The British Athletics Cardiff Cross Challenge will open the 2017/2018 British Athletics Cross Challenge Series on Saturday.
The event that incorporates the first fixture in the Gwent Cross Country League has seen a far stronger entry following it's move to the Autumn.
Owain Jones (515) and Charlie Hulson (512) will race on Saturday
The men’s race will host Sale Harrier Charlie Hulson who was the winner of the English Cross Country Championships in 2015. However as a proud Welsh man will be looking to win the race in the Welsh Capital that he finished third in two year’s ago.
Hulson finished as runner up at the Cardiff 10k in September and made a solid debut for the Half Marathon, clocking 65:33 in Cardiff two weeks ago. He had said however that the British Athletics Cardiff Cross Challenge was the race he had targetted as a real test of fitness.
Swansea Harrier Kristian Jones was a runner-up last time and will be hoping to become the first Welsh finisher after also making his Half Marathon debut two weeks ago.
Jonny Hay (Aldershot, Farnham & District) was a winner in Cardiff in 2011 and took the BUCS title on a near identical course in 2012. The former English National Champion won’t be far from the front.
Mahamed Mahamed (southampton AC) was the 2015 and 2017 U20 CAU Inter-Counties Champion and is expected to make an impact in the senior age-group this time.
Graham Rush (Cheltenham Harrierrs) was fifth at the English National Cross Country Championships in February and leads a strong contingent from Cheltenham Harriers.
Andrew Heyes (Hallamshire Harriers), Phil Sessemann (Blackheath & Bromley), and Cardiff AAC duo Ieuan Thomas and Tom Marshall all have 10km bests under 30 minutes and should also feature.
The Senior women’s race will welcome last season’s Cardiff winner, Jess Judd. The Chelmsford Harrier went on to win the English title in Nottingham and the CAU Inter-Counties title in Loughborough.
The Senior Women's race pictured in 2016
Her main competition should come from Lily Partridge (Aldershot, Farnham & District) who was a winner here in 2016 and will be looking for a competitive return to racing just weeks after the Berlin Marathon.
Becky Straw (Birchfield Harriers) is a former English National Champion as an U20 and will be joined by Louise Small who has become a regular in Cardiff having finished second in 2016 and winning the U20 race in 2011.
Emily Hosker-Thornhill (Aldershot, Farnham & District) is the current South of England Champion and was a runner-up at the BUCS Cross Country Championships earlier this year.
Phoebe Law (Kingston & Poly) was the 2015 CAU Inter-Counties Champion as an U20 and was fourth at the English National in February since making the transition to the senior race.
Shaftesbury & Barnet’s Naomi Taschimowitz is another experienced International athlete who should be in the mix.
Welsh interest will sit with Jenny Nesbitt (Worcester AC) who took the Welsh Half Marathon title in Cardiff and has experience of competing for Great Britain & Northern Ireland at the European Champions on the country.
Cardiff AAC’s Charlotte Arter was second at the European Trials in Liverpool last year and went on to finish sixth at the Great Edinburgh International.
Swansea’s Verity Ockenden was the third fastest athlete at the National Road Relay Championships last week behind Judd and Arter. Ockenden was also second in Cardiff last time.
Zakary Mahamed (Southampton AC) and Luke Prior (Aldershot, Farnham & District) are the stand-out entries in the U20 men’s race. Mahamed excelled as an U17 and now makes the move to the U20 category.
Prior competed for Great & Northern Ireland at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Kampala and along with Tom Mortimer should feature.
Local man Jake Heyward (Cardiff AAC) is the European U20 Champion at 1500m and looking forward to starting his Cross Country season on his home course.
Oliver Barberesi (Menai Track & Field) as second in the series as an U17 last year but will join Heyward in the U20 category for the 2017/2018 season.
Cari Hughes enjoyed a successful end to the 2016/2017 season. The Swansea Harrier who has won in Cardiff twice before and was third last year will start as the race favourite in the U20 women’s contest.
Cari Hughes (219) is a pre-race favourite
Mia Roberts was the second U15 in the series last year. The Deeside AAC athlete will contest the U17 race on Saturday.
An 11 race programme offer racing for U11's throug to masters. The first event starts at 11:30am.