It was a table-topping performance for the British team at the Great Edinburgh XCountry claiming three individual victories on a day which saw Mo Farah (coach: Alberto Salazar) return to Cross Country action with a second place finish.
Farah, who was returning to the scene of his last race on the cross country circuit five years ago, was unable to follow up his 2011 performance finishing two seconds behind USA’s Garrett Heath. In the last race of the day, conditions proved difficult underfoot with Farah and a number of other athletes suffering near misses as they struggled around the muddy bends.
Afterwards Farah said: “It was tough, but that’s cross country, it’s what you get. Garrett (Heath) was the better man on the course today and he showed that. He proved that – he was bouncing off the ground quicker.
“There were a couple of times I nearly went and you could see with the corners that when you’re comfortable you can run off it, but I just wasn’t that comfortable.
“I don’t want to lose a race, I hate losing but it’s better to lose now than in August. Garrett’s shown year after year winning on this course and he was the better athlete over the course.”
Following close behind Farah was Callum Hawkins (Robert Hawkins), Ross Millington (Steve Vernon), Dewi Griffiths (Kevin Evans) and Andrew Butchart (Derek Easton), who occupied place four to seven.
After winning her second successive silver at the European Cross Country Championships, Kate Avery (Tony Simmons) blew away the field in the senior women’s race as she sets her sights on qualification for this summer’s Olympic Games. Avery’s teammate Gemma Steel (John Nuttall) and Charlotte Arter (James Thie) came through in third place and fifth place respectively to give the team valuable points in the standings.
Avery said: “I didn’t really know what to expect because I prefer the firmer conditions. I’m over the moon with the win and especially how I did it being able to run away from the girls.
“It’s not so much the muddy conditions that I found difficult, but the little inclines and streams. I wanted to be hitting them first rather than trying to follow other girls even if I was in a group I tried to move to the side to see where my feet were going.”
Alex Yee (Kenneth Pike) got the proceedings underway at Holyrood Park with a clinical victory in the junior men’s race overturning a four second gap in the final two laps from Europe’s Kevin Mulcaire to claim an impressive win.
Yee said: “It’s the first time I’ve ever broken the tape at a race so it’s a nice feeling and great to do it at such a prestigious event.
“I knew I had to work (on the last lap). I’ve raced Kevin before and I knew he was such a high calibre athlete, but I was confident that if I worked hard, I could claw it back.”
After finishing fifth in the junior race at the European Cross Country Championships in December, Bobby Clay (Rob Denmark) was pleased to that her personal disappointment behind her in Holyrood Park. After winning the 2014 edition of the race, Clay was back to winning ways with a commanding performance, which saw her take the race out from the front. Finishing behind the 18 year old was Harriett Knowles-Jones (Paul Roden), who matched her second place finish from Hyeres in what has been a strong start to her winter season.
“I feel I’ve redeemed myself after the European Cross now. I was really disappointed so I was really hungry for this one. I’m pleased with the way I executed it and it’s so nice that all the GB girls were packed in at the front,” said Clay.
“It’s definitely taught me not to be complacent even though I felt I was in really good shape at the Euros. That hit me quite hard because I’ve been working so hard for it, but I knew I just had to use my head and go for it.”
In the 4x1km team relay, a superb final leg from Charlene Thomas (Aaron Thomas) saw the British team of Charlie Grice (Jon Bigg), Kate Holt (Alan Morris) and Michael Rimmer (Bigg) move from fourth to second on the final lap.
For a full list of results and team standings, please visit: www.greatrun.org/great-winter-run/great-edinburgh-xcountry