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UK Athletics

Norwich Union GB ready for World Cross

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Mo Farah - European cross country champion flying the flag for Norwich Union GB

The good news is that all of the Norwich Union Great Britain and Northern Ireland team is fit, healthy and ready for the IAAF World Cross Country Championships in the hot and humid Kenyan city of Mombasa on Saturday 24 March.


The even better news, after all of the stories about possible dangers, is that security is tight and police are escorting the athletes every time they leave their excellent hotel.


The intriguing news is that when the course was opened for official inspection by athletes and team officials on Friday morning, it was still being built! Many observers were surprised how much work still had to be done, though local organisers remained confident everything would be ready for the historic occasion.


The indications are that it will be a severe test. After a starting straight of barely 200 metres, a tight turn onto the main 2km loop is expected to cause problems for athletes who have not made a blistering start – something that would be suicidal in the weather conditions. The loop itself is packed with twists and turns that will make it hard for athletes to maintain any kind of rhythm.


And then there is the weather. The temperature was above 30° Celsius when the athletes inspected the course. The humidity was oppressive even though there was a breeze blowing from the ocean. Just walking around the course had officials sweating. Athletes who jogged the course found it so dry that several members of the GB team – by far the biggest from Europe – are considering wearing racing flats rather than spikes.


The athletes representing Norwich Union GB, which topped the medals table at this winter’s European Cross Country Championships, are:


Men: Alan Buckley (Gateshead Harriers), Mo Farah (Newham and Essex Beagles), Phil Nicholls (Tipton Harriers), Ben Noad (Highgate Harriers), Michael Skinner (Blackheath Harriers Harriers and Bromley AC), Steve Vernon (Stockport Harriers), Jason Ward (Altrincham AC) and Phil Wicks (Belgrave Harriers).


Women: Elle Baker (South London Harriers), Hatti Dean (Hallamshire Harriers Sheffield), Felicity Milton (Durham University), Kate Reed (Bristol and West AC) and Hayley Yelling (Windsor, Slough, Eton and Hounslow AC).


Junior Men: Lee Carey (Nuneaton Harriers), David Forrester (St Helens Sutton AC), Adam Hickey (Southend on Sea AC), Ben Lindsay (Pendle AC), Andrew Livingstone (Thurrock Harriers) and Conor McNulty (Kilbarchan AAC).


Junior Women: Jess Coulson (Stockport Harriers), Sian Edwards (Kettering Town Harriers), Olivia Kenney (Royal Sutton Coldfield AC), Emily Pidgeon (Gloucester AC), Charlotte Purdue (Aldershot, Farnham and District AC) and Stevie Stockton (Vale Royal AC).