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Farah wins with ease in Edinburgh

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Mo Farah

06 January 2010

Mo Farah made light work of the snowy underfoot conditions to win the International Team Challenge 8K with ease at the BUPA Great Edinburgh Cross Country at Holyrood Park, Edinburgh (Saturday 8 January).

Farah led home the Aviva Great Britain and Northern Ireland team to a third place finish, in this inaugural International Team Challenge race, behind Europe and USA in first and second respectively, with the Aviva GB & NI U23/20 team fourth.

His winning time of 25:41 was nine seconds faster than American Galen Rupp who took second, with Ayad Lamdassam of Spain/Europe in third (25:55) and nine-time European Cross Country Champion Sergiy Lebid of Ukraine/Europe fourth (26:00).

After starting sensibly at the back of the leading group, Farah reacted brilliantly to a mid-race surge by Rupp on the course’s steep climb to take the lead for the first time.

Double European champion on the track in 2010, Farah recently returned to sea level to compete following a stint of altitude training at the UKA/London Marathon endurance camp in Iten, Kenya, and was delighted with his performance.

He said: “I was happy to win. It started off kind of slow and my aim was just to try to stay with the group for the first couple of laps and then wind it up.

“I’m really confident after the way training has gone over the last six weeks and from my New Year’s Eve race I knew I wasn’t in bad shape.

“The trip to Kenya helped a lot. It’s just eat, sleep and train out there and the weather is a lot better than back at home.”

Behind Farah, Andy Vernon (coach: Nick Anderson) made a great return to form after withdrawing from the European Cross in December with stomach cramps. He finished an impressive fifth in 26:14 – just 14 seconds behind nine-time European Cross Country champion Sergiy Lebid, who was representing Europe.

Ryan McLeod (coach: John Nuttall) has gone from strength to strength, aided by his training in Kenya late in 2010, and showed this with a fantastic run for 11th place in 26:29 while Tom Humphries (coach: Phil Clamp) backed up his 15th in the European Cross, finishing 16th in 26:40 – just ahead of Aviva GB & NI team mate Frank Tickner (coach: Clive Thomas) who was 17th with 26:42.

John Beattie (coach: John Nuttall), also back from the UKA/London Marathon altitude training camp in Kenya, finished 19th in 26:43 as Aviva GB & NI packed strongly.

Behind Beattie, the remaining Aviva GB & NI senior men’s finishing positions were: Scott Overall (coach: Robert Chapman) in 20th (26:44); Lee Merrien (coach: John Nuttall) in 25th (27:04); and Phil Nicholls (coach: Bud Baldaro) in 26th (27:05).

Derek Hawkins (coach: Lawrie Spence), wearing the Aviva GB & NI vest for the second time following his debut at the European Cross in Portugal, was the first Aviva GB & NI U23/U20 athlete to cross the finish line, in 22nd with 26:49 – just ahead of team mate Ross Murray (coach: Craig Winrow) who finished 23rd in 26:51.

Hawkins said: “I was happy to be the first under 23 and I wanted to make amends for Portugal where I wasn’t as strong as I hoped.

“It started off quite steadily but I thought I should stay a few yards back and work my way through which I think I did reasonably well.”

“My aim now is the Scottish Cross Country Championships and the McCain Cross Challenge Final where I’d like to improve on my 18th last year.”

The remaining Aviva GB & NI finishing positions behind Murray were: Richard Goodman (coach: Geoff Williams) in 27th (27:05); Ashley Harrell (coach: Tim/Pauline Ash) in 29th (27:25); Mitch Goose (coach: Tim/Pauline Ash) in 30th (27:34); Andy Combs (coach: Mark Hookway/Mick Woods) in 32nd (27:46); John McDonnell (coach: John Stoker)  in 35th in 28:09; Ben Connor (coach: Jerry Hall) in 41st (28:28); and Robbie Farnham-Rose (coach: Mark Hookway) in 44th (28:53).

In the Men’s International 4K, short race specialist Steve Vernon (coach: Dave Turnbull) took some major scalps, finishing fourth in 13:19, in a race won by World 5000m silver medallist Eliud Kipchoge of Kenya.

Vernon and Tom Lancashire (coach: Norman Poole) – Britain’s fastest 1500m runner last year – managed to hold on to the leading Kenyans and defeat the likes of Olympic 1500m bronze medallist Rui Silva and European 1500m champion Arturo Casado.

“My target was to take as many scalps as I could and in the back of my mind first Brit was always the goal. To compete with the Africans was pleasing – it was a good run.”

Recently crowned European Junior Cross Country champion Charlotte Purdue (coach: Mick Woods) had arguably the race of her career as she finished fourth in the Women’s International 6K – her first international cross country race as a senior.

Purdue’s steady start to the race paid off as she came through strongly in the closing stages to finish one place ahead of Hatti Dean (coach: Bud Baldaro) who was fifth – in a race which was won by World 10,000m champion Linet Masai of Kenya.

“I was a junior last year and all the races I had were 4K but I prefer the longer distances so the 6K suited me well today.

“It was quite cold here today so I needed to warm up a bit. I held back a bit at the start and then worked my way through which was good. It gives me great confidence, especially as it’s my first senior cross country race.”

Ian Stewart, Aviva GB & NI Team Leader and UKA’s Head of Endurance, said: “As a new concept, the International Team Challenge was a great success, especially from a developmental point of view. Brendan Foster and Nova International did a great job organizing it together with UKA.”

For full results, please click HERE.