Britton not resting on laurels as she hits Brussels for a start
There is a more global look about the field awaiting Fionnuala Britton in Brussels this Sunday in her first race as two-time European Cross Country champion, and that’s exactly the way she wants it.
Both Britton and her coach, Chris Jones, were quick to point out that her victory in Budapest last Sunday week only ticked the first box in terms of winter goals, and that one of the biggest targets was the World Cross Country, set for Poland, at the end of March.
With that in mind, and never one to rest on her laurels anyway, Britton has now lined up several races over the coming weeks, including the Antrim International, on January 12th, which last year proved a sort of winning homecoming to her first European success, in Slovenia, in 2011 – and she’ll also defend her Great Edinburgh Cross Country title, on January 5th, a race Britton also brilliantly dominated a year ago.
But first up is the Lotto Cross Cup in Brussels on Sunday – the third stop race on the IAAF Cross Country permit circuit, and with that a naturally more global entry. Among the start list are three Kenyans and three Ethiopians, including the in-form Eleni Gebrehiwot.
More interesting, however, is Britton’s rematch against the now Belgian representative Almensh Belete, the Ethiopian-born runner who stuck so closely to Britton for much of the 8km race in Budapest, before finishing fourth.
Also in the starting line-up will be British runner Jess Coulson, who looked superb in winning the European Under-23 race in Budapest, and actually beat Britton earlier in the season.
Sunday’s race is over 6km, which will possibly favour Belete and Coulson, and probably force Britton to adopt similar front-running tactics that rewarded her with gold last time out.
Her confirmation too for next month’s Antrim International in Greenmount is a big coup for the local organisers, who have also attracted Ireland team-mate Linda Byrne, who finished eighth in Budapest and with that went a long way towards helping the team also win gold medals.
Ultimately, these races will lead Britton into the World Cross Country, which has now gone biennial, and is set for Bydgoszcz on March 24th:
“That will actually be the big race for Fionnuala this season,” said Jones. “Whether it’s top-10, or first non-African, she’s got to keep improving, has got to be competitive there as well.”
Meanwhile, Goal have announced details of their annual Christmas Day Goal mile, which is set for over 100 locations around the country.
However, with the UCD running track still out of order, the flagship Dublin venues will be in Killiney (Kilbogget Park) and in Tallaght (Greenhills Road), as last year’s venue at Leopardstown Racecourse is also not available.
Other Dublin venues will be at the Pope’s Cross, Phoenix Park, Irishtown Stadium, Malahide Castle, and St Anne’s Park, Raheny.
For a full listing of times and venues see www.goal.ie.