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World Cross Country Championships hit Bathurst in 2023 – Event Guide

Check out the course, timetable, accommodation and transport options.

Check out the course, timetable, ticket, accommodation and transport options.

All photos courtesy of Fred Etter

The event

Delayed due to COVID from 2021 to 2022 and now finally, to 2023, the World Cross Country Championships comes to Bathurst, Australia on Saturday 18 February 2023.

It’s the first time since 2007 that the event will be held in the southern hemisphere (when it was conducted in Mombasa, Kenya) and only the second time the Oceania region plays host (following 1988’s edition in Auckland, New Zealand).

The event features an action packed day of five events, commencing from 2:35pm with the junior women’s race and concluding with the men’s open race at 6:05pm.

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The course

Bathurst isn’t known for cross country racing, but rather for car racing. The annual Bathurst 1000, a 1000km race for super cars, takes place at the Mount Panorama course each October.

Event organisers have made the most of retrofitting a cross country course to the available infrastructure, with a couse that will be spectator friendly and challenging for competitors.

The NSW Short Course Cross Country Championships iwere held as a test event at the venue at the beginning of August, and offer a glimpse into what the course will be like.

Conducted over a 2km loop – as is the norm for a World Cross Country event – the course nonetheless packs plenty of technical features into it. With an uphill start, there’s approximately 20 metres of elevation change across the course, including some short steep climbs and fast downhill sections.

The test event was held in a cool August day and brought mud into play… a warm February event will be much different, but will still feature a water crossing dubbed ‘the Billabong.’

A branch of a river forming a backwater or stagnant pool, made by water flowing from the main stream during a flood. Noun, Australian

It’s always hard to estimate the difficulty of a cross country course. However, for reference, the two winners of the 6km test events, Holly Campbell (22:34) and Ethan Wyatt-Smith (20:14), have 5km personal bests of 15:50 (road) and 14:59 (track) respectively.


In contrast to the 12 degree celsius day of the test event, the average February temperature in Bathurst is 27.3 degrees.

Conditions are expected to be dry, with average humidity at this time of year 46%.

Rain is only expected on 20% of days, for a low monthly total of 58mm (by comparison, it rains almost twice as often, for twice the volume, in Sydney at the same time of year).

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Expect the course to be dry and a tinderbox e.g. in May 2022, there was a small bushfire nearby. The course is very open to the elements, without much vegetation.

Australia’s record at the World Cross Country Championships

Australia has participated in 38 editions of the World Cross Country Championships.

Australia’s only individual medallist is Benita Willis (Johnson at the time), who won the 2004 title. In teams titles, the open women won bronze in 2008.

The top male finisher has been Steve Moneghetti, fourth in 1989.

Top 10 finishes have been recorded in open events by:

  • Benita Willis (thrice)
  • Rob de Castella (thrice)
  • Steve Moneghetti (twice)
  • Krishna Stanton
  • Jackie Perkins
  • Collis Birmingham
  • Craig Mottram (thrice, in the now defunct 4km short race).

Australia’s top medal hope will likely come in the mixed relay, 4x2km event. If all are available to compete, Australia’s top 1500m/3000m talent boasts the likes of Olympic finalists Stewart McSweyn, Ollie H oare, Jessica Hull and Linden Hall.

A selection trial for the Australian team was held in Canberra on Saturday 15 January. Read more about the results:

Golden tickets up for grabs

On the day prior to the World Championships, four 4km races will be held – one of either gender, in open and junior categories – with the top 7 placegetters getting to line up against the World Championship field the following day.


A number of supporting events are being held to encourage participation and attendance at the event. Consider it a festival of cross country, with opportunities for many runners to run the course over three consecutive days.

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Friday 17 February 2023

Under 20 ‘Golden Ticket’ races – $69

Open ’Golden Ticket’ races -$79

Schools Challenge – $20
Hot Lap (run as many laps as you like for 2 hours) – $69

Masters Relay 2x2km

Saturday 18 February 2023

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Corporate Challenge – team of 4 – $49.75 per runner
Club Challenge – team of 4 – $49.75 per runner
Ambulant – $30
Public Teams – team of 4 – $49.75 per runner

PM – World Championships
3:30pm Mixed Relay 4x2km
4:10pm Under 20 Women 6km
4:50pm Under 20 Men 8km
5:30pm Open Women 10km
6:30pm Open Men 10km
7:10pm Medal Ceremonies

Sunday 19 February 2023

Cross Country Challenge – multiple distances from 800m to 10km – $30 to $79

World Masters Championships (in five year age groups starting at 35+) 6km [4km for 70+]

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General admission tickets are $35 for adults and $20 for children.

Getting to Bathurst

In all likelihood, Bathurst (43,000 people) is the smallest and most remote location in the world to ever hold a World Athletics event. Travel to Bathurst from Sydney and look to stay overnight following the event.

By car: Bathurst is a 3 hour, 200km drive west of Sydney over the Blue Mountains. From Canberra, it is a 3 1/2 hour drive, and from Melbourne, 9 hours.

By coach: There is a daily coach service from Sydney’s Central station. Allow 3 hours, 30 minutes for travel.

By train: From Sydney’s Central Station there is a daily train leaving at 7:19am that takes 3 hours, 35 minutes. There are also multiple additional trains that stop at Grenfell for a connecting coach service (approximate 4 hour trip).

By air: Pelican Air operates a 50 minute flight once or twice a day from Sydney Airport, with fares starting at $149.

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Aside from Bathurst, other nearby accommodation options to consider are Katoomba (located a 90 minute drive east of Bathurst) and Orange (a 50 minute drive west of Bathurst).

Unpowered camp sites are also available at Mt Panorama for $120 during the event.

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