Point to be made is that the club doesn't have to have a single runner actually competing on the day at hte area champs (though I would advise you do as it's a great event!), just that you've been entered.
The club then sends off a form with the names of all the runners for the nationals to my knowledge.
Really great event and very much open to everyone, though the "average" level will be substantially higher than a race like FLM and a bit higher than most local 10ks, it's not ridiculous by any means. THough the front end is obviously quite a bit sharper!!!
BUt it's a wonderful race and site seeing all the senior men charge off, and, if only for a minute or so, you are right next to some of the very best runners in the country!
The way it works in my county is that the clubs have a cross country league and the top 4 plus two wildcards county-wide will be entered. Last year it was at Woolaton Park (sp?) in Nottingham and was highly awesome and on Sky Sports.
Okay, now written two long(ish) responses, and both times computer has crashed before I’ve had the chance to post it!!!
I’m now writing this in word and saving frequently!!
Okay, the original poster’s question and Nick B’s reponse are confused ( as OP is asking about one competition and Nick B has replied benignly but about the wrong competition, even though he is actually right as well!!!)
So, the UK XC structure as I understand it. Excluding local leagues and the UK cross challenge, there are 4 major “championship” events for senior men ( for school age runners there are 2 more minimum, the County Schools and English schools).
So here is each one and a little information. I’m also writing this as I do feel that there isn’t enough information made easily accessible regarding the UK XC structure for athletes who aren’t already part of it!
County XCs ( Herts., Essex, Surrey etc.)- you represent your CLUB, and are entered by them normally, all runners eligible to run for the county can compete (based on 9 months residence or Birthplace). Often used as a selection race for the team for the UK Intercounties championships.
Regional XCs (South, North, Midlands)- you represent your CLUB and are entered by them, entry is needed by the club for you to run at the National XC, all runners eligible to run for the region can compete ( check eligibility rules, very similar to above though in principle). Rarely used as a selection race, but potentially may get you an invite to compete for the region in a race if you finish in the top ten.
National XCs (England, Wales, Scotland or NI)- you represent your CLUB and are entered by them, can enter as long as club entered for regionals, all runners eligible to compete for nation can compete. Rarely used as a selection race but potentially may get an invite to compete for Nation in various matches if finish in top ten ( but realistically, if you’re at this level or even at this level in the regional XCs you’ll know the competition structure and be a very low 30 minute 10k runner) (posters question was regarding this one)
National Inter-counties XC- you represent your COUNTY and need to have been selected (usually squad of 12 or so, 8 to run, 6 to score I think…), championship between all England’s counties, and the major regions in Wales, Scotland and NI. Generally quite a high standard. (this is what Nick B was referring to!), run every year at Wollaton park, great event, televised by Sky, and also usually incorporates world trials. Quite tough to qualify for, need to be around 36 minute 10k standard at most counties. Some are almost impossible to qualify for, and some are quite weak.
To the OP- definitely get involved all standards run and enjoy themselves immensely, though the local 34-6 minute 10k champ will get a very rude awakening as the level at the top is very high!!! Average level is quite good compared to something like FLM or a major road race, and likely also than a local 10k, but there should be someone to run with. If you’re substantially slower than 60 minutes for 10k, whilst you’ll still be cheered round and can score for your club (and still probably won’t be last) there will be less to run with than at a the large road races.