Cross Country

Treacherous course conditions to challenge Europe’s best in Samokov

There’s no getting around it. This will be one of the toughest championship cross country courses on record.

The European Cross Country Championships in the mountain ski resort of Borovets, in the municipality of Samokov, is proving more questionable by the hour. The snow top mountains are thawing out and as a result the course is becoming more treacherous – even for the course markers who have had to carry the hoarding on foot with vehicles unable to carry it.

The course starts on a bottleneck which veers sharply to the right which you will be able to see on the course preview on the video below.

The course should favour the likes of Fionnnuala Britton but it will be a tough challenge nonetheless. It’s not over stretching the mark to say that it will be dangerous in parts.

Sweden’s Meraf Bahta, European 5,000m champion, would be one of the favourites for the senior women’s race but it is unlikely she will fancy this. She’s coming in from altitude training with Borovets set at 1,350m but it won’t be the rarified air she will be worried about. Great Britain’s Gemma Steel will be one of the toughest contenders.

 

The course contains mixture of gravel, mud, sand, ice and everything in between. One of the muddiest and difficult sections is in on a hilly section – see video below.

The course workers have been working to try and improve conditions. Snowfall on Tuesday which has been thawing out has made this one for the mudlarks. Below is two more videos of the start and work being done on the course.

It may be the same conditions for all runners but as former, and sadly departed, Irish Runner writer Jim Dowling wrote long ago – “They may be doing the left footed, two handed, side-sideways waltz.’

John Treacy, Catherina McKiernan, Sonial O'Sullivan
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Cathal Dennehy

Cathal Dennehy

Cathal Dennehy is a freelance journalist, a once-serious, now-retired athlete who writes for a number of international publications in the running industry. He has won two sports-writing awards, the Peter Ball Memorial Award in Ireland and the Wills Writing Award in the UK. Nationally, he previously worked for the Sunday Tribune, Irish Runner magazine and has written for the Sunday Independent, Irish Independent, the Guardian and The Independent in Britain. He is a regular contributor to Running Times, Runner's World, RunBlogRun and the IAAF website.
His banter levels are often poor, occasionally exceptional.

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