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vernon ready to take next step

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Andy Vernon

Having been one of Britain’s best distance runners for a number of years, Andy Vernon is perhaps in the form of his life as he prepares for the next fixture in the British Athletics Cross Challenge Series in Liverpool on Saturday 23 November.

Following two years disrupted by injury, Vernon has been able to lay a block of several months’ consistent training and the 27 year old believes that this is what has led to his current purple patch.

Recent performances have included the fastest leg at the recent English Cross Country Relays and a fourth place finish in a world class time of 17:37 at a four mile road race won by Ethiopia’s Yenew Alamirew in Holland.

“The key has been having five months of uninterrupted training,” he explained. “Over the last two years I’ve had lots of interruptions due to injury so finally getting some consistent training under my belt has been the key.”

“I took a break at the end of the track season but have come back refreshed and I seem to have maintained a lot of my fitness. This is the best build-up I’ve had to Liverpool, I’ve not had any problems so touch wood nothing crops up in the next few weeks.”

Wit the Liverpool Cross Challenge acting as the trial for the GB & NI team for the European Cross Country Championships taking place in Belgrade on 8 December, Vernon is now targeting further success in Belgrade.

After successive wins at Liverpool’s Sefton Park in 2010 and 2011, the Aldershot, Farnham and District man lost out to eventual winner Jonny Taylor last year but is hopeful of regaining his crown when he returns on 23 November.

He said: “Jonny stopped my hat trick last year so it would be nice to get back to winning ways in 2013. I don’t enjoy the conditions in Liverpool, I prefer fast running where you actually feel like you’re racing; give me a 10,000m track race any day!”

Vernon believes Liverpool will act as good preparation for racing in Serbia, where he anticipates a similar course, and is looking forward to the opportunity to add a first senior medal to the medals he  won in age group races in 2005, 2007 and 2008.

“The course profiles seem very similar but I’m not sure what the underfoot conditions will be like in Belgrade. I’ve medalled as a junior and twice as an under 23 so it’s about time I stepped up at senior level. (Andrea) Lalli did it last year and he’s a year younger than me; I want to win a medal.”

A regular supporter of the British Athletics Cross Challenge series, Vernon sees the five annual races as great opportunities for cross country runners in the UK and is looking forward to testing himself further in the 2013-14 fixtures.

He added: “I don’t know why more guys don’t do the Cross Challenge Series as there is a big prize pot up for grabs, with £2,000 for the win in Birmingham. I did Antrim and Cardiff last year and will look to do Antrim again this year along with Birmingham.”

Mud, or no mud, Vernon will be in Liverpool looking to fire on all cylinders and book his place at his seventh consecutive European Cross Country Championships.

The British Athletics Cross Challenge goes to Liverpool on 23 November as GB & NI’s best cross country runners battle for a place at the European Cross Country Championships. To view the selection policy click here and for more information on the Cross Challenge series click here.