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UK Athletics

Tickner and Reed win World Trials

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European Trials winner Frank Tickner and World Students silver medallist Kate Reed scored front-running victories in the World Trials incorporated into the BUSA Cross Country Championships at the University of Bath on Saturday 3 February.


Both led all the way in conditions that were as sunny as the Norwich Union Great Britain and Northern Ireland Team will find at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Mombasa, Kenya, on 24 March – but, after a night of hard frost, probably 25° Celsius cooler.


Leading men: 1 Frank Tickner (Birmingham University / Wells City Harriers) 33:13; 2 Ben Noad (Highgate Harriers) 33:21; 3 Phil Nicholls (Tipton Harriers) 33:24; 4 Michael Skinner (Blackheath and Bromley) 33:40; 5 Jason Ward (Altrincham) 33:42; 6 Steve Vernon (Stockport) 33:43; 7 Phil Wicks (Belgrave) 33:47; 8 Alan Buckley (Gateshead) 33:53; 9 Joe McAlister (Queens) 34:12; 10 Tom Payn (Birchfield) 34:13.


Leading women: 1 Kate Reed (Bristol and West AC) 21:25; 2 Hatti Dean (Hallamshire Harriers Sheffield) 21:46; 3 Felicity Milton (Durham University) 21:54; 4 Elle Baker (Brunel University) 21:55; 5 Wendy Jones (Cirencester) 22:04; 6 Vicky Gill (Chorley) 22:09; 7 Jo Wilkinson (Bedford and County AC) 22:13; 8 Sonia Thomas (Sale Harriers Manchester) 22:20; 9 Gemma Phillips (Kendal) 22:21; 10 Faye Fullerton (St Mary’s University Twickenham / Havering Mayesbrook AC) 22:25.


The first threes over the line are automatically selected for the World Championships. They join pre-selected Mo Farah (Newham and Essex Beagles), Jo Pavey (Exeter Harriers) and Hayley Yelling (Windsor, Slough, Eton and Hounslow). The full Senior Teams will be announced in the middle of next week so that they can all make arrangements to go to an acclimatisation camp arranged by UK Athletics in Durban, South Africa, to fully prepare for the steamy conditions in Mombasa.


The Junior Trials are incorporated in the UK Inter-Counties Cross Country Championships at Nottingham on 24 February.


Tickner, in the final year of his English and French degree course at Birmingham, said after winning the BUSA title for the second successive winter: “I went in with the mindset of just focusing on BUSA. I knew I would have to push it up the hills. I was comfortable until the last lap.


“Now I need to talk to my mentor, Clive Thomas, to see whether I can go to Durban and fit in my month of final exams. I’m ridiculously busy with work.”


Noad, who edged second place after a tremendous race-long battle with Nicholls, said: “The Worlds in Kenya is a difficult prospect. I had a bad experience at the Worlds in Japan last year so I really wanted to make this team to redeem myself a little bit.


“Phil’s a tough runner. We were both trying to get to Frank. We were close but never quite close enough.”


So Noad is now sure of a memorable spring. A fortnight after the Worlds, he will marry his fiancée, Stacia Winchester, in New Jersey, USA. And Stacia was the first to congratulate him on making it to Kenya … and Durban!


Nicholls, who was frequently close to GB honours as a Junior, said of him impending debut at the end of his best winter yet: “It’s about time! It kind of makes me sad because it’s been there for ages. It’s been a case of putting it into practice. I’m loving having no injuries!”


Women’s Trials winner Reed, who is coached by UK Athletics Senior Performance Manager for Endurance Alan Storey, relished being named favourite before the race – and reflected on how her season has evolved brilliantly from a nervous start at the European Trials in Liverpool. “That was my first race because I’d been injured but now I feel I’m finally back into really good shape,” she said.


“I’m looking forward to going to Durban. It will help us prepare properly and bond as a team. And I’m looking forward to some sunshine; I hate the rain and cold. It will kick-start my summer season – it will basically be warm weather training.”


Dean, delighted to have erased the memory of a poor European Trial in November after a brilliant series of runs in the UK Cross Challenge last winter, said: “I’ve not had any jabs or asked for time off work [she’s a Civil servant] because I didn’t want to tempt fate. The medical advice about Mombasa came out at Christmas, just after I’d missed the Europeans and picked up an injury.


“I much prefer the thought of going to the Worlds rather than the Europeans, anyway. And in Kenya – amazing! It’s a good job my boss is brilliant; I think I’ll get the time off to prepare properly.”


Milton, the discovery of this cross country season, held off a sustained challenge from Elle Baker to clinch the final automatic qualifying spot and then talked of “a massive experience” in Durban and Kenya.


“I am so looking forward to it,” said the Durham University student who freely confesses she would still have been playing hockey, a bit of tennis and horse riding if fellow students had not hooked her on the cross country scene.


“I just wish I could charge my batteries at night so that I could do everything,” she said.


For full results, please visit the Joe Lee website