SPAR European Cross Country Championships: facts and figures

SPAR European Cross Country Championships
Getty Images

There are only five days to go until the SPAR European Cross Country Championships take place in Lisbon. The European Cross Country Championships date all the way back to 1994 and we have compiled some key facts and figures ahead of the 26th edition of the championships. 

-A total of 602 athletes representing 40 nations (including Russian athletes competing as Authorised Neutral Athletes) have entered this year’s SPAR European Cross Country Championships in Lisbon.

-The race with the largest number of entrants is the men’s U20 race with 115 entrants representing 29 countries.

-This will be the third time Portugal has staged the European Cross Country Championships after Oeiras in 1997 and Albufeira in 2010.

-Host country Portugal is the fifth most successful nation in European Cross Country Championships history in terms of gold medals won behind Great Britain & NI, France and Spain. Since 1994, Portugal has won 19 gold medals and 56 medals in total. 

-Great Britain & NI is the most successful nation in European Cross Country Championships history with 60 gold medals and 152 in total. The Brits have topped the medal table at eight of the last ten editions of the championships.

-The largest winning margin in the senior men’s race is 35 seconds when Jon Brown (GBR) beat Paulo Guerra (POR) in 1996. The biggest winning margin in the senior women’s race is 15 seconds when Annemari Sandell (FIN) beat Sara Wedlund (SWE) in 1995, although this margin was matched by Yasemin Can (TUR) in 2017 ahead of Meraf Bahta (SWE)

-There have been three clean sweeps in European Cross Country Championships history. Russia swept the men’s U20 title in 2003 and the men’s U23 title in 2014 and Great Britain & NI swept the first six individual places in the U20 race in 2008.

-The oldest winners of the senior races are Sergiy Lebid (UKR) at 35y and 160d in 2010 and Helena Javornik (SLO) at 36y and 257d in 2002. The youngest senior winners are Annemari Sandell (FIN) at 18y and 334d and Ali Kaya (TUR) at 21y and 237d. 

-The youngest participant on race day will be Greta Varga (HUN) at 15y and 354d. The oldest participant will be Maurice Turnock (GIB) at 45y and 218d. 

-Fionnuala McCormack (IRL) is making her 16th appearance at the European Cross Country Championships, a record for a female athlete. The only athletes with more appearances to their names are Sergiy Lebid (UKR) with 19 and Gabriele de Nard (ITA) with 17.

-Four former winners of the U20 races will be competing in the senior races: Karoline Bjerkeli Grovdal (NOR) in 2009 in the women’s race and Abdelaziz Merzougui (ESP) in 2010, Ali Kaya (TUR) in 2013 and Yemaneberhan Crippa (ITA) in 2014 and 2015 in the men’s race.

-Karoline Bjerkeli Grovdal (NOR) will be looking to extend her record individual medal tally for women at the European Cross Country Championships. Grovdal has won a record six individual medals, including bronze medals at the last four editions of the women’s senior race.

-The most successful athlete in terms of individual medals won is Sergiy Lebid (UKR) who won 12 medals in the senior men’s race from 1997 to 2010, including nine gold medals.   

-Both Jakob Ingebrigtsen (NOR) and Yasemin Can (TUR) are in contention to win their fourth successive titles in the men’s U20 race and women’s senior race respectively. Only eventual nine-winner Sergiy Lebid (UKR) has achieved four successive wins in the same event, winning the senior men’s race on five consecutive occasions from 2001 to 2005.

-Sergiy Lebid (UKR) is one of three athletes to win the senior men's title on more than one occasion, winning the title in 1998, 2001-05, 2007-08 and 2010. Paulo Guerra (POR) in 1994-95 and 1999-00 and Alemayehu Bezabeh (ESP) in 2009 and 2013 are also repeat champions. 

-Paula Radcliffe (GBR) in 1998 and 2003 became the first repeat winner of the senior women's race. Other repeat winners are Hayley Yelling (GBR) in 2004 and 2009, Fionnuala McCormack (IRL) in 2011 and 2012 and Yasemin Can TUR) in 2016-18.

-Andrea Lalli (ITA) is the only athlete to have won individual U20 (2006), U23 (2008) and senior (2012) titles at the European Cross Country Championships.