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Kate Avery
Avery - top 25 finish in her Aviva GB and NI debut


01 April 2009

One of the bright spots from Saturday’s IAAF World Cross Country Championships came from the performance of the GB & NI junior women’s team, who narrowly missed bronze by six points to Japan.

The 13th and 14th place finishes by European junior medallists Lauren Howarth (Leigh Harriers) and Charlotte Purdue (Aldershot, Farnham & District) may not have been totally unexpected, but few would have expected Kate Avery (Shildon Running) to have finished 25th.

The 17 year old was making her GB & NI debut and her performance says much about the depth of female endurance running in the junior ranks. “I wanted to finish in the top 40 and just use the whole thing as an experience.” She said. “So I was really pleased with the result. It’s nice to be in the world’s top 25.”

Avery’s talent for running was almost discovered accidentally. She has no family background in the sport, but at schools competitions she found herself with a natural aptitude, an ability she carried through to regional and area events. 

Her success did not go unnoticed by the local club, Shildon Running, who got in touch with Kate’s parents and invited her to training sessions. Her improvement accelerated and within a year she was winning medals at English Schools track and cross country championships.

Such was her progress that she smashed numerous club records and her coach at the North-East club candidly confessed they “didn’t know what to do” with the prodigious youngster. A twist of fate then played its part, when last summer she attended the London Marathon Young Athletes Camp at St Mary’s College, Twickenham as one of the nation’s promising distance prospects.

It was there were she came in to contact with experienced Midlands-based coach Bob Ashwood, who now guides the youngster from afar. “He speaks to me regularly on the phone or by email and sets me my training plan.  I do a lot of my running in Durham, there are some canal paths and trails there. It’s perfect really.” She says.

Currently studying a BTEC in Sport, she hopes she might continue in the subject at degree level next year, with Birmingham University  - and it’s strong endurance running culture – a possible destination. But for now she is focussing on the summer ahead.

She said: “I plan to run the 1500s and then really go for the 3000m at the big events like the English Schools, English Champs and the like. I really want to improve my PBs.” Going off last weekend, those marks of 4:29.60 and 9:44.38 look very vulnerable indeed as another talented teenager joins the highly competitive ranks of female endurance running in the UK.