Today marks one week to go until the SPAR European Cross Country Championships return to Tilburg for the 25th edition on 9 December.
Tilburg played host to the championships back in 2005 although the location will be different this year with the championships being held at the Beekse Bergen Safari Park to the south-east of the city,
The programme will be much expanded compared to 2005 when there were only four individual races on the programme: the men’s and women’s U20 and senior races. The U23 races were added to the programme the following year in 2006 before the mixed relay was added to the programme in Samorin last year.
With seven events on the programme, this year’s edition of the European Cross Country Championships will be the biggest to date with 616 athletes from 38 countries listed on the final entries.
There will be detailed previews on the European Athletics website from Wednesday onwards as well as comprehensive race day coverage on the website as well as across our social media platforms. Live streaming will also be available on the European Athletics website from 10.30am local time with more details to follow next week.
Ahead of race day, here are some the main storylines to follow next Sunday.
Ingebrigtsen aiming for third U20 title, and a fourth in 2019
Jakob Ingebrigtsen would have almost certainly held his own against the seniors but the 18-year-old has publicly said he wants to finish his junior career with four successive U20 titles. He is the sure-fire favourite for a third U20 title in Tilburg, although European U20 1500m champion Jake Heyward and Serbia’s Elzan Bibic could provide some opposition.
A hat-trick for Can in the senior women’s race?
Yasemin Can had an indifferent summer campaign in which she ceded her grip on her European 5000m and 10,000m titles in Berlin but she has dominated the last two editions of the European Cross Country Championships. No athlete in championship history has won the women’s senior title on this occasions and the likes of three-time bronze medallist Karoline Bjerkeli Grovdal from Norway and European 10,000m silver medallist Susan Krumins will be looking to stop her.
Gressier aiming for back-to-back U23 title
Likewise, no athlete has won back-to-back titles in the U23 race. France’s Jimmy Gressier produced a high charged sprint finish to win in Samorin last year and he will be looking to put that speed to good use again next weekend.
Moller could double Denmark's gold medal tally in the U23 race
Anna Emilie Moller, who no doubt has half an eye on the 2019 IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Aarhus, has been one of the in-form athletes on the cross country circuit this season and the 21-year-old will be in contention to pick up just Denmark’s second gold medal in championship history. Moller is the reigning European U23 3000m steeplechase champion and was seventh last year. She also picked up a silver medal in the U20 race in 2016.
Is Belgium the favourite for the mixed relay title?
There will be plenty of Belgian spectators on the course next Sunday and they could have something to cheer for in the mixed relay. Their team includes former European U23 cross country champion Pieter-Jan Hannes who is returning to form after injury and 20-year-old Elise Vanderelst who improved her 1500m PB to 4:05.75 during the summer campaign. Great Britain won the inaugural title last year ahead of Czech Republic and Spain.