12th January 2019


Laura Muir (coach: Andy Young; club: Dundee Hawkhill) earned herself a fifth consecutive mixed relay title and helped the British team to second place overall at the Simplyhealth Great Stirling XCountry.

The victory for the senior mixed relay team helped Great Britain & Northern Ireland cement vital points as they held of Team USA, to finish with 84 points overall. Team Europe took victory, accumulating 55 points.

Alex Bell (Andrew Henderson; Pudsey & Bramley) ate up Danielle Shanahan’s lead after she made an error midway through her lap, after Jamie Williamson (George Gandy; Springburn) had started the British team’s charge.

Phil Sesemann (Andrew Henderson; Leeds City) solidified the British advantage heading into the final lap with an excellent third leg, allowing Muir to cut the tape first in 17:36, giving her a fourth successive victory for the British team.

Muir was quick to praise her teammates for building up such a strong lead and ensuring she could be the first across the line and hailed the Stirling crowd for cheering them on.

After the race, she said: “The team did fantastically, they were unlucky at the European Championships in that they slipped and it was fantastic to see them build up such a strong lead for me, and then I thought ‘well there’s no pressure now!’

“All credit to the team, they did a fantastic job of getting me into a good position and it’s as much of a team win as it is an individual win for me.

“When I saw I was quite a bit ahead I thought I had to take it easier on the first half and make sure that I was strong on the finish and I had to judge it so I could be strong on the finish.

“I take the crowd in more than I would on a track, there’s people there from school and Glasgow and running alongside that are all shouting things. It’s nice to run and be so close to the crowd and having little kids running alongside you is really fun. It [the course] was a challenge but it was proper cross country and it was good fun.”

The junior relay team of Tom Keen (Mark Vile; Cambridge & Coleridge), Grace Brock (Cornwall AC), Jack Meijer (Barry Hearn; Marshall Milton Keynes) and Charlotte Alexander (Wayne Vinton; Herne Hill) took second in the junior relay in 18:20, placing sixth overall.

The performance of the mixed relay team secured vital points for the British team in the battle for the overall title, but it was Charlotte Arter (Chris Jones; Cardiff) leading the individual performances from the Brits.

Fresh from setting the female parkrun record last week, Arter produced an excellent run in the senior women’s race to take second place individually in 20:06 and kick proceedings off strongly.

Taking the race out from the front with Kate Avery (Shildon), she put in a measured performance over the 6km course and was the first Brit home, five seconds behind Team Europe’s Elena Burkard.

Pippa Woolven (Matt Whiting; Wycombe) and Verity Ockenden (Tony Houchin; Swansea) took fourth and fifth respectively in 20:15 and 20:16, with Emily Hosker-Thornhill (Mick Woods; Aldershot, Farnham & District) the last of the points scorers for the British team, clocking 20:19 for eighth place.

Arter felt that being able to build on her parkrun record and a strong training block beforehand put her in good stead and feels she delivered a near-perfect race.

She said: “I had a race plan to start with and stuck to it. At the Europeans I very much got to the back and I had to work my way through and I wanted to attack that course and run a brave race.

“I probably went a little bit too hard too soon but I committed and went with it but Elena caught me up and then it became a matter of hanging on as long as I could, but I’m delighted to finish second individually.

“I’ve had a really solid block of training and knew I was in good shape and just wanted to run with confidence and see where that took me today. Six kilometres is bit shorter and made sure that I made it a good, hard, honest race.”

The senior men struggled to stamp their mark on the 8km course, with Patrick Dever (Andy Bibby; Preston) the best of the British finishers in ninth position, stopping the clock in 24:05.

Hilary Bor (USA) took the win in 23:48 from Europe’s Napoleon Solomon, despite heading off in the wrong direction with just over a lap remaining. Nick Goolab (Craig Winrow; Belgrave), Kris Jones (Swansea) and Charlie Hulson (Chris Jones; Liverpool) completed the scoring in 10th, 12th and 13th position respectively.

Dever was in the mix midway through the race and feels that by producing more performances similar to his effort in Stirling, he will be able to prove his skill at the elite level.

“I figured that once I had the long laps out of the way, two short laps is nothing. I just know that what I’ve done today is a really good base to build on. Even though I was the first Brit, there were still eight other runners in front of me so there’s plenty more to be aiming for.

“It was nice to be able to mix with the likes of Bor and Korir for the first few laps, to be up in that company was a great feeling. To be challenging with them was a fantastic feeling and that race as a whole sets me up nicely for the rest of the season.”