Senior Men (9.8km)

Andy Vernon has opened his individual account on the country to fabulous effect as he streaked past a surprisingly strong Mark Draper in the dying stages of the senior men’s race to convincingly defend his title in 29:19 in windy conditions, placing a good three seconds in between.

The World Student Games champion opted to sit in the leading pack to keep close hold of procedures throughout and didn’t hit the front but for roughly the last furlong where his superior track speed over the distance told. A substantial mental boost, he has got now a sterner task on his hands at the racing ground of Vilenje in less than a fortnight as he is turning to face his last year’s demons and force his way into the medals.

Highlights from Liverool on Saturday

Likewise, distance ‘drifter’ Draper, hardly a familiar figure in these quarters, cashed in on his recent altitude training spell in Kenya into runner-up (29:22) straight away and is looking for a lot more in Slovenia while hopefully earning a British vest will Mark a new beginning for him to reach his potential – maybe reverting to the barriers as shown late in summer?

Third, a mere two seconds adrift, came Ryan McLeod, the son of Olympic 10000m silver medallist Mike, to grab the last automatic slot in a solid display and returning-to-action Andy Baddeley may have done enough to earn his place following in fourth at a similar distance behind.

Apparently moving up to 5000m, the Beijing 1500m finalist employed a more reserved early pattern and showed only in the second half of the race to work his way through, edging out early leader James Walsh in an identical time (29:26) at the end.

Bristol’s winner Frank Tickner wound up sixth in 29:29, Steve Vernon was seventh some way behind in 29:38 while marathon Olympic hopeful Phil Wicks occupied an eventual ninth in 29:49 and US-based Keith Gerrard closed out the top ten in 29:52.

Results

1.Andy Vernon 29:19, 2.Mark Draper 29:22, 3.Ryan McLeod 29:24, 4.Andy Baddeley 29:26, 5.James Walsh 29:26, 6.Frank Tickner 29:29, 7.Steve Vernon 29:38, 8.Ben Whitby 29:45, 9.Phil Wicks 29:49, 10.Keith Gerrard 29:52, 11.Jonny Taylor 29:53, …, 16.Jonny Mellor 30:04, 17.Ricky Stevenson 30:05, 19.David Bishop 30:05, 28.Jon Pepper 30:18, 26.Ben Moreau 30:20, 28.Glen Watts 30:29, 38.Steve Mitchell 30:56

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U23 Men

‘American’ Mitch Goose rose a rather surprise U23 top finisher in 29:55, 12th overall, in a separate contest incorporated into the senior’s race but, rather astonishingly, it wasn’t pre-race favourite James Wilkinson he had to hold off to the title, trailing well behind in fifth (22nd overall) by a good 16 secs. But, quite likely, a one-off for the latter who ought to be shown confidence and be drafted into the age group outfit still.

Dereck Hawkins came home in second  just under 30 minutes (29:59) and steeplechaser Matthew Graham got his hands on the last automatic spot in 30:05.

Results

1.Mitch Goose 29:55 (12th overall), 2.Dereck Hawkins 29:59 (14th), 3.Matthew Graham 30:05 (18th), 4.Matthew Gillespie 30:09 (20th), 5.James Wilkinson 30:11 (22nd), 6.Ashley Harrell 30:12 (24th), 7.John McDonnell 30:33 (32nd), 8.Charlie McLean 30:39 (42nd), 9.Daniel Clorley 31:04 (44th)

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U20 Men (6.7km)

Jonny Hay emerged an impressive winner out of his much anticipated duel with Richard Goodman as his sizzling turn of pace in the final burn-up saw him fashion sheer daylight of six seconds between them at the end, clocking 20:23 to 20:29 respectively.

Both were very pleased with their displays, however, having also just returned from altitude training in Kenya. The last automatic berth was staked out by Mark Shaw who slotted nicely in the gap between the top duo and fourth-placer Kieran Clements for a convincing third in 20:37.

Results

1.Jonny Hay 20:23, 2.Richard Goodman 20:29, 3.Mark Shaw 20:37, 4.Kieran Clements 20:44, 5.Niall Fleming 20:46, 6.Jack Goodwin 20:53, …, 8.Robbie Farnham-Rose 21:00, 9.Charlie Grice 21:05

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U17 Men

1.Laurrie Probert 17:38, 2.Charlie Joslin-Allen 17:42, 3.James Lanswood 17:47, 4.Tom Bains 17:50

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Senior Women (8.1km)

A dark horse as she had been going into the Trials, steeplechaser Hattie Dean showed plenty of horsepower in her gear to upstage pre-race favourite Gemma Steel into a fairytale comeback on the country of Liverpool, having not raced since late May in Rome.

But a touch of altitude training in the land of the runners, the famous Rift Valley, went a long way against a currently flying Steel, on an unbeaten run since September, who made her intentions clear from early on to make a tough pace out of it from the front and not leave matters to a late burn-up at the hands of faster finishers.

And her tactics all but worked to plan quickly since soon only Dean was still following along, yet fairly comfortably, as the two kept moving away from the rest of the field with every stride and lap.  But when the crunch came, the Barcelona ‘chase fourth placer’s strength and track speed told to work her crucial space that stretched up to four seconds in the end for a superb victory and a big confidence boost.

Needless to say that both booked their place on the team to Vilenje a fortnight on, clocking 27:05 and 27:09 respectively, with Scott Freya Murray, racing into form after an intermittent year due to sorts of injuries, just pipping up-and-coming U23 Hannah Walker for the last automatic place as both shared the same time of 27:32. The latter must have been more than content to clinch her age group title though.

A race of fairytale returns was most fittingly suplemented a place behind with the delightful sight of Steph Twell, in her first serious competitive test since her freak ankle injury in February, who applied well and performed beyond all expectations to secure the runner-up spot and a berth in the U23 side in 27:37. Maybe the story of the day above all with her hopes receiving a massive mental boost in view of London next summer.

Charlene Thomas, also on a return after a lengthy injury lay-off, came in well behind in 14th in 28:15 and Sian Edwards, a nearly forgotten golden prospect of the recent past, trailed a long way back in 34th well over two minutes behind the top places; can she revive the promise she showed in the U20 ranks only a few seasons ago?

Results

1.Hattie Dean 27:05, 2.Gemma Steel 27:09, 3.Freya Murray 27:32, 4.Hannah Walker (U23) 27:32, 5.Steph Twell (U23) 27:37, 6.Julia Bleasdale 27:39, 7.Elle Baker 27:44, 8.Naomi Taschimovitz (U23) 27:45, 9.Emma Pallant (U23) 28:04, 10.Emily Wicks 28:05, …, 14.Charlene Thomas 28:15, 15.Justina Heslop 28:19, 16.Lauren Howarth (U23) 28:24, 17.Katrina Wooton 28:26, 19.Natalie Harvey 28:39, 20.Jessica Sparke 28:35, 31.Andrea Whitcombe (W35) 28:35, 24.Emily Pidgeon (U23) 28:43, 25.Beth Potter (U23) 28:49, 30.Kate Avery (U23) 29:10, 31.Jessica Coulson (U23) 29:21, 32.Abbey McGhee (U23) 29:24, 34.Sian Edwards 29:31, 41.Felicity Milton 29:41

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U23 Women

Behind Walker and a buoyant Twell, new face in the swim Naomi Taschimovitz ensured of a British vest taking third in 27:45 and Emma Pallant followed in fourth in 28:04 to effectively qualify herself.

On the other hand, Lauren Howarth must have been disappointed with just a 16th finish in 28:24 while Emily Pidgeon ranged further adrift in 24th in 28:43 and Kate Avery ended up well down the order in 30th in 29:10, both still looking to find their way.

Most surprisingly, new Mick Woods-asset Jess Coulson trailed way behind in 31st only a couple of months on setting a UK age best over 10 miles, some niggle possibly creeping in in the interim.

1.Hannah Walker 27:32, 2.Steph Twell 27:37, 3.Naomi Taschimovitz 27:45, 4.Emma Pallant 28:04, 5.Lily Partridge 28:09, 6.Lauren Howarth 28:24

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U20 Women (4.4km)

The eagerly anticipated three-way clash in the affair, incorporating the U17 group, remained on paper as Emelia Gorecka turned up with ideas of her own to demolish the field with aplomb in the most impressive performance of the day.

The race stood as a contest only round the first lap until the European U20 5000m silver medallist, another one of Mick Woods’s wonder girls, moved up a gear to swiftly open up a decisive gap that was ever growing and claim the race sight unseen.

Her final winning margin of 16 seconds, wrapping up the distance in 14:54, simply echoed the magnitude and quality of her supremacy and form as she will be heading to Slovenia with confidence sky high to add the European title to her silverware.

Notwithstanding a thorough defeat, sensational U17 Jessica Judd turned in a stellar display of her own to convincingly hold off  European U20 bronze medallist Annabel Gummow into a superb runner-up for her tender age, clocking 15:10 to 15:15 respectively, and demonstrate her amazing range once more while Stoke’s Katie Holt emerged as a new force, just a 9:55 performer over 3000m last summer, to grab a sound fourth in 15:23 further behind.

1.Emelia Gorecka 14:54, 2.Jessica Judd (U17) 15:10, 3.Annabel Gummow 15:15, 4.Katie Holt 15:23, 5.Amy Griffiths (U17) 15:25, 6.Beth Carter 15:28, 7.Gemma Kersey 15:31, 8.Laura Muir 15:42, 9.Grace Baker (U17) 15:42

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U17 Women

Apart from highly-anticipated Judd, 15-year-old Amy Griffiths shone brightly herself to clinch a striking overall fifth and second in the U17 class in 15:25 as she is rising a new fascinating prospect through the ranks and a potential heir to the summit.

Grace Baker, also 15, was third and ninth overall in 15:42 to add to a very prolific day for Woods’s group.

1.Jessica Judd 15:10, 2.Amy Griffiths 15:25, 3.Grace Baker 15:42, 4.Abbie Hetherington 16:00

Full Results

http://www.uka.org.uk/EasysiteWeb/getresource.axd?AssetID=84447&type=full&servicetype=Attachment

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Purdue out but Twell comes in at European XC Trials in Liverpool

Top distance hopeful Charlotte Purdue will be missing the second leg of the McCain’s Cross-Country Challenge, incorporating the European Trials for Velenje (Slovenia) a fortnight on Sunday, due to a knee complaint that forced her into a slightly earlier return from a training stint in Kenya last week.

Nevertheless, the Mick Woods-coached U23 runner looks to have been pre-selected on the senior team and can solely turn her sights on the European Championships where she is aiming to steer into the medals.

By contrast, groupmate star Steph Twell, having also just returned from Kenya, is contesting her first serious race since a freak accident in February that saw her miss the entire track season, hoping to snatch a place of her own on the British team.

The 22-year-old tested her leg in a calculated gamble of a low-key road relay in September to come off well and unscathed but she is still lying some way off top shape and therefore may have to fight her way into the U23 outfit, with Hannah Walker, Lauren Howarth and teammate Emma Pallant figuring among the starters.

On the other hand, in-excellent-form Gemma Steel is brimming with confidence and pace as she heads into the race as standout senior favourite to clinch a second back-to-back victory in the series and it’s hard to see where a challenge could come from given the complexion of the affair.

Backing up her claim, the 26-year-old remains unbeaten on any surface or distance since September and would like to add to that three-on-the-trot string.

A further couple of very welcome returns to the fold involve ‘chaser Hattie Dean, fourth over the barriers in Barcelona last year, who competes for the first time since injury ruined a season that started in the most promising colours of a straight Olympic qualifier of 9:37.95 in Rome last May; as well as European Cup 1500m victor Charlene Thomas who hasn’t raced on any surface since the very same time of her highest feat so far as though following parallel fortunes.

Despite their pedigree, both are going to be unknown quantities until the contest gets going and maybe even further until it hits decisive stages, likely feeling their way into action.

Freya Murray, Justina Heslop and Julia Bleasdale are other notable names on the start-lists, which oddly don’t include the name of Thomas – a late withdrawal?

On the men’s side, the presence of World Student Games champion Andy Vernon promises an injection of quality on the opener of the series and a stern test for the likes of Frank Tickner and Phil Wicks, the prominent figures in Bristol, along with the comeback of Andy Baddeley on the country after sitting out last winter. It will be really interesting to see what sort of proposition the latter is going to offer on the back of a poor summer campaign.

U23 steeplechaser James Wilkinson has got to be a red-hot favourite among U23 men while James Walsh, Tom Humphries and Mark Draper, apparently working his way back over the barriers, are other names to watch.

Emelia Gorecka and Annabel Gummow, the silver and bronze medallists over 5000m at the European U20 Championships, engage in a very enticing duel in the junior ranks anew and the affair is spiced up nicely with the presence of sensational U17 prospect Jessica Judd.

The first three-past-the-post in each division gain automatic qualification for Slovenia although an U23 runner that finishes in a senior qualifying spot, with the two age groups blended into a single race, can still claim his place in the top tier.

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Entry Lists

http://www.uka.org.uk/EasysiteWeb/getresource.axd?AssetID=84404&type=full&servicetype=Attachment

Selection policy

http://www.uka.org.uk/EasysiteWeb/getresource.axd?AssetID=82411&type=full&servicetype=Attachment