16 January 2016
Kate Avery (coach: Tony Simmons, club: Shildon) and Andrew Butchart (Derek Easton, Central) were the highest placed Brits at the Antrim International which incorporated the third leg of the British Athletics Cross Challenge.
Avery returned to the cross country scene a week after racing to victory at the Great Edinburgh X Country. However, she admitted to struggling more on the muddy sections of the course in comparison to the other leading athletes on the day but still finished a credible fourth place in a high quality senior women’s field.
Avery said: “The ground was a lot worse than Edinburgh last week. However, I think I performed well today as I beat some really good girls. I am not sure about my next cross country race, but my priority is obviously Rio for the 10,000m.”
The Antrim International, which is one of 12 IAAF world permit cross country events, was won by African 10,000m champion Alice Aprot Nawowuna from Kenya. Ireland’s Fionnuala McCormack narrowly beat Avery by three seconds after losing out in Scotland last week, to place third overall.
Louise Small (Mick Woods, Aldershot Farnham & District) was the second Brit home in eighth place earning valuable Cross Challenge points with Yorkshire champion Claire Duck (Mike Baxter, Leeds) the third Briton to cross the line in ninth.
In the senior men’s race, Scotland’s Butchart continued his strong start to 2016 finishing sixth in a stacked field of international cross country stars. The British international athlete worked hard around the undulating course to collect the full allocation of Cross Challenge points.
Butchart commented afterwards: “I am really happy with that run and I worked hard against some of the best runners in the world. I consider my performances over the past eight days to be very good (He finished 7th in Edinburgh).
“It is nice to come to Ireland and repeat my Edinburgh performance. I was very impressed with the support here.”
Jonny Hay (Woods, AFD) was the next Briton home in seventh place with Andrew Douglas (Inverclyde, Sophie Dunnett) claiming some notable scalps for tenth position.
Bahrain’s Aweke Ayalew took the spoils overall in the men’s race, winning in a time of 21:25, the same time given to second place Thomas Ayeko of Uganda. However, the former was adjudged to have taken the victory. Kenya’s Timothy Cheruiyot was third, just two second further behind in a thrilling finish to the final event of the day.
Mollie Williams (David Turnball, Stockport) earned her first Cross Challenge win in the U20 women’s category, storming to victory with 15 seconds to spare ahead of Rosie Johnson (Eddie Bairstow, Liverpool Pembroke Sefton). Georgia Fear (Ben Pochee, Highgate Harriers) completed the podium places after a tight battle to the line.
Euan Gillham (Robert Hawkins, Kilbarchan) won the U20 men’s race to build on his current form after earning a call-up to the British team in Edinburgh last weekend. He outlasted Paulos Surafel (Nick Anderson, Enfield & Haringey AC) and Emile Cairess (Philip Townsend, Leeds) who finished second and third respectively.
Olivia Nelson and Sol Sweeney (Catriona Helen Tavendale, Perth Strathtay) were triumphant in the U17 categories at Greenmount Campus whilst Omagh’s Niamh Heaney and Sam Hart (Nicholas Bull, Team Kennet) won the U15 races. The U13 events kicked off proceedings in Northern Ireland with Femke Rosbergen (David Pring, City of Norwich) and Eden Runners’ Sam Almond claiming the race victories.