2 March 2019
Bathurst to host World Cross Country
For the first time since 2001, Australia will host an IAAF championship with the exciting announcement that Bathurst will host the 44th IAAF World Cross Country Championships on March 20 in 2021. David Tarbotton reports from the announcement.
Located three hours drive, directly west of Sydney, Bathurst, with extensive Government support (Destination NSW and the Bathurst Local Council) was named as the venue for the event. A key reason for Bathurst being awarded the event was the infrastructure already in place for the regular motor car racing at Mount Panorama. The IAAF will have significant input into a course which will be a 2km loop.
Two NSW athletes, Paige Campbell and Ben St Lawrence, who were present at the announcement were particularly excited that a regional town was selected to host the race.
“I’m from regional NSW, I grew up near Warren and go to University in Orange,” noted Campbell.
“It will be a massive bonus for the athletes to have their friends and family come along and not have to travel to Europe.”
St Lawrence has an even closer relationship with Bathurst.
“I’m really excited. I lived in Bathurst for five years going to university here and have run a few laps of the mountain. I’ve also been to two world cross country events, in Spain and Scotland. It seems surreal that world cross country is coming to Bathurst. In a major city it might get lost amongst other events, but in Bathurst it will be the talk of the town in the lead up to it.
“I’d be really proud of showing off this area to the world running community and hopefully having a mass participation event and getting the community involved. We will be able to watch some of the best athletes in the world race, which is really exciting.”
The current national 10,000m record holder didn’t discount a dip at selection.
“I will have to train up and see if I can make another team.”
The event will be the fifth IAAF athletics event held in Australia.
1. 1985 IAAF World Cup in Athletics, Canberra
2. 1988 IAAF World 15 Kilometres Road Race for Women, Adelaide
3. 1996 IAAF World Junior Championships, Sydney
4. 2001 IAAF Grand Prix Final, Melbourne
Australia have been regulars at the world cross country championships, having participated in 38 of the 43 editions and every championship since 1981. Australia made their World Cross Country debut in 1975 in Rabat, Morocco, with a 12-person team including NSW athletes Rob McDonald, Dennis Nee, Bob Talay and Liz Richards.
Australia have won three medals at the world cross country, Benita Willis a gold in 2004 and two bronze medals in the open womens team in 2008 and open womens short course team in 2006.
A number of NSW athletes have competed at multiple events including:
Men - 7 Martin Dent; 5 Jamie Harrison; 4 John Andrews, Colin Dalton, Wayne Larden
Women - 5 Kerryn McCann, Lara Tamsett, Eloise Wellings; 4 Krishna Stanton, Suzy Walsham
NSW is sure to have good representation in 2021. They could include NCAA in-form cross country athletes Morgan McDonald (first in 2018) and Jess Hull (third in 2018), along with Paige Campbell, Ollie Hoare, Jordan Gusman, Chloe Tighe, Celia Sullohern, Marnie Ponton & Eloise Wellings.
Many of NSW's leading distance runners have made their international debut in the junior race at the World Cross Country Championships, including: Celia Sullohern in 2011 and Morgan McDonald in 2013.
A Local Organising Committee will be formed and from experience with other Games and Championships, there are many responsibilities for this committee and a wider group, including: ticketing, security, volunteer management, accommodation, transport, protocol, ceremonies, media, press operations, marketing, athlete services, catering, IAAF support, competitions, accreditation, visa services, language services, medical, publications and more.
David Tarbotton for Athletics NSW
Image: Darren Gocher, Paige Campbell, Benn St Lawrence and Peter Bromley. (courtesy of David Tarbotton)