Liam Adams of Team Australia competes in the Men's Marathon on day two of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games (© Getty Images)
There’s a lot of historical context attached to the World Athletics Cross Country Championships Bathurst 23. The first international Cross Country Championship in Australia, the first senior World Athletics Championships in Australia, and the first time a motorsport circuit has become home to the world’s best runners for an event of this calibre.
However, there’s something a little extra that has got the Australian distance running community talking – an opportunity we’ve never witnessed the likes of before. The opportunity for the public to earn a spot on the start line in either the U20 World Championship Race or the Open World Championship Race. by placing top-7 in each age & gender category.
The Golden Ticket Race is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for talented runners to line up against the world’s best – and with a huge range of ages, training grounds and international experience – it’s ‘the race before the race’ that a lot of us are keen to see.
- U20 4km Golden Ticket Race – Top 7 Male & Top 7 Female athletes will qualify to race in the U20 World Championship Race (8km)
- Open 6km Golden Ticket Race – Top 7 Male & Top 7 Female athletes will qualify to race in the Open World Championship Race (10km)
Headlining the Open Men’s 6km field in the Golden Ticket Race will be 8x World Cross Country-representative and multiple National Cross Country Champion, Liam Adams (AUS). Adams will be in the hunt for a chance to claim a ticket so that he can line up once more, 30 hours later, against a global field that will include defending Champion Joshua Cheptegei (UGA) & Geoffrey Kamworwor (KEN).
Nearing the twilight of his career but still one of the strongest runners in the country, Adams has performed on every global stage for Australia, and will be a treat for anyone at Mt Panorama to witness as he makes his way around the course on Friday morning.
The tactics behind this race will be riveting, as the other hot favourites to secure their Golden Ticket include the young North Sydney-based trailblazer, Ed Goddard (AUS), 2018 World Half Marathon representative and 2:14-marathoner Thomas Do Canto (AUS), and multiple World Mountain Running-representative, Leo Peterson (AUS) who will be adept to tackling the tough terrain in front of the field.
The Open Women’s field, also completing three 2km laps to try and qualify themselves for the Senior World Title Race, will have numerous Australian representatives. Sarah Klein (AUS) will rely on her long-distance strength which saw her place 14th in the Marathon at the 2022 Oregon World Athletics Championships, whilst previous World Cross Country representatives Paige Campbell (AUS) who competed in the last World Cross event in 2019, and Lexy Gilmour (AUS) in 2017, will also fancy their chances of getting themselves next to the World Title favourite and 5,000m/10,000m World Record Holder – Letesenbet Gidey (ETH) – on the 10km start line.
It will be a mostly local affair in the U20 races, which will be contested over two 2km laps, with many of NSW’s young junior prodigies having an incredible opportunity to be a part of a World Athletics U20 event representing themselves on the day, no doubt with some very proud parents watching on the sidelines.
The Golden Ticket races will be held between 8am-10am on Friday, 17th February, at Mount Panorama. The World Championship events will take place from 3:30pm on Saturday, 18th February.
If you’re interested in joining the Golden Ticket Races, either for the Open (6km) or U20 (4km) age groups, there’s still time to register – https://worldathletics.org/competitions/world-athletics-cross-country-championships/bathurst23.
By James Constantine for WXC Bathurst 23