9th January 2015


09 January 2015 

European Cross Country champion Gemma Steel (coach: John Nuttall) has set her sights on making it back-to-back wins at the Great Edinburgh XCountry when she lines up for GB & NI at Holyrood Park tomorrow.

Steel was a convincing winner last year finishing ahead of Fionnuala Britton and is expecting another tussle with the Irish athlete, who lines up for the European team tomorrow.

The Charnwood AC athlete said: “I’m gunning for that title because I love to win. Fionnuala (Britton) is a big rival of mine, so we will be rekindling that and it could be a one-on-one race tomorrow without (Sophie) Duarte running. She could be my main challenge but also Emelia Gorecka, who gave me a good race last year stepping into the senior ranks.”

The 29 year old has enjoyed a successful start to the year and admits that her form at the tail end of the year has gone someway to making up for a few disappointments in 2014. 

“It started on the right foot winning this race last year and then it went a little bit downhill. I managed to salvage the back end of the year going out to America and smashing my 10k PB out there. The Great North Run was another great milestone for me running the third fastest (British half marathon runner) of all time, so I’m just ticking them off one by one at the moment. Winning the Europeans made up for all the things I’d learnt along the way.

“It was a big learning curve for me this year that despite my successes I’ve learnt from my mistakes and tactical errors. I’ve looked at the bigger picture and come out a stronger, wiser athlete.”

While Steel is hoping for a repeat of her nine second victory 12 months ago, she believes that she can edge a close battle if needed after a gutsy display saw her pip teammate Kate Avery to the European crown in Bulgaria last month. 

“I don’t like to leave it that late, it’s always nice to get a bit of a lead but I know if it comes to the crunch, I’ve been there and can draw on my experiences to get me through it.”

Gorecka (Mick Woods) meanwhile is excited by the proposition of returning to compete in a GB & NI vest and while her performance in Bulgaria didn’t go quite to plan, she’s looking to produce the form that saw her finish third behind Britton and Steel a year ago.

“I think I’ve learnt in my first year as a senior that there are so many ups and downs along the way and Bulgaria was one of the days where I didn’t feel that good. The main aim was to refocus really quickly and I can’t think of a better place than here representing my country again,” said the 20 year old.  

“The step up has been a lot bigger than I thought it would be and I think that was always going to be the case. Going into the race there are so many girls to think about but I’m not focusing on one person because it’s going to be quite an open race. Also the course is churning up quite a bit, so it will be interesting how we all run on that. I’m hoping to be there with a lap to go and we’ll see from there I guess.”

Home favourite Callum Hawkins (Robert Hawkins) will draw on the support of his family and friends at Holyrood Park tomorrow and is hoping to make it into the top five after a sixth place finish last time around. 

“I’m really looking forward to tomorrow. Training is going well, I’m feeling fit and hopefully I can improve on last year’s performance and be competitive. 

“I’m disappointed (by his performance in Bulgaria) – I went there to get a medal and it didn’t quite come off. However, it’s made me more determined to do better at that level. I’ve got my family, friends coming to watch me tomorrow and I’ve been doing this race since I was 12 years old, so it’s a special place to run and it’s good to see it getting so big as well.

The Great Edinburgh XCountry is free to spectate and will be shown live on BBC One and BBC One HD from 13:00 to 14:35. It is part of a New Year festival of running for all abilities, in the iconic Holyrood Park in Edinburgh.  3,000 people will be starting the New Year on the right foot when they take on the popular Great Winter Run, held on a scenic 5k course that loops around Arthur’s Seat, before watching the world’s best test themselves in the international cross country races.

You can also follow live updates on Twitter tomorrow here


GB & NI team for the Great Edinburgh Cross Country on Saturday 10 January 2015:

Senior Men

Andrew Butchart (Derek Easton)

Luke Caldwell (Nic Bideau)

Michael Callegari (Craig Winrow)

Jonathan Davies (U23) (Rob McKim)

Will Gray (U23) (Bud Baldaro)

Callum Hawkins (Robert Hawkins)

Jonny Hay (Mick Woods)

Andrew Heyes (Keith Whitelam)

Adam Hickey (Eamonn Martin)

Charlie Hulson (U23) (Paul Roden)

Jonathan Taylor (Gordon Surtees) 

Tom Wade (Geoff Watkin)


Senior Women

Georgie Bruinvels (Mick Woods) 

Emma Clayton (Andrew Henderson)

Lauren Deadman (Bill Foster)

Alyson Dixon (self-coached)

Emelia Gorecka (Mick Woods)

Maryse Haynes (Bud Baldaro)

Katie Holt (Alan Morris)

Rebecca Murray (Alex Stanton)

Lily Partridge (Mick Woods)

Rosie Smith (Brian Mackay)

Gemma Steel (John Nuttall)


Junior Men

Euan Gillham (Robert Hawkins)

Jack Crabtree (Norman Poole) 

Oliver Fox (Richard Llewellyn Eaton)

Jonathan Glen (Mark Pollard)

James Hall (Mick Woods)

Jac Hopkins (Kevin Tobin) 


Junior Women

Grace Baker (Mick Woods)

Amy Griffiths (Mick Woods)

Harriet Knowles-Jones (Russell Tart)

Phoebe Law (Richard Holt)

Sabrina Sinha (Mark Newell/Peter Mullervy) 

Lydia Turner (Thomas Millmore)