Town relay hits its 25th anniversary

25th anniversary of English Cross Country relays at Berry Hill Park, pictured is Pat Carlan.
25th anniversary of English Cross Country relays at Berry Hill Park, pictured is Pat Carlan.

Berry Hill Park will be welcoming the English Cross Country Relays for the 25th year next month.

The off-road event, with at least ten categories including junior and senior men and women, will feature top class athletes aiming to qualify for the Great Britain team in the European Cross Country Championships.

Pat Carlan, endurance coach at Mansfield Harriers and event organiser on the day, said the prestigious event, which has twice been graced by British 10,000m Olympic champion Mo Farah, would be a day to remember.

“Berry Hill Park is spectator-friendly - you can get round quite easily as it is so compact and it is free as well,” he said.

“We anticipate somewhere between 7-8,000 people attending on the day, including 3,500 athletes. It is the chance to see top athletes from all over the country performing - where else can you go and see that free of charge?”

The event was first held in 1987 at Crystal Palace Park and then again in the same location two years before it moved permanently to Berry Hill in 1989.

Said Pat: “It has got bigger and bigger and grown its popularity which has brought new challenges like crowd control barriers and the need for more carparking.

“It puts Mansfield on the map as people are attending from all over the country but it also brings the community together.

“The relays are great for the economy too because you get people using overnight accommodation, restaurants and petrol stations.”

But, sadly, as the relays’ profile has grown athletic club the Mansfield Harriers’ has not, since losing its facilities at the park after a row with its board of trustees.

But the club is fighting hard to rebuild and is fielding runners in every category.

The relays will be held on 2nd November and start at 11am.