Athletics News

Who, what and when guide: English Schools Cross Country Champs

Innes FitzGerald urges fellow athletes to make eco-friendly choices

Teenagers head to Pontefract in West Yorkshire for the English Schools Cross Country Championships this weekend

Innes FitzGerald and James Dargan are among those in action this weekend as the 63rd boys and 45th girls English Schools Cross Country Championships take place at Pontefract Racecourse on Saturday (March 16).

FitzGerald, from Devon, will be looking to defend her senior girls title after her victory in the under-20 women’s race at the Inter-Counties Cross Country Championships and World Trials in Nottingham last Saturday.

The 17-year-old will be ready for one last race before she travels to Belgrade for the World Cross Country Championships on March 30.

Speaking to Vinco Sport, FitzGerald said: “This one is a big one because it will be my last English Schools event. I did my first one in Year 9 and I came way down the field in that one but that was kind of my turning point, it was my first insight into the competitive side of the sport.

“To get an English Schools title is always such an amazing achievement, it’s a competition that we target throughout the year, it’s such a good springboard from the low-key events.

“There’s always the pressure of trying to reclaim your title as a reigning champion but you always have to remember that you don’t know what other people are doing and how their training is going, sometimes there’s things that you cannot control so I try not to let the nerves get to me.”

Innes FitzGerald (Gary Mitchell)

Other competitors will include Eliza Nicholson from London, who finished second behind FitzGerald at the Inter-counties, West Yorkshire’s Rebecca Flaherty, the world mountain running champion who finished second last year, plus Zoe Gilbody from Shropshire, last year’s inter girls winner.

In the senior boys race, Hampshire’s James Dargan and Suffolk’s Henry Dover, both selected to represent GB in Belgrade, will put their friendship aside as they go head-to-head for the English Schools title.

They will face tough competition from Aron Gebremariam, the Inter-Counties champion from the West Midlands, who delivered an impressive performance last weekend which saw Dargan finish in second and Dover in fourth.

James Dargan (Mark Hookway)

Dargan told Vinco Sport: “I hit the new year with my entire focus on the World Cross Country Championships, but mainly on the Inter-Counties and English Schools to hopefully then help build up towards Worlds.

“I’m going into it confident, last week…

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