With just over two weeks until the SPAR European Cross Country Championships takes place in Tilburg, the Warandecross on Sunday (25) will act as a de facto dress rehearsal for the centrepiece of the European cross country season on 9 December.
The Warandecross will celebrate its 60th anniversary edition on Sunday and the European Athletics Cross Country Permit Meeting will take place on the same course which will be used for the European Cross Country Championships at the at the Beekse Bergen Safari Park, situated just to the south-east of Tilburg.
Many countries traditionally use this race as one of their selection races and the Dutch team for the European Cross Country Championships will be announced after the conclusion of the Warandecross. In the senior women’s race, Maureen Koster has already been pre-selected but she will use Sunday’s race as a chance to acquaint herself with the course ahead of 9 December.
Koster will form part of a super strong senior women’s team at the European Cross Country Championships alongside Sifan Hassan and Susan Krumins, who have both been pre-selected as well. The likes of former European U23 10,000m champion Jip Vastenburg and Ruth van der Meijden will join them with a good run on Sunday.
The Dutch contingent will face strong continental opposition at the Warandecross in the shape of 2016 champion Fabienne Schlumpf from Switzerland who has been in excellent form across all distances and all surfaces in 2018. She won her first major medal with silver in the 3000m steeplechase at the European Championships and will be looking to finish her season with another next month.
Reigning champion Napoleon Solomon from Sweden will also defend his title in the senior men’s race. Solomon will face a line-up featuring two medallists from the European Championships in Berlin: European 10,000m silver medallist Yemaneberhan Crippa and his Italian teammate Yassine Rachik, the bronze medallist in the marathon.
Crippa has won individual medals at the last four editions of the European Cross Country Championships, including bronze medals in the U23 in 2016 and 2017. This year will be his final chance to improve before graduating into the senior ranks in 2019.
Dutch hopes in the senior men’s race on Sunday will be pinned on the experienced duo of Khalid Choukoud and Michel Butter.
The Warandecross is the concluding act of an annual three-day cross country event which begins on Friday with the Warande by Night before a wide range of events and programmes for all ages and abilities.