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UK Athletics

mud is good for laura muir

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Laura Muir
25 November 2015

Laura Muir (coach: Andy Young) has enjoyed a breakthrough year, finishing 5th in the 1500m final at the IAAF World Championships and going to second on the UK all-time list over 1500m. Now her attention switches to muddier surroundings at the Liverpool Cross Challenge on Saturday 28th November which incorporates the trials for the European cross country championships.

The Scottish athlete took time away from her veterinary studies in Glasgow to speak ahead of her return to Sefton Park, two years since her last appearance. A lot has happened since then and she goes into the cross country season in a confident mood after a whirlwind 2015.

Muir commented: “The main thing for me this year was to perform well at the world championships and I feel like I have done that. I’m really pleased that I got a personal best over all three disciplines (800m, 1500m and 3000m) this year but then to ultimately perform well at major championships as well.”

The 22 year-old lowered her 1500m lifetime best to 3:58.66 in Monaco this year, her first time under four minutes, to go behind Kelly Holmes in the all-time rankings. However, her standout moment of the year was from another 1500m race in Norway.

“It’s a difficult one but I would say Oslo Diamond League. Nothing beats winning a race but it was also the first time I was globally recognised for my athletics. Running sub-four for the first time (in Monaco) and winning top level races like that was something I needed as a confidence boost. That was amazing and to come fifth in the world championships final was a proud moment.”

However, she will face something quite different from the arenas of the Birds Nest and the Bislett Stadion as she takes on the finest cross country talent in the UK at the British Athletics Cross Challenge in Liverpool. It is the second event in the five stage series and has attracted a record number of entrants with Muir just one of those seeking success.

Speaking ahead of her return to Merseyside, she said: “I’m excited because I haven’t run there for a couple of years but I’m looking forward to heading back, even though it will be a long journey for me!

“I’ve run two cross country races so far this season but both were 4km so I’ll have to pace myself a bit over 8km. It’ll be tough but I’m really looking forward to it.”

Some may remember Muir qualified for the 2011 Euro cross after a sixth place finish in the junior women’s race in Liverpool, so she has good memories of racing on the Sefton Park course.

“The course is dependent on the weather. The very first time I ran in Liverpool was 2011 and there was a hard frost on the ground. I ran really well on it and earned my debut selection for GB, so I’ve got fond memories of the trials.

“We’ll see what it is like this weekend; if it rains a lot I’m sure it will be really muddy. It’s a tough and testing course but I think it brings out the best in the toughest runners out there.

Muir, an U23 racing within the combined senior/U23 women’s race this weekend, will face a tough field including European cross country champions Gemma Steel (John Nuttall) (2014 senior champion) and Emelia Gorecka (Mick Woods) (U23 - former double Euro junior champion) so she will have to be at her best to qualify for the Hyères race in December.

“It’s good because I’m racing against a lot of girls I wouldn’t usually go up against during the summer, so a lot of the 5000m and 10,000m girls. It will be nice to have a fresh field of athletes to race against. I can compare myself and test my endurance against them.”

Obviously, 2016 is Olympic year and all athletes will have their eyes on Rio and the Scot sees the Liverpool race and qualifying for the championships in France as an important stepping stone in her journey to Brazil.

“We always do grass or hill sessions on a Saturday anyway, and I try to fit cross country races in so it is just another day at work for me. It is nice to be in a competitive atmosphere, I think it would be a long winter if you didn’t do any racing at all. It’s nice to get the adrenalin going and I do enjoy it.”

“I’ve done cross country since I was little so it has always been a base for me. I can incorporate it into my winter training ahead of the indoor and outdoor season. It makes the outdoor season a lot easier when you try to get into that competitive mind-set beforehand.”

So, what are her expectations from this winter’s cross country season?

“I know I’m in the best shape I’ve ever been in so I would be really disappointed if I didn’t qualify for the Euro Cross. I’m really confident about making the team and performing well.

“I would definitely be aiming for a medal.”

Entry lists and further information for the Liverpool Cross Challenge can be found via the link:  http://www.britishathletics.org.uk/competitions/the-british-athletics-cross-challenge/