Same places, same faces, but new possibilities.
The cross country season once again gets underway this Saturday at Llandaff Fields in Cardiff with the first race of the 2018-19 British Athletics Cross Challenge.
Last year’s senior male cross challenge winner Mahamed Mahamed once again looks to kick on from an impressive first season as a senior, aiming for victory in the Welsh capital after falling just short last year to Sam Stabler, who is absent from the start-lists.
The Inter Counties winner however will certainly be pushed hard by the likes of Jonny Hay and Adam Hickey, with the latter showing his pedigree last season with a win at the Nationals, with Ellis Cross also a danger.
Meanwhile, European Under 23 champion and commonwealth star Jessica Judd returns to continue her long year of racing, entering as perhaps the favourite to take the victory in Cardiff.
However, she will be confronted by two recuperating figures in the form of inter counties and nationals winner Phoebe Law and multiple European medalist Kate Avery.
Law, who ended last season on such a high, is running her first race since injury, whilst Avery has also spent time away from the limelight to rebuild. This leaves a huge air of anticipation for what will be in store in the women’s race, as Law and Avery look to re-light their individual sparks when they take on the favourite Judd.
France’s Sophie Duarte and Ireland’s Sara Treacy also make up a strong international group of runners who, while not eligible for any cross challenge standings, could certainly make it an interesting race.
Elsewhere, last season’s under 20 cross challenge winner Jake Heyward takes the first step on his title defence by battling under 20 new-boys Tom Keen, Lachlan Wellington and under 17 inter county champion Rory Leonard, who looks to continue his astonishing improvement from last season.
British international Matthew Willis also looks to once again get in the mix after clinching the English Schools and finishing third at the Great Edinburgh Cross last season.
A mixture of Under 20 and Under 17 women meanwhile sees Grace Bock making the step up to under 20s after conquering the under 17s last season, while British internationals Cari Hughes and Khahisa Mhlanga also look to kick on from their strong performances last season.
Also stepping up an age group is under 15s cross challenge winner Mohamed Ali who, after looking almost unbeatable throughout last season, mnow aims to do the same in the under 17s.
English Schools champion Henry McLuckie will also be a strong contender, with the likes of Josh Dickinson and Matt Stonier also set to once again continue the cross country battles they built up last season.
The action will get underway at 11.30 on Saturday with the Under 11 Girls Race, with the timetable and race entries available on the links below.