SUNDERLAND is set to welcome the country’s best runners when it hosts the National Cross Country Championships next year.
Athletes from across the nation are expected to line up at Herrington Country Park to compete in the annual event in February.
The sporting day will include a 10-race programme for both men and women, with races for five age groups ranging from Under 13s to seniors.
The starting area for the senior men’s race is expected to be 100m wide, with about 1,500 competitors going for gold.
Sunderland City Council portfolio holder for public health, wellness and culture, Coun John Kelly, said: “We look forward to welcoming competitors, spectators and visitors from across the country.
“This is a great chance to show everyone what a fantastic venue Sunderland provides.”
Olympic medal winner Mike McLeod helped promote the event, joined by Coun Kelly and a host of the region’s athletic clubs and school athletes.
The championships were last held in the city in 2007 and organisers hope to repeat the success of last year’s event at Hampstead Heath, London.
Coun Kelly added: “We are all delighted that the English Cross Country Association has decided to return to the city.
“Their decision not only shows their confidence in Sunderland’s proven ability to stage high-profile sporting and cultural events, but also in the strength and enthusiasm of the local athletic and sporting community to support the event.”
Last year’s event in the capital attracted more than 4,000 competitors, with the same amount turning up to cheer them on.
Chairman of the English Cross Country Association, John Temperton, said: “We will work with the city council to persuade a greater proportion of people to travel north on this occasion.”