Twelve months after warm and humid conditions were on offer in Chia, sub-zero temperatures could be on the forecast when Samorin - situated around 15km to the south-east of Bratislava - stages the 25th SPAR European Cross Country Championships on 10 December.
This will be the first time Slovakia stages these championships and the organisers have chosen a state-of-the-art facility for the continent’s finest distance runners. The championships will take place in the X-Bionic Sphere - a certified Olympic training centre and the official Olympic training centre in Slovakia.
The event itself will be held on a modern showjumping ground - one of 27 Olympic sports which the complex caters for - with outdoor and indoor tribunes overlooking the course. Spectators will even have a chance to follow in the footsteps of the elites as a mass participation event will be staged as part of the programme for the very first time.
Turkey and Great Britain won three gold medals apiece at last year’s championships in Chia. Yasemin Can and Aras Kaya made it a Turkish double in the senior races while Germany’s Konstanze Klosterhalfen and Norway’s Jakob Ingebrigtsen impressed with commanding wins in the U20 races. Poland’s Sofia Ennaoui and Belgium’s Isaac Kimeli won the U23 titles.
Great Britain is the most successful nation in championships history, accumulating 139 medals since the first edition in Alnwick in 1994. Former winners include distance running greats Paula Radcliffe (1998, 2003) and Mo Farah (2006) but the most successful athlete is Ukraine’s Sergiy Lebid, who claimed an unmatched nine individual senior titles between 1998 and 2010.