It’s not just top Scottish athletes who are breaking Records these days – the sport itself is hitting new levels in terms of participation for many events in cross country and track and field.
Governing body scottishathletics have confirmed that the overall entry tally for the Lindsays National XC this weekend at Falkirk is once again a best-ever since the men’s and women’s championships combined back in season 1993-84 at Irvine.
The 24th edition of the event in this format will feature a total of 2330 athletes entered – including a new Record field in the Women’s race, with 382 entrants up by four on last year.
Senior Men race 10K this year, as do the women, and there’s been a significant increase there with the entry number now edging towards 900 and getting close to the tallies seen in the late 1980s. The 887 figure is the biggest for 20 years since the 1997 Men’s entry.
‘Once again the National XC continues to be the crown jewels of our winter season,’ said scottishathletics chief executive Mark Munro.
‘I’m delighted to see the greatest ever number of entries in 24 years of combined championships for men and women. In particular, it’s fantastic to see the Senior Women’s race growing year after year – it’s not so long ago that figure was close to 200 and now it is almost at 400.
Six years ago the entry tally for Falkirk was 1799 athletes, so 2330 this year represents a rise of 30 percent on the 2011 figure in that period.
‘There will be some terrific racing across all age groups this year with some very competitive fields,’ added Munro.
‘However, for me, it is one of the greatest spectacles in sport when you see the Senior races with club runners of all abilities from age 20 to 80+ lining up against Olympians.
‘In recent years we’ve seen Olympians like Beth Potter, Freya Ross, Andy Butchart, Callum Hawkins and Derek Hawkins all win this event. Laura Muir won the U20 title five years ago.
‘I would personally like to thank Lindsays for their continued support of the cross country; their backing has certainly enabled us to improve the delivery of the event year after year.’
Rio duo Callum Hawkins and Beth Potter look strong favourites for the Senior golds – Potter having won it last year for the second time en route to appearing at her first Olympics over 10,000m.
Scottish half marathon record-holder Callum for his part has one previous title to his name with brother Derek, who is not racing this year, having won it twice. Butchart is on the start-list but has hinted he won’t be racing as his Central AC team-mates look for seven-in-a-row in terms of the Men’s team title.
London 2012 Olympian Freya Ross, a six-times winner, is a huge fan of the event after competing in the National XC for 20 years.
‘I think it is such an exciting event that clubs get behind it and support,’ said Freya.
‘There are people coming to Falkirk from every part of Scotland to race and that’s great for the sport. It is a focoal point on the calendar and people build towards it through the winter.
‘Whatever the age group, athletes want that opportunity to compete with the best in the country and maybe be the best in the country – as an individual or as a team.
‘The Women’s race has really grown and it doesn’t look like an extra 2K has put folk off – and nor should it. Loads of women are running 10K on the road now and this is just a different type of challenge and I think many will enjoy it just the same as they do every year.’