Hattie Dean rebounded well from a below par outing in Velenje last Sunday to return a solid performance while Steve Vernon stepped up his game over the flat but quite muddy course at the IAAF Lotto XC Permit Meeting in Brussels, Belgium, today.

Vernon mixed it well with the chasing second pack to gradually mark out a creditable sixth in 33:56 slotting in the gap between fifth-marker Alex Kibet (KEN, 33:31) and multi-European champion on the country Sergey Lebid (UKR, 34:10), notching up the scalp of a disappointing Joshpat Bett (KEN) who just scraped into the top ten in 34:31.

Tom Humphries also applied well to come home a place ahead of Bett in 34:18 and carve out a very encouraging follow-up on a battling showing that contributed substantially into Britain’s silver in the senior men’s race at the Europeans last weekend, while European U23 silver medallist James Wilkinson followed a couple of spots behind in 34:33 for eleventh.

The senior men’s race itself (roughly 10500m) at the top could hardly bear the term contest as young Kenyan star Isaiah Koech, the world indoor U20 record holder over 5000m, was itching to go from the gun and totally let rip from the third lap on to destroy the field with ease, sparing huge daylight of 45 seconds on runner-up Atelaw Bekele in a winning time of 32:32.

The latter, a surprise new European champion in Velenje, returned quickly to the tough reality of cross-country beyond the continent boundaries but still fared well to hold off Gilbert Kirui by a couple of seconds.

The senior women’s event (roughly 6km) turned, by sharp contrast, a tight tussle that saw Caroline Chepkwony edge out compatriot Faith Kipyegon to a narrow victory by a mere second, clocking 21:17 and 21:18 respectively, out of a long drive for home around 600m out.

Ethiopia’s Almenesh Belete rounded out the top-three places not far off behind in 21:25 and considerably before Dutchwoman Adrienne Herzog who set 21:34 into fourth.

‘Hats’ Dean was more like herself again to finish top Briton in sixth, just as Vernon, in 21:44 but just a mere second ahead of surging comeback girl Steph Twell who keeps stunning everyone around with her competitive progress week after week – at this rate, she could well come on terms with her best form by spring!

For good measure, she finished top U23 Briton as a revived Emily Pidgeon showed glimpses of her talent again a little further back in ninth in 21:54, improving by chunks on her display at the European Trials in Liverpool, with European U23 5000m bronze medallist Stevie Stockton a place behind in 22:01 and Vilenje conqueror Emma Pallant down in twelfth in 22:07 – but she raised her game when it mattered!

Kieran Clement made easy going of the U20 men’s 6km race as he won by a full 20 seconds in 20:10 as the Brits occupied all top four positions with Charlie Grice entering the fray in fourth in 20:48, while promising 17-year-old miler Rob Farnham-Rose further behind in ninth (21:09).

Philippa Woolvan made it a double for the juniors from these shores in convincingly winning the girls equivalent by a good 12 secs in 15:27 over the roughly 4km route.

Full Results

http://sport.be.msn.com/lottocrosscup/2011/fr/brussel/uitslagen/live.html

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Around Britain…

At the Manchester Open at the Sportcity, former European U23 silver medallist Luke Cutts made a useful low-key start to his indoor season as he cleared 5.20m in the pole vault, tying his best through the whole summer season. Hopefully, he is going to put his woes behind him and draw back on track to bid for an Olympic berth in London although he will probably need to improve his PB of 5.62 (2009) considerably to this effect.

Jarryd Dunn, moving into the U23 province in the new season, opened up in a straight indoor PB of 48.71 over 400m to carry on from where he left off last summer, reaching the seminfinals of the European U20 Championships in Tallinn.

Up in Sheffield at the Northern Athletics Open on Saturday, U23 decathlete Daniel Gardiner got his season off to a sound first-day of a weekend workout that drew a new PB of 6.94 secs over 60m, his first ever trip inside 7 seconds at that, combined with an indoor best ever figure of 7.36m in the long jump. Apart from those, he also reached 13.54m in the shot.

The men’s dash, however, was sneaked on the line by 17-year-old Ben Shields who powered off to a new PB of 6.93 secs to erase his previous best of 6.96 posted at the same venue last month, making  for a promising start.

The following day, Gardiner travelled down to Manchester to condlude his weekend assignment by way of a 4.10m in the pole vault and a 8.73 secs over 60m hurdles, both SBs.

Lewis Moses also ran an interesting solo 8:23.34 in the men’s 3000m.

In the women’s hurdles, Katey Read was a comfortable winner in 8.62 secs ahead of U23 Karla Drew, who ran a straight PB of 8.73 secs, and 18-year-old Katy Marchant who also PB’ed in 8.79 secs.

On the road, U23 Jess Coulson recorded a solid debut of 33:18 over 10km to finish top woman at Telford ahead of Sarah Hood, who set a big PB of 34:14 herself. Ben Tickner crept under 30mins by a couple of seconds to win the men’s contest convincingly from U23 John McDonnell, who posted 30:26 on his debut.

At the Ronnie Walker Saltwell 10k up in Gateshead, Ryan McLeod strolled away to an easiest of wins in 30:57 off the back of a sound showing at the European XC Championships, capped with a team silver, where Olympic marathon hopeful Alyson Dixon was first woman home in ninth in 35:59.