Needless to say, there was a very thin competitive schedule up around Britain over Christmas and Boxing Day although most athletes did honour the occasion by putting in morning sessions before the traditional festive table.

Christmas Eve

Former ‘chaser Jon Pepper, who is moving up to longer distances now, was an easy winner of the Brighton & Hove Parkrun 5km in 14:39, placing a good distance of 24 secs on U23 second-placed Chris Dodd, while Beijing marathon Olympian Liz Yelling took the respective event at Poole in 17 mins dead, coming second overall.

Furthermore, Scot Freya Murray, a team gold medallist at the European XC Championships in Velenje a fortnight ago on Christmas, won the Edinburgh Parkrun over the same distance in 16:44.

Mellor defeats Brownlee at Clitheroe

Liverpoolian Jon Mellor, breaking through to a big PB of 13:36.40 over 5000m on the track last summer, applied well to convincingly hold off the menacing thiathlon machine of Alistair Brownlee by a gap of five seconds at the Ribble Valley 10km on the road on Tuesday, topping off his most successful year to winning ways in 29:10 to the latter’s 29:15.

However, the twice Triathlon world champion had every reason to leave the course happy as he shattered his own PB by a full 20 secs and gained a further big mental boost gearing up to claim the Olympic title in London, along with his also exceptional brother Jonathan.

In third, slightly behind, was a surging back miler Ricky Stevenson who also bettered his PB by a dozen seconds into 29:17 while U23 Scot Derek Hawkins, a team silver medallist at the European XC Championships recently, came home some way behind in sixth in 29:48, a mere second off his best.

Milers Steve Mitchell and Chris Warburton performed decent overdistance workouts in big PBs of 30:09 and 30:37 for 10th and 18th respectively where Katrina Wooton finished top woman in the race in 33:58.

Boxing Day

In the meantime, marathon Olympic hopeful Louise Damen came top woman in a SB of 33:48 over 10km on the road at Poole in her first outing since dropping out early, just after 10km, of the Yokohama marathon in Japan late last month.

By all appearances, however, she is not going to have a crack at a winter marathon and will instead head straight to a make or break run-off against the other British girls, save already selected Paula Radcliffe and Mara Yamauchi, for the remaining third Olympic spot in the London marathon in April.

(Full results in the respective section)