Norfolk Showground ready to host English Schools Cross Country Championships

Paula Radcliffe and Mo Farah have both previously competed in the English Schools Cross Country Cham

Paula Radcliffe and Mo Farah have both previously competed in the English Schools Cross Country Championships, which are set to take place at the Norfolk Showground in March. Picture: PA - Credit: PA

The biggest schools sporting event is coming to Norfolk when the English Schools Cross Country Championships take place at the Norfolk Showground on Saturday, March 18.

Every county in England will be sending six teams in the various age groups. This year even the Channel Islands and the Isle of Mann will be involved.

There will be well over two thousand athletes taking part and there is no doubt that the start of each race will be quite a spectacle.

How important is the event? Almost all of our senior international middle and long distance runners will have taken part in these championships in the past.

Paula Radcliffe didn`t make the best of starts in the English Schools event but she went on to great success and still holds the women's world marathon record. Four times Olympic gold medallist Sir Mo Farah has been a winner whilst Olympic triathlon gold medallist Alistair Brownlee is another former English Schools cross country champion.

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Norfolk has had some success too. In the 1960s Mike Tagg won three cross country titles and represented Great Britain in the Mexico Olympics over 10,000m. Darren Mead won the under 17 boys title in 1985 and went on to run for Great Britain in the World Cross Country. Rosie Betts also won the under 17 girls title in 2006. Another individual win came the way of Mitch Goose who won the senior boys race in 2007. This was also the year when Norfolk won the senior boys team title. Mitch represented Great Britain over 5,000m in 2012 in the European Championships.

How will Norfolk`s athletes do this year? Of the six Norfolk county teams it is the under 17 girls team that looks the strongest.

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They will be looking to build on their third team place at Nottingham last year when most were in the under 15 age group.

One thing is for sure and that is there will be surprises and some disappointments.

For some selection for their county team will be the peak of their athletic success and for others it will be a stepping stone to success at the world level.

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