Runners descend on Cumbernauld for national cross-country relays

RUNNING IN THE PARK: Youngsters are put through their paces during last year's Scottish National Cross Country Relays in Cumbernauld.

RUNNING IN THE PARK: Youngsters are put through their paces during last year's Scottish National Cross Country Relays in Cumbernauld.

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Cross country in Scotland is proving ever more popular in the wake of London 2012 and ahead of the Commonwealth Games.

The sport’s governing body north of the border have received a record entry from clubs for the Scottish National Cross Country Relay Championships at Cumbernauld Park this Saturday.

It is a hectic weekend for the sport in Scotland with IFAC, the international coaching conference, in Glasgow from Friday to Sunday with the ‘Athlete of the Year’ Annual Dinner on Saturday evening following the National Cross Country Relays earlier in the day.

Almost 1700 athletes have entered for the cross country relays with the team breakdowns as follows – men 163, women 99, young males 127, young females 121.

The rise in the girls numbers is really heartening for the sport with 54 teams in that category having entered at the same Cumbernauld venue less than ten years ago back in 2004 and just 32 teams a couple of years before that.

Steady rises since then have been boosted further over the past two Octobers with the 1693 overall tally of athletes the best for this event since it entered its current form some 20 years ago in 1993-94.

“We are really encouraged by these figures and they prove the popularity again of national events and cross country,” said Nigel Holl, chief executive of scottishathletics.

“I am advised by our Road Running and Cross Country Commission that we are looking at a 20-year high in terms of entries.”

There were 107 young female teams entered for the 2012 event at Cumbernauld but that has risen significantly again – with 121 teams on this occasion.

“In terms of this weekend’s event we are grateful to our council hosts, North Lanarkshire, on our busiest weekend of the year with hundreds of coaches receiving education at IFAC in Glasgow and then our annual ‘party’ at night with the Athlete of the Year Awards,” said Nigel.

North Lanarkshire Council stage the National Cross Country Relays with help from two local clubs, Cumbernauld AC and Kirkintilloch Olympians, while Central AC will be looking to repeat their double success of last year when they picked up both the senior men’s and senior women’s titles.

Saturday’s event gets under way at 12.30 p.m.