Euro Cross to take shape this weekend
The European Cross Country Championships is set to take shape this weekend with Fionnuala Britton taking on former world cross country champion Linet Masai in France and her leading rivals competing in Tilburg at the Dutch nationals.
Britton is set to compete in the Cross de L’Acier in Leffrincoucke in Northern France on Sunday where her form is set to be revealed for the first time this season. She has been unchallenged to date in her opening three races but that is set to change with a gaggle of Ethiopians and former world cross and world 10,000m champion Linet Masai of Kenya toeing the line. France’s Sophie Duarte is also on the startlist.
The Wicklow woman has looked impressive to date but this will be a true gauge to her current form and fitness. Britton missed the majority of the summer due to illness.
Even more interesting will be the form of her main rivals for the title this weekend at the Dutch nationals in Tilburg which is also an open international meet.
Ethiopian refugee Sifan Hassan is now a Dutch national and could be set challenge Britton and cast further shadows on the future of European distance runninig with African naturalisation to European countries.
Hassan came to Holland in 2008 as a refugee and boasts personal bests of 2:00.86 for 800m, 4:03.73 for 1500m and 8:32.53 for 3,000m. On the 13th of October she ran 20:10 for 4 miles.
Along with the threat of Hassan, will be Ana Dulce Felix (Portugal) and Karoline Grovdal (Norway who also race in Tilburg. Felix won the Euro Cross in Dublin in 2009 and the 10,000m in Helsinki in 2012. Grovdal won the junior race in Dublin in 2009.
Meanwhile in Britain, Gemma Steele will be in action at the British trials at Sefton Park in Liverpool tomorrow. Steele has been lighting up the roads the last few months and will be eager to transfer her form onto the grass and mud.
There hasn’t been a lot of form to read into up to this weekend so it will be intriguing to see the fitness of the key contenders.
The NCAA championships also take place and interest from an Irish perspective will be in Sarah Collins who will be hoping to help Providence College to the team title, Shane Quinn (Providence), Kevin Dooney (Yale) and Jake Byrne (Iona). All could be in line to return for Ireland to run in the U-23 age category.