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Cross Challenge Seeks New Sponsor
12 May 2005
A search has begun for a major new sponsor of the series of UK races that played a major part in Norwich Union Great Britain and Northern Ireland Teams winning an explosion of medals at European Cross Country Championships in the past few years.

As a result of Reebok repositioning their marketing strategy, a fantastic opportunity has arisen for a new sponsor to secure the title rights of the UK Cross Challenge Series. The Series currently features races at Birmingham, Liverpool (incorporating the European Trials), Falkirk, Belfast and Cardiff, culminating with the Final at the UK Inter Counties Championships, (incorporating the World Trials) at Nottingham, which is broadcast live on Sky Sports.

To show its commitment to these high profile events, UK Athletics has already pledged funding to support the two meetings that incorporate trials, however there is an urgent need to secure a title sponsor for the full series.

Cross Challenge Coordinator Cliff Robinson said: “The entire series is crucial to the country’s endurance development programme.”

To support his claim, Robinson cited the winners of the Under 15 and Under 13 Girls’ races at the inaugural meeting at Bristol in 1997. Louise Damen (Bournemouth AC) has progressed to the Norwich Union GB Senior Team and won the 10,000m Bronze medal on the track at the 2003 European Under 23 Championships. Her younger club mate Charlotte Moore went on to become the first UK teenage woman to run 800m in under 2 minutes when she competed in the 2002 Commonwealth Games at Manchester.

The Cross Challenge was established in 1997, following an idea developed by Trevor Frecknall to encourage ambitious endurance athletes of all ages to compete against each other more often; the series has undoubtedly contributed to Great Britain’s recent success at European Championships.

Athletes contesting the Reebok Cross Challenge made major contributions at European Cross Country Championships to GB Teams winning Junior Men’s Team Silver in 1998; Senior Men’s Team Gold, Junior Men’s Team Gold in 1999; Junior Women’s Team Gold, Senior Women’s Team Silver, Junior Men’s Team Silver in 2000; Junior Men’s Team Gold, Senior Women’s Team Silver, Junior Women’s Team Silver in 2001; Junior Women’s Team Gold, Senior Women’s Team Silver in 2002 when Charlotte Dale (Invicta East Kent) was Junior Champion and Senior & Junior Women’s Team Gold in 2003;

Last year, the Senior Women’s Team won Gold, Junior Women’s Team took Gold and the Senior Men’s Team and Junior Men’s Team both came home with Bronze medals. This was the first time any nation had won team medals in all four European Cross Country Championships races – and the three-time Reebok Cross Challenge Champion Hayley Yelling (Windsor, Slough, Eton and Hounslow AC) won the individual Senior Women’s title.

The Norwich Union GB Team Leader Alan Storey, who is the UKA Senior Performance Manager for Endurance, said: “It is vital that we maintain the successful series and continue to give athletes quality racing opportunities, laying the foundations for future international success.”

UKA Deputy Chief Executive Adam Walker said:

“A huge vote of thanks must go to Reebok for their tremendous support over the past 8 years, from inception to what is now a high profile cross country series.

“We are excited about the prospect of developing a new relationship to elevate the series to even higher levels of success. UK Athletics welcomes the opportunity of talking to any prospective sponsor, who wish to have an association with this thriving series and British success on the world stage.”



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