22nd March 2019


Patrick Dever (coach: Andy Bibby; club: Preston) is relishing the opportunity to continue his excellent cross country form at next Saturday’s IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Aarhus, Denmark.

The Loughborough-based athlete is having arguably one of the best winters of his career, having claimed a U23 team silver and individual fifth place at the European Cross Country Championships in Tilburg in December, and adding a ninth-place finish at the Great Stirling XCountry in January.

Added into that, a huge indoor 3000m personal best and a fourth place finish at the Inter Counties earlier this month, Dever feels he is in the best shape possible heading out to Denmark.

Assessing his winter form, he said: “The cross country season has gone a lot better than I expected it would have done, with missing all of last summer I wasn’t expecting to get back to the level I was at the year before so quickly. I’ve pretty much surpassed that in doing so and this season has already exceeded my expectations.

“I was really happy to be able to compete against some of the best guys indoors whilst maintaining my focus on cross country, so my training didn’t really change for the indoors and I ran a big PB and was competitive in what was one of the strongest fields I’ve raced in, with the likes of Chris O’Hare and Andrew Butchart.

“BUCS was another great race. I was pretty gutted to just miss out there on the home straight to Emile Cairess but it was a great battle right to the line. The season for me has gone great so far and hopefully I’ll be able to continue that in Aarhus.”

The Preston Harrier’s first thoughts of being able to make the team for the world cross country championships were ignited when he was the first Brit home at the Great Stirling XCountry in January.

A solid run from Dever saw him home in ninth place, an improvement on his 19th place finish in Edinburgh the previous year and his consistent form has been the foundation of his excellent cross country season.

He hopes that having already shown he can be in amongst the top cross country runners once, he can do so once again when he steps onto the grass in Aarhus.

“Stirling was the one that made me think that world cross was a realistic opportunity for me at that point in time,” he assessed. “Having a look at the start lists for world cross and the teams selected, I’ve seen some of the Americans who competed in Stirling are in the team.

“I thoroughly expect these guys to be competitive out there, but what fills me with confidence is that I’ve already shown that I can be competitive in Stirling, so there’s no reason why I can’t be competitive with them once again.

“I completely expect it to be my toughest competition to date but you always have to test yourself against the best so that you can gauge an idea of what you’ll be up against and what you’re aspiring to be. It will also continue to give me an idea of how far you have to go to get to the top.

“Stirling this year and Edinburgh last year have given me a good taste of what to expect at this level and they have given me some good experience to build on going forward,” he added.

Dever has grown up watching the championships on television but now, the 22-year-old is preparing himself to be one of the stars on the screen as he toes the start line in Denmark.

He will form part of the six-man senior men’s team that will be in action, all of whom are making their world cross debuts. Being a part of the squad still has not sunk in but he hopes to be able to use that adrenaline to push him on to a strong finish.

“It’s mad to think that I’m in the team. I remember back in high school and college watching world cross on TV and thinking how insane it would be to be a part of that. Now that I’ve actually qualified for world cross, it’s pretty incredible.

“I haven’t really got my head around it all yet, just saying ‘I’m going to the World Cross Country Championships’ seems pretty crazy.

“When I’m working with George Gandy at Loughborough, he always tells us about the history of the event and there’s so much heritage embedded in it. You look at some of the British athletes that have gone there in the past and what they’ve gone on to achieve internationally and it gives me so much more inspiration.

“I know Mo Farah went to world cross and wasn’t too high up in his first championships but he has gone on to achieve so much on the track and now on the roads and it spurs you on even more.”

Having examined the course online, Dever feels the hills and technical nature of the course will be something that plays into his hands and allows him to replicate his Euro Cross performance on a tight course in the Netherlands.

Dever assessed: “I’ve had a look at the course and the obstacles that they’re putting in there and it really looks like an interesting course and one that will be technically demanding and I’m excited for that challenge as well.

“I think Tilburg was a particularly technical course and I found that I was able to perform to a high level there. I’d say hills are one of my strengths on that terrain and I’m glad there are a few in there to try and work around and hopefully I can capitalise on them.

“Just to get the opportunity to run at a world cross is special because finally I can have my chance to represent my country at the championships, it’s been a long wait but I’m excited to get going.”