Great Britain’s Andy Vernon believes 2014 can hold great things for him if he stays fit after starting the year with a sixth-place finish at the Antrim IAAF International Cross Country event.
Vernon was the first Brit to cross the line in the senior men’s 10’000m on Saturday in a time of 29 minutes 34 seconds, finishing behind the likes of winner and World Cross Country champion Japhet Korir of Kenya, defending champion Thomas Ayeko and Emmanuel Bett.
The 27-year-old had a good finish to 2013 as he claimed a bronze medal at the European Cross Country Championships in Belgrade and is targeting a similarly impressive result in the near future.
“It started off pretty quickly and then it settled down but it was still quite a fast pace for the first part of the race going through the mud at the bottom of the course,” he said.
“A hill slowed the race down and I thought there was no point in slowing the race down so cracked on and led through the end of the first lap.
“The Africans pushed on and gradually ran away from me when they upped the pace. I was closing one down at the end but I couldn’t quite get him.
“I’ve been in good shape and every race I’ve done through the winter has been a decent race so I hope it continues.”
In the women’s 5,600m event it was Charlotte Purdue who was the first British athlete to cross the finish line ahead of her teammate Gemma Steel, who won silver in the senior women’s race in Belgrade.
And Purdue admitted the race was a perfect way to back up her European under-23 bronze medal from last month with another strong finish.
“It was a really fast race; it was only 5.6km and for me that’s quite short. I just sat in and then on the last lap just went with the group,” she said.
“I got a bit detached and it was really hard to get past people but I gave it my best shot so I’m happy.
“I definitely think the longer courses suit me but I’m pleased with the way I ran today. I haven’t tapered for this and I’ve done a massive block of winter training at Aldershot which was really good and hopefully will help me next weekend in Edinburgh.”
© Sportsbeat 2014