Earlier in the winter I didn’t really want to focus on the Euro Cross having had a bad summer I was looking for ways to adjust my training and racing plans so that next summer didn’t go badly. However after a decent Great South Run John decided he wanted me doing Liverpool but not compromising training too much and using Liverpool as a good hard race as its a very good indicator as nobody seems to miss it.

I planned to back off on Thursday and Friday for it however I got a little ill on Sunday night so ended up taking Monday off anyway. This freshened me up for the week and I got a good session in Tuesday night on the track hitting under 4:30 for mile reps. That gave me confidence that my cold was in my nose and my chest was ok.

I expected the race to be very muddy and this time made sure I had my 15mm spikes unlike Mansfield a few weeks back when I was slipping everywhere. I got there with Lewis and we were shocked to see the ground in such good condition and no surface water. Great news for the track runners!

I was told that under no circumstances do I go running at the front like I did at the World XC trial back in March. I used up a lot of nervous energy wanting to break away in that race but I never actually did. John told me to sit in the pack for the first half then make sure I was there or there abouts on the final lap and if I was there in the final 400m or so I should make the team. Last year I tailed off in the last mile a little as I wasn’t strong enough. This year was a different story, I’ve really been working on getting stronger with my training so I was confident I’d get the distance.
The race went as planned for me really. Nobody took it out stupidly fast and but this meant it was a bit congested on the first lap and poor Wilko got tripped accidentally. He was soon up and running again though with no harm done. The field slowly got strung out and a large group of around 15 began to move away on the 2nd lap. I was sitting nicely in the middle of it keeping an eye on things feeling nice and relaxed.

As the 3rd and final lap began the pace really got pushed on down the hill and it got stretched out. Over on the back field the group got smaller and 6 of us started to get away. I was in 3rd/4th making sure I could cover anything that was laid down.

With about 1k to go i glanced round and everyone was there queing up ready to go. It was Draper who really pushed hard and made a break for it. I felt fine covering the move and in control but then we went through the woods and it seemed to zap my legs slightly, also trying to dodge the lapped runners caused abit of problems for me. The zapped legs was probably the lactic which pooled in after a hard surge going after Draper. I found he got a gap of 5m coming out the woods as we entered the long downhill before the final u-turn. That 5m gap stayed the same all the way to the u-turn as I was flat out trying to catch him. It’s pretty annoying when you’re both going the same speed flat out though!

Vernon came down my outside powering after Draper. On the final 200m sprint Andy got away to win it from Draper followed by myself. I just remember pumping my arms imagining I was in the gym doing my arm drives over them final few strides as I knew I was in the sights of the other guys behind me.

I held on well for 3rd spot and automatic qualification for the European Champs in Slovenia next weekend. 4th was Baddeley followed by the workhorse Walshy and 6th was Frank Tickner. The team is announced tomorrow so I’m looking forward to seeing our 6 lads as I think we could realistically challenge for the medal. We could have any 6 of our top 12 domestic lads at a Euro Champs and I think they’d still be a medal threat. GB are really improving right now which is great to see. Hopefully the track times can carry on coming down for all as that is what is motivating everyone right now.

Photo by Adrian Royale.

Some lads missed out on the top 6 who just didn’t quite have it on the day, horses for course is what I say and had it been muddy at Liverpool it may have been a different story, who knows. I’m sure the likes of S Vernon, Wicks, Whitby and Gerrard will keep everyone on their toes as they’ll go away, train harder and keep pushing everyone and driving the standard of distance running up

Also great to see Mellor running well on the XC, I know he’s not a fan of the soft ground but it’s about time he stopped being a wimp (that includes wearing gloves when it’s over 10degrees!) and began getting some results to match his road and track performances.

I’ll update with a blog about training in the next couple days.


Liverpool race video: http://www.athleticos.org/video/520706-Liverpool-Euro-Trials-2011-Senior-Men

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