Britton turns her attention to indoor season after latest win
ATHLETICS:So after seven races, including four utterly commanding wins, and beaten by African opposition in the rest, with only one exception, Fionnuala Britton will press the pause button on her cross country season – although it won’t be to take a breath.
Saturday’s victory in the Antrim International Cross Country proved to be another mere canter for the Wicklow runner, just like Edinburgh the week before, as Britton once again led from gun to tape around the Greenmount course, winning by 12 seconds.
Now, however, her focus shifts to the indoor season, before wrapping it all up, ideally with all six cylinders firing, at the World Cross Country Championships, set for Bydgoszcz, in Poland, on March 24th.
The plan is to race over 3,000 metres in Karlrushe in Germany on February 2nd, then Birmingham on the 16th, and possibly again at the European Indoor Championships, set for Gothenburg on March 1st-3rd. There is also the possibility of one further cross country race, in Portugal, that same weekend in March.
“I haven’t done an indoor event for a while now,” said Britton – who won Saturday’s race in even more dominant style than a year ago. “I haven’t had much indoor training yet, and I don’t think many people have yet, so we’ll see how it goes.”
The intention is to sharpen the speed necessary to stick with the Kenyans and Ethiopians, come the World Cross Country, For now, she’s running well within herself. There were some Africans present on Saturday, although the next best was Louise Damen, of Britain, who took second.
Linda Byrne had another good run, battling with Magdalyne Masai of Kenya for third podium position for the majority of the race, before ending up fourth, only three seconds behind Masai. The other Kenyan, Eunice Kales, took fifth.
Britton’s winning time, for the 5.6km race, was 18:17: “Running at home . . . on more pressure, and you feel everyone is expecting you to do it I suppose. But I really like it running in Antrim, because there are so many kids and it is nice to be able to inspire them to stick with running.
“Because it can be a lonely sport, but when you can see people succeeding it is more likely that you will be able to stick with it.”
Africa did take the men’s title, as Uganda’s World Cross Country junior silver medallist, Thomas Ayeko, got his first international cross country win, setting a fast pace over the mostly dry 10.8km course, to beat David Bett of Kenya.
The last target for Britton, the two-time European champion, at least in the current cross country season, will be the World Cross Country. Britton has had two top-20 finishes in the event, an excellent 14th when Kenya played host, in Mombasa, back in 2007, and she also finished 16th in the last edition of the championships, in Punta Umbria, Spain, in 2011 – and it’s no secret that she’s targeting a top-10 finish this time.