Last chance for Fionnuala Britton to rediscover winning form in Edinburgh

Event also doubles again as a triangular international between Great Britain, Europe and the US


It may well be the last cross country race that matters for her this season, and the last chance too for Fionnuala Britton (above) to rediscover her winning form. Either way Britton will be hungry for victory at tomorrow’s Great Edinburgh Cross Country.

Yet again the event goes out live on BBC1 (1.15pm-2.45pm), and Britton is seeking a hat-trick of wins – just like she was at last month’s European Cross Country, and last weekend’s Antrim International. On both those occasions Britton fell short, finishing fourth, and the least she’s be looking for tomorrow is a place on the podium.

The event also doubles again as a triangular international between Great Britain, Europe and the US: Britton is joined on the European team by the woman who took her European title in Belgrade, Sophie Duarte of France, and also Almensch Belete form Belgium, one of the three former Ethiopians who also finished ahead of her in Antrim last weekend.

Own way
In other words Britton won’t have it all her own way like she did a year ago, with Gemma Steel from Great Britain, who won silver in Belgrade, also in the mix. But with no World Cross Country this season – that event now taking place every two years – the opportunity to retain at least one of her titles may be enough to spur Britton to victory.

Ireland’s Michael Mulhare and David McCarthy have also been rewarded for their form this season with places on the men’s European, who also face Great Britain and the US. The man to beat will be another former Ethiopian, Alemayehu Bezabeh, who won the men’s European title last month running in the colours of his adopted country, Spain.

Tomorrow’s event also includes a men’s invitational 4km race, which will feature Kenenisa Bekele from Ethiopia, who yesterday announced that he would be making his long-awaited marathon debut in Paris on April 6th.

Moving up
The 31 year-old Bekele – a triple Olympic gold medallist, and still the 5,000-10,000 metres world record holder – has been flirting with the idea of moving up to the marathon for the last number of years. Now, he believes, his time has come, although he has avoided an anticipated showdown with Britain’s Mo Farah, who has also signed up to run the London Marathon in April.

“If I am going to do a marathon, of course I want to win,” Bekele told the IAAF. “I want to have a good result. I am not going to run to lose or just for a bad result. Everybody, not only me, feels that when you are going to compete, you are going to try to win the race. Of course, if I train hard I will do a fast time. But I can’t say I will run 2:03, 2:05 or 2:06.

“The only thing is I have to prepare myself and train hard until I finish a marathon. I have to motivate myself to train hard to be ready to put myself in a good position. We will see in the end what the result will be.”

Yet surely Bekele will at least be targeting the Paris Marathon course record of 2:05:12, set by Kenya’s Stanley Biwott in 2012.