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UK Athletics

Norwich Union GB at European 10,000m – report

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Jo Pavey
Jo Pavey: 10,000m debut in heat.

The Norwich Union Great Britain and Northern Ireland team of four had torrid experiences in unseasonably hot weather at the 11th annual European 10,000m Challenge in Ferrara, Italy, on Saturday 7 April.


Jo Pavey (Exeter Harriers), over the flu that devastated her medal hopes at last month’s European Indoor Championships and forced her withdrawal from the team for the IAAF World Cross Country Championships, suffered “one of those days” but battled to the bitter end of her debut at the distance, clocking 32 minutes 21.19 seconds for fourth place. It left her well short of the qualifying time of 31:40.00 for this year’s IAAF World Championships in Osaka, Japan and she said: “I felt so heavy all the way. I’m not ill. It was just a bad day. I’m obviously disappointed. It wasn’t because it was 10k: I feel that whatever distance I had been running, it would have been the same.”


Hayley Yelling (Windsor, Slough, Eton and Hounslow AC), who finished just ahead of Pavey at this winter’s European Cross Country Championships and was an outstanding 16th at the World Cross Country Championships in the hostile temperature of Mombasa, Kenya, defied a cold that had troubled her since Monday and took a late decision to toe the start line. But she dropped out at halfway when it became obvious that she would not be able to get close to the Osaka qualifying time.


Kate Reed (Bristol and West AC) similarly stepped off the track a couple of laps later when it was apparent that she would not beat her target, the standard of 32:20 required for July's World University Games in Bangkok, Thailand. She had gone through 5000m in 16:19.


Mike Skinner (Blackheath Harriers and Bromley AC), who benefited from the Durban training camp to such an extent that he was Norwich Union GB’s second scorer in the men’s 12km race in Mombasa, also felt the Italian heat in the men’s race. He was on 29-minute pace until halfway but crossed the line in 30:06.41 for 17th place on his 10,000m debut. It takes him to second in the 2007 Power of 10 standings, which are headed by Andrew Lemoncello (Fife AC), who ran 28:28.04 at Stanford in California on 31 March. The IAAF ‘A’ standard for Osaka is 27:49.00.


UK Athletics Senior Performance Manager for Endurance Alan Storey, the Norwich Union GB Team Leader in Ferrara, said: “Only one athlete in the two races, Elvan Abeylegesse, achieved a Worlds qualifying time. Collectively they were the worst set of results ever at a European 10k Challenge. It was just too hot. Maybe if the races had been in the cool of the evening, the results would have been better.”


Ethiopia-born Abeylegesse, the former world 5000m record holder who now runs for Turkey, won the women’s race in 31:25.15. The men’s race went to


The UK 10,000m Championships, incorporating the World Trials, will be staged on the evening of June 30 at Watford as part of the UK Athletics Endurance Initiative series during the BMC Nike Grand Prix meeting.


For the record, the medallists and GB times in Ferrara were:


Men: 1 A Pollmaecher (Germany) 28:17.17; 2 G Weidlinger (Austria) 28:19.11; 3 C Castillejo (Spain) 28:32.70; … 17 M Skinner 30:06.41.


Women: 1 E Abeylegesse (Turkey) 31:25.15; 2 T Holovchenko (Ukraine) 31:59.98; 3 N De Vos (Belgium) 32:07.62; 4 J Pavey 32:21.19.