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McCain Cross Challenge

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Senior Men's race McCain XC final 2010


13 March 2010

Today's McCain Cross Challenge Final incorporating the world cross country trials featured live upates from the  UKA Twitter account from Cofton Park.

Full results can be downloaded below


Senior Men (12k)

Mo Farah (Newham & Essex Beagles) produced the outstanding individual performance in the McCain UK Cross Challenge Final - incorporating the IAAF World Cross Country Trials - in Birmingham’s Cofton Park today (13 March), securing victory and an almost guaranteed place on the Aviva Great Britain & Northern Ireland team for the World Cross in Poland with victory in the senior men’s race by over 40 seconds from defending champion Andy Vernon (Aldershot, Farnham & District).

Farah, the European Cross Country Championships silver medallist, eased into the race after a cautious start with most of the work being done by former champion Tom Humphries (Cannock & Stafford) in the early stages, but he made his decisive move at halfway, increasing his lead from a few metres to a significant gap of over 100m within minutes.

As Farah tore down the long downhill stretch towards the end of the penultimate lap, Vernon and Moumin Geele (NEB), first and second respectively in the English National, were in a race of their own, with Mike Skinner (Blackheath & Bromley) - running in isolation - in fourth.

Farah’s lead continued to grow and he crossed the line in 34:41 with a determined Vernon finishing clear in second (35:25) having eventually dropped Geele who was third in 35:40.

“I felt great,” said Farah, who made the race look like a time trial. “I went out to test myself and I’m pleased with that. I finished tenth in Mombasa in the 2007 World Cross so I’ll be happy if I can match or better that this time around.”

Vernon, who departs for the US to race in April, was clearly disappointed to lose – even to Farah – but was pleased with how he ran. “If we’ve got a good team and the selectors want me to run in the World Cross then I’ll go,” he confirmed.

1 Mo Farah 34:41; 2 Andy Vernon 35:25; 3 Moumin Geele 35:40; 4 Mike Skinner 35:54; 5 Phil Hinch 36:02; 6 James Walsh 36:03

Senior Women (8k)

Making it a Scottish one-two in the senior women’s race, Freya Murray (Edinburgh AC) won her first UK Inter Counties individual title with a brilliant victory ahead of defending champion Stephanie Twell (AFD).

The lead group, led initially by Hatti Dean (Hallamshire) and then by Murray, included all of the top contenders at the end of lap one, including Twell, who had worked her way slowly into the pack from off the back of the group in the early stages, and Faye Fullerton (Havering Mayesbrook).

Going into the final 3k loop Twell, Murray and Fullerton had a significant gap on the chasing athletes, but as they swept down the long downhill into the final 2km, Fullerton, although battling hard, was dropped and the title battle was between the two Scots.

As the pair approached the final climb into the finish, Murray had pulled 10m clear on Twell and looked the stronger of the two, eventually coming home to win in 27:21. “I’m over the moon with that, I couldn’t have done anymore,” said Murray. “I really gave it my best shot. It was a great battle with Steph and I think we worked well together. I hope we can both go to Poland and do the same good job for the GB team.”

“Freya’s a tenacious athlete and she ran well,” said Twell who finished second in 27:30. “I knew coming into the race I’d be racing against top opposition, but I think we worked well together as a group.”

Fullerton took third in 27:41.

1 Freya Murray 27:21; 2 Steph Twell 27:30; 3 Faye Fullerton 27:41; 4 Hannah Whitmore 27:47; 5 Emily Pidgeon 27:54; 6 Laura Kenney 28:04

If it was possible, junior duo Emilia Gorceka (AFD) and Richard Goodman (Shaftesbury Barnet Harriers) recorded even more impressive performances in the under-20 events.

Junior women (6k)

Gorecka - who had a lead of almost 15 seconds on the chasing trio of Beth Potter (Victoria Park City of Glasgow), Kate Avery (Shildon) and Lily Partridge (AFD) before the half way point - dominated from the early stages of the women’s race and continuing her unbeaten run over cross country.

As her lead increased through to the finish for victory in 20:40, Annabel Gummow (Bristol & West) - unbeaten in 2010 prior to today’s race - moved into the mix in the minor positions to finish second (20:53), with Hannah Walker (Dacorum & Tring), bronze medallist in the English National, coming through for third (21:00).

“I think I’ve definitely done enough to get picked for Poland,” said Gorecka who stepped up from the under-17 age. “I felt good and I really enjoyed it – it was great to line up with those older girls and get that experience. I planned to sit in and watch what they did but I was able to pull away and come out on top. I’m lucky to have the great support of my family and my coach Mick Woods and I definitely have them all to thank in the progress I’ve made so far.”

1 Emilia Gorecka 20:40; 2 Annabel Gummow 20:53; 3 Hanna Walker 21:00; 4 Sarah Inglis 21:04; 5 Beth Potter 21:05; 6 Eleanor Wimshurst 21:13

Junior men (8k)

In the junior men’s event, the opening race of the day, English National champion (under-17) Richard Goodman (Shaftesbury Barnet), matched Gorceka’s demolition of her older counterparts with a well executed victory in the under-20 men’s event.

He was one of the form athletes going into the weekend and set the pace as one of a lead trio alongside Callum Hawkins (Kilbarchan AAC) and Dewi Griffiths (Carmarthen), the Scottish and Welsh Natioanl cross country champions respectively.

As the race progressed, Ben Norris (Notts), the English Nationals bronze medallist, joined the fight for the podium positions at the expense of Griffiths, while in the latter stages, Johnny Hay (AFD), who led the charge of the chasing group behind the lone Ronnie Sparke (Woodford Green with Essex Ladies) in fourth, eventually broke clear in fifth.

The excitement was at the sharp end however and Hawkins was eventually dropped leaving it to Goodman and Norris to battle it out for victory in a sprint finish, the Shaftesbury athlete having the pace to take an outstanding win in 25:04.

“I’ve not been used to such close finishes this season,” said Goodman. “I know Ben’s got great endurance so my coach Geoff Williams said if I held on to him and it came to a sprint finish I’d have a great chance. I just said a silent prayer and kicked as hard as I could!”

“I’ve been targeting this race all year and I hope I’ve done enough to be selected. I’m so relieved, because I did everything I possibly could to achieve this win.”

Norris, who clocked 25:06 for second, was gracious in defeat and praised Goodman for his speed. “I thought I had him coming into the last hill but it went down to the wire and it was definitely exciting. You have to remember that he (Goodman) is an exceptional track runner, so I knew he had it in him.”

Hawkins finished third in 25:26.

1 Goodman 25:04; 2 Norris 25:06; 3 Hawkins 25:26; 4 Hay 25:29; 5 Sparke 25:29; 6 Andrew Combs 25:53

With reference to selection, UKA is committed to selecting and taking athletes to the World Cross, but has not committed to taking full teams.  There is no automatic selection, although the first three athletes past the post in each of the trial races will be selected providing they have met two of the five guideline criteria listed. If the selectors feel that a team can challenge for a top eight position, a scoring team of at least four athletes will be selected.

The full selection policy is on the UKA website: http://www.uka.org.uk/world-class/winter-selection-policy-2009-10/

Selection will take place on Tuesday 16th March with the team to be announced on Wednesday 17th March.

In the non-trial races, Kate Holt (City of Stoke) outsprinted English National bronze medallist Emily Wallbank (Bedford & County) for the under-17 women’s title (5k), while Ross Matheson (Lasswade AAC), having opted out of the under-20 Trial, made it four wins from four in the under-17 age group (6k) with a ten second victory from Ian Bailey (AFD) in the men’s event, also securing the overall McCain UK Cross Challenge title.

James McMurray (St Albans AC) and Jessica Judd (Chelmsford) were the respective winners in the under-15 boys’ and girls’ events (4.5k and 4k), while in the under-13 category, Katie Rowe (Guernsey) and Tom Holden (South London) were crowned UK Inter Counties champions (3k).