Annette Sergent was the winner of the IAAF World Cross Country Championships title in 1987 and 1989, and now she is applying her expertise to an imaginative scheme to encourage cross-country amongst French youth by spearheading the country’s National Cross Week.
A week in this case is in fact 10 days – from 15 to the 25 October – and during this time tens of thousands of students throughout the length and breadth of the country and across all the age ranges from nursery school up to university level will compete at cross-country in an event co-ordinated by the French Athletics Federation.
The success of the scheme can be seen in its numbers. When it first started five years ago, National Cross Week attracted 80,000 participants. For 2007, 350,000 took part from 650 academic establishments and this year organisers are hoping to reach out to half a million pupils from 1000 establishments.