For many cross country runners up and down the country, the end of November is synonymous with the Liverpool Cross Challenge which incorporates the British trials for the European Cross Country Championships. Hoards of athletes and spectators opted out of the “Black Friday” shopping weekend and instead decided to battle it out with fellow cross country runners on the mud and grass of Sefton Park, Liverpool. It has always been a popular fixture on the cross country calendar, and this year was no different. For many, the senior races were the highlight of the day and attracted a high quality field of Olympians and International athletes all vying not only for victory, but also for a place on the British Team for the European Cross Cross Country Championships in Chia, Italy on the 11th of December. Team NBMCR had four representatives at Liverpool, with Ross, Andy and Charlie in the Senior Men’s race and Eli in the Senior Women’s.

The men’s race was arguably the most competitive ever with four Olympians competing for the four automatic places along with a host of other Great Britain international athletes that have been running well over the road and cross country this winter. The pace was fast from the start and almost single file after only one mile with the in-form Scots Andrew Butchard and Callum Hawkins pushing the pace. After only 2 miles and one lap completed Andrew Butchard made a big move and instantly opened a gap up over Callum Hawkins with another gap opening up to the chasing pack of Ross, Andy Vernon, Dewi Griffiths and Ben Conor of Derby AC. The race would remain that way for the remaining two laps with Ross and Andy Vernon pulling away from Dewi and Ben in the closing stages after a tough battle for the last 2 automatic spots. It amazing to think that the GB team has a sub 13:10 5km runner, a sub 61:00 half marathon runner and 2 sub 28:00 10km runners in the 4 automatic spots! It has been a long time since Great Britain distance running has been in this position!

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Well done to Ross for making his third consecutive European Cross Country Championships! He took the time this week to do the Team NBMCR Q & A which can be found below.

Charlie and Andy also had good races, and battled well in the seriously high class field to finish 10th and 17th respectively.

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The Senior Women’s race was a close race with just four seconds separating the first six athletes. The race was eventually won by Gemma Steel, who took her fourth consecutive victory at this event, followed by followed by Charlotte Arter in second and Rebecca Murray in third. After a promising start, the mud and soft ground took it’s toll on Eli, who in her own word is “not really in her element on the grass and mud”. She fought to the end, eventually finishing a credible 15th.

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More information on the Great Britain Teams selected can be found here:

http://www.britishathletics.org.uk/media/news/2016-news-page/november-2016/30-11-16-european-cross-country-team/

Away from cross country, Jonny is back on the roads this weekend at the Course De L’Escalade Road Race in Geneva, Switzerland. Good luck Jonny!

Q & A with Ross Millington

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Favourite pair of running shoes?

NB 880. Nothing flashy, you can just put ton of mileage in them with no problems.

Favourite place to run?

Anywhere with mountains or incredible landscape. Iten, Kenya would probably be top of the list.

If you weren’t a runner what would you do?

God knows. Probably something involving sport or the outdoors, no way I’d be sat behind a desk somewhere!

Who inspired you to start running?

Nobody really inspired me, I just found I was good at it straight away when I started cross country at secondary school, and I like being good at things so I stuck at it!

First race?

School’s cross country for Stockport Grammar

What do you love most about running?

Being outdoors and the sense of freedom you can get from it. I love to get inspired by the different environments and surroundings I find myself in .

Childhood hero?

I don’t think I really had a hero, but once I was into my running, Craig Mottram was a big inspiration as he was one of the only non-Africans to be up there in Championship races

Biggest influence in your athletics career so far?

My coaches, Steve Vernon and Dave Turnbull

Favourite race venue?

Bolzano, Italy. I’ve only raced there once, but it’s a road race on New Years Eve around a 1200m street circuit. The crowds are really close as you run through the Christmas markets, and the whole race feels really intense.

Favourite weather to train in?

I like all kinds, I don’t mind the heat or the cold. But favourite would probably be a fresh winter morning.

Career highlight?

Qualifying for the Olympics this year at Leiden. My coach was there to share that moment and realise something we had both worked so hard for was amazing.

Interests away from running?

Eating food

Funniest team-mate in Team NBMCR?

Everyone brings something, but funniest would be Jonny’s eating habits.

Favourite film?

Gladiator

Favourite food?

It would be easier to list the foods I don’t like. But probably paella, or steak and chips, or beans on toast!

Favourite holiday destination?

What’s a holiday?

Best advice?

Don’t worry about what anybody else is dong. Focus on yourself and do what’s right for you.

Goals for 2017?

World Championships 10,000m in London

Favourite motivational quote?

KISS- Keep it Simple Stupid.

KISS, keep it simple, stupid

Until next time…