Roger Alsop, a former 5000m runner, is organising a unique series of races in Cheshire on Sunday 31 May. The Run Cross Challenge will feature several middle distance cross country races with qualification leading to a final, just like track and field championships. Roger spoke about the inspiration behind the event.
Run Cross Challenge Hits Cheshire
“It’s something I’ve been thinking about for a number of years but my inspiration comes from a few different areas,” Roger explains. “As a runner I love competing in races, especially if I feel I have a chance to get involved at the sharp end, but I also enjoy watching. Even so, over the years I’ve got a bit bored of watching track races led out by pacemakers, preferring to see true run races, even if they are a bit slower, it’s the tactics that interest me. So I often wondered what it would be like to take the best 800/1500m runners out of the track environment and put them on a tougher course of the same distance, would the same people win?
“Another side to the inspiration came from my more competitive days, I used to run in the County Championships and British League, where I’d invariably do the 5000m. One year my coach had me do the 1500m at the County Championships and I really liked the change in thought process and racing tactics to aim to progress to the final and then race for the win rather than just a one-off race. Thirdly, I also enjoy watching other sports and one that really appeals to me is ski cross, where you have small fields of skiers racing over a short course.
“The run cross challenge is a combination of those inspirations, it’s a series of races over a marked up grass course of approximately 800-1000m in length. Races will be run in rounds, with athletes being placed randomly into each race. The top 50% in each race will progress to the next round with the bottom 50% being eliminated.
“But that doesn’t mean you get to go home after one race, everybody who doesn’t qualify for the final will get one further chance to run, to aim to set the fastest time of the day. So the minimum number of races anyone will do, assuming they don’t pull out, will be two, with the semi-finalists running as many races as the finalists."
There will be separate male and female competitions, with prizes in both for overall winner and fastest time. The event takes place at Holmes Chapel Leisure Centre. For more information, visit the event website.