, the biggest cross country race in country, can expect to see over 1,500 finishers from 351 different clubs.

Most running and athletic clubs in Shropshire and the West Midlands will have runners taking part.

The timetable for the day is 11am u17 women 5k; 11.25am u15 boys 4k; 11.45am u13 girls 3k; 12.05pm u17 men, 6k; 12.30pm u13 boys 3k; 12.45pm u15 girls 4k; 1.05pm u20 women 6k; 1.35pm senior women 8k; 2.20 u20 men 10k; 3pm senior men, 12k.

Telford Athletic Club’s Paul Ward has designed all the courses and club members have the honour of setting the courses up and marshalling on the day.

Shropshire have had many impressive performances over the years including Zoe Gilbody, who lives in Telford and attends Thomas Telford School. She won the under-13 girls’ race in 2020 at Nottingham. In the same year she also won the English Schools and British Inter Counties titles. She was also fifth in 2022 and second in the under-17 race last year.

Beth Trow, from the Corbet School Baschurch who runs for Shrewsbury AC, was eighth in the under-13 girls’ race at Nottingham in 2020 and 14th in the under-17s last year.

Frank Tickner, who is now a teacher at Shrewsbury School and retired from racing, won the senior men’s race at Sunderland in 2007 and at Parliament Fields in 2009, representing Wells City Athletic Club.

Much Wenlock’s Olly Laws has a great history in the national, finishing second as an under-17 in 1997, 11th as an under-20 at Newark in 1999 and fifth as a senior at Bristol in 2002 while representing Telford AC.

Amanda Wright Smith, from Church Stretton and representing Birchfield Harriers, finished second at Bristol in the senior women’s race in 2002.

One of Telford AC’s best achievements in the club’s 48-year history was when the senior women’s team finished second at Sunderland in 2007.

Claire Martin led the team home in 10th followed by Louise Taylor 26th, Sian Davies 40th and Hayley Jennings 47th.

Martin finished inside the first 24 from 2003 to 2013.