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medal joy for british team at iau 50k world championships

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Rebecca Hilland

Friday’s (Nov 11) IAU 50k World Championships in Doha saw both the British men’s and women’s teams secure podium places on what was a resounding success of an evening.

For the men’s team, commendable finishes of 5th, 6th and 7th from the trio of counters –  Andrew Davies (coach: Steve Vernon), Michael Kallenberg (James Thie) and Ross Houston, secured silver for the team on what was a challenging evening in the Qatari capital.

Andrew Davies (coach: Steve Vernon) put together a race full of bold running to be the first Brit home as he clocked 2:58:25 for fifth on his debut over 50k. Speaking post-race he said: "My race plan went really well and I was relying on people coming back to me. Although most did, some of the US and runners were just too strong.

“I had a worry early in the race with a sore right achilles, but luckily this didn't develop into anything and I found the course and temperature to be not a problem."

The race saw the US fill the first two men's spots with Anthony Migliozzi a clear winner as he clocked 2:54:02 from team-mate Tyler Andrews (2:56:04) and Zimbabwean third place finisher Colleen Makaza (2:56:58).

Behind Davies was Michael Kallenberg in 6th, a placing finish which improved both his position and time from last year’s 50k championships. Following an assured performance, the 25-year-old commented: "That was really tough tonight but I'm happy with my run and delighted that we are coming home with a silver medal."

With excellent team packing, Ross Houston completed the podium trio in 7th place with a controlled race which saw him in 20th place in the early stages, before moving steadily through the field before unleashing a fast last lap. He said "We were all aware that the team event was done on accumulated time and not position and therefore I could not ease off at any point. My aim was to keep progressing through the field and I'm really pleased with my performance."

Stuart Robinson (Helen Clitheroe), although not a team counter, battled on courageously to finish 12th in 3:13:42 in spite of his quads tightening which compromised his running gait in the later stages.

The women's race turned out to be an exciting affair with the final result in doubt until the later stages. When the final accumulated times were given later in the evening it turned out that the British winning margin was bigger than first though, due in part to the strong performances and determination to come home strongly showed by the each member of the British team.

Amy Clements (Peter Boxshall) ran a stellar race throughout and was up in second with a lap remaining. Only a slight tire over the final 2.5km saw her slip into the bronze position, a placing she held on to boldly to clock 3:26:17 on her first attempt at 50k.

Speaking afterwards the Kent AC athlete said "The race was relentless physically and mentally to be honest, I felt good and think I paced it pretty well.  My expectations coming into the race were slightly unclear, but this has given me great confidence for future races and I'm really happy to get on the podium."

Next home for GB & NI was Rebecca Hilland (Jan Fjaerestad) in fifth, with the 36-year-old showing great tenacity to fight on superbly whilst staving off dizziness, eventually crossing the line in 3:34:08.

She reflected on the race in honest fashion, saying: "That was an awful experience, at 17k my stomach started giving me problems and whether that was my drink strategy, I'm not sure. I actually felt comfortable early on and it seemed fairly slow. However, to finish 5th was pleasing considering how I felt."

Samantha Amend (Roger Hughes), who completed the team scoring in 7th place (3:35:36), gave her all in the knowledge that every second counted to secure a team medal. She, like many others, was another that struggled over the final few laps with injury niggles, but fought on to ensure the team medal was of the highest quality.

Although out of the team scoring, Saltaire Striders athlete Hannah Oldroyd (3:35:57) ran conservatively for most of the race but finished more strongly than anyone to shave close to 40 seconds off her previous best, recorded at Perth's 'Self Transcendence' 50k back in March.