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world cross country report

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Farah finishes 21st in Senior Men's field
Farah finishes 21st in Senior Men's field

 

28 March 2010

Junior women’s front runner Kate Avery, first senior women’s Brit Steph Twell and GB senior men’s leader Mo Farah recorded impressive top 25 performances for the Aviva Great Britain and Northern Ireland Team  at the World Cross Country Championships in Bydgoszcz, Poland on 28 March.

It was all the more significant with the Junior men's and junior women's teams finishing as top European teams in the overall standings.

Here's how the days events unfolded:

JUNIOR WOMEN

Kate Avery (Robert Ashwood) and Emelia Gorecka (Mick Woods) led the junior women’s team to fifth in the team standings with notable performances in the first race of the day on a challenging course which comprised hard and soft ground, mud, sharp turns and artificial log obstacles.

Avery improved on her 25th place debut finish at the 2009 World Cross in Jordan to be first Brit home in 20th: She said: “I started fast and had a good race. At one point someone shouted ‘You’ve got six in the top 30’ and I thought ‘come on’!”

Debutant Gorecka, who is unbeaten in domestic cross country events since she started racing, said of her 23rd place finish: “It was amazing, I want to do it again. I’m really pleased with how I ran and I loved every second of it.”

Annabelle Gummow (Chris Wooldridge) wasn’t far behind in 30th, securing valuable points which added to the top five team finish: “It was a good run, and for my first time I ran a pretty well paced race.”

Hannah Walker (Mike Dunphy) finished the first lap in 41st place but ensured she moved up the field and added valuable scoring points coming home in 32nd place, fourth brit over the line and final scoring athlete.

She beamed: “I really enjoyed that, can’t wait to do it again! It was amazing to see all the other athletes from different countries and picking out which one I wanted to chase. It was inspiring.”

After a packed 2010 winter season Beth Potter (John Nuttall) ended on a positive performance with a solid race over the tricky course. Potter, who was 36th said: “It’s been a tough season so nice to end on a high. The race and course had a bit of everything so it was really challenging but great to run.”

Sarah Inglis (Steve Cottom) fell prey to the fast pace of the junior women’s field as they broke out of the pens and into a sharp turn. She finished in 56th place and said: “I went off too hard and wish I could re run the race differently. I’m disappointed but it will help me next time around at the Europeans next winter.”

 

JUNIOR MEN

Ronnie Sparke (Richard Thurston) opened the Junior men’s account crossing the line first out of the six Brits. The Woodford Green and Essex Ladies athlete returned to the World Cross following his 83rd place finish in Jordan and cemented a year’s worth of athletic development with a 41st place finish.

He said: “I ran with Tom most of the way and then started to push on alone. The turning point was when I saw Bob Ashwood (junior men’s team manager) who shouted to me to ‘be brave’ or ‘be confident’, something like that; which made me push further.”

He was followed home by European Youth Olympic festival 3000m champion Callum Hawkins (Robert Hawkins) and Tom Farrell (Andy Farrell), who had a great indoor season reducing Ian Stewart’s 3000m junior record by almost three seconds in February. They finished in 47th and 50th respectively.

Hawkins said: “My tactics were not to go out too hard and pick people off, I stuck to that and it worked for me. Usually at the end of the race I’m destroyed but I’m really pleased with that performance.”

Farrell noted: “I expected better but I’ve had a busy indoor track season and the last time I ran a cross country was November. I got a bit lost in the third lap. ”

Ben Norris (Andy McNeill) and Jonathan Hay (Mick Woods) were fourth and fifth for GB&NI  in 60th and 62nd overall while trials winner Richard Goodman (Geoff Williams) fell afoul of the notably awkward course which induced a 74th place finish.

Norris said: “That was tough. The start is the hardest because it’s hard to set your own rhythm. I enjoyed the race and it’s been a huge learning curve for me.”

Hay added: “I found it tough when I was left on my own. When Ben (Norris) went past I tried to latch onto him but he got away. I picked it up again and managed to do better than last year so I’m pleased.”

The team finished ninth overall with Kenya taking first.

 

Kate Avery
Top 20 finish for youngster Avery


SENIOR WOMEN

Three time Junior European Cross Country title holder Stephanie Twell (Mick Woods) was back on top form after a tricky year making the transition into senior competition.  Twell was first to earn for GB&NI with an impressive 23rd place finish, lending valuable points to the overall sixth place team finish.

The AFD athlete said: “It was fantastic, I felt really strong and enjoyed every minute of it. I constantly tried to keep people off and used the turns to my advantage. I’m really pleased I stayed strong all the way through."

Faye Fullerton (Warren Roe) followed her teammate over the finish line ten places later in 33rd, pleased to improve on her 45th place finish at the event held in Edinburgh two years ago.

“I’ve been trying to get the work in between the trials and now. I’m getting fitter week on week and it showed today. I’m really pleased. I was fifth in the pen at the back and maybe that helped me to come through steadier. Everyone set off really fast because it was firm under foot.”

Freya Murray (Steve Jones), who has benefitted from consistent periods of altitude training was disappointed with her outing after such a promising 2010 season so far. She placed 37th overall, third of the senior women over the line for GB&NI. “I didn’t really enjoy that, it felt quite flat. There was no reason for me not to have a good run.”

Stevie Stockton’s (George Gandy) 47th finish proves the youngster, who made her senior debut today and has had limited preparation has a real talent for both summer and winter athletics.

She said: “I did OK but wanted to do great to prove a point. The support here was amazing and I enjoyed the whole race.”

2009 European Cross Country champion Hayley Yelling (Conrad Milton) finished the race in 63rd position despite not feeling herself as the race began. She complained of back and leg ache which may be linked to an insect bite which recently caused her to have a stint off training.

“I felt awful with heavy legs and back ache. It took everything for me not to drop out.”


SENIOR MEN

The men’s senior team of four set out on their cross country quest against a quality field who started the race hard and fast in order to identify true contenders. The team finished 14th overall with Kenya taking the top spot thanks to a win from Joseph Ebuya and fourth place finish from Leonard Koman.

After a good start early on, running with the leading pack, European indoor 3000m champion Mo Farah (Ricky Simms) fell slightly behind the front runners, of which the majority belonged to East African nations.

As the group spread more thinly with each round of the course Farah managed to hold onto 21st until the line. Although he had hoped for a top ten finish the Newham and Essex Beagles athlete said: “It was OK but the race wasn’t easy today.”

Trials runner-up Andy Vernon (Nick Anderson), who said he had never run a race like it before, put in a great performance despite the fast paced race: “I thought I had got out well and over the third and fourth lap I caught a few more guys but then I blew up a bit. There was just nowhere to relax.” Vernon, who has only been defeated twice in cross country in 2010 to date, finished in 44th.

Mike Skinner (Andy Hobdell), who clocked back to back victories throughout the 2009/10 cross season, found the course tough to manage. He went off hard but found himself further down the race than anticipated, finishing in 65th place. “I found it hard to run at pace through the twists.”

European junior cross country bronze medallist James Wilkinson (Phil Townsend) had aimed for a top fifty finish so was disappointed to record a 107th placing. He too felt the ferociousness of the men’s field and agreed with team-mate Vernon about the relentless pace of the race. “For the whole first lap there was no let-up, no-one relaxed into positions they were just constantly pushing.” 

For full results visit: www.iaaf.org