Ethiopia’s Derartu Tulu, the double Olympic 10,000 metres gold medallist, became the last big name to be added to the women's six kilometres field for the View From Great North Cross Country - IAAF Permit race - on 4 January 2003, in Newcastle's Exhibition Park.
With Britain’s Paula Radcliffe and Ethiopia's Geta Wami already confirmed on the start list the event can now boast - apart from 1998 champion Sonia O'Sullivan - every winner of the long course IAAF World Cross Country title since 1994.
”That's my budget completely spent," admitted elite athlete's coordinator Peter Elliott, after completing the deal with Tulu's agent over the weekend.
Tulu scored her first World Cross Country Championships victory in 1995 adding to her tally two years later in Turin before winning the 2000 gold medal on the Algarve. Wami chalked-up her victories when claiming the 1996 and 1999 World crowns in Cape Town and Belfast, respectively. For the last two year's, Radcliffe has dominated the long course races, outsprinting Wami in Ostend. Last March, she successfully defended the World title at Dublin's Leopardstown Racecourse.
The dominant trio have also figured prominently in past GNXC contests. Tulu, only four months after winning her first Olympic gold medal as a 20-year-old at the 1992 Barcelona Games, proved a runaway winner. Wami has three victories under her belt in 1996, 1999 and 2000, when the competition was known as the County Durham International Cross Country. Radcliffe's winning streak began in 1993 at the Beamish Open Air Museum, continued in 1995, and she took a third win at Consett in 2000.
The men's 9km event has been strengthened by adding Kenya’s Sammy Kipketer, the Commonwealth 5000 metres gold medallist who also ran the world’s fastest 10,000m of the 2002 season(26:49.38) in Brussels on 30 August. Kipketer will line up against, among others the defending title holder and reigning double World champion Kenenisa Bekele of Ethiopia.