Alastair Aitken
Alastair Aitken
Alastair Aitken's
Interviews and


Gemma Steel had another brilliant run to win the National Women's cross country at Parliament Hill Fields, after her 'surprise'  third place in the European cross country Cross Country Championships when she was first British woman.
   It was a great race as there was a select group leading the field. When they spread out after the half way point Steph Twell was in about fourth or fifth position but very much in contention for a medal and she fought hard and just inched home third in a sprint with Sonia Samuels, that showed she is coming back to the form that gave her such success in 2010.
   GEMMA STEEL of Charnwood AC. " I took the lead at the top of the hill. Hatti Dean was there in the race and we had a ding-dong battle in the Trials. My coach John Nuttall was shouting at me to come on at the top of the last hill when I thought I had it in the bag but they were only five seconds or so behind me at the end.'
' The National was something I always wanted to win really as it is a prestigious event.'
   Although she has run on the track Gemma remarked " I have only just started doing track work seriously really and starting to get used to it.. My coach John Nutall has been encouraging me and as he has won the National himself he has the experience'
   Being 2012 she said " I am going to try for the Olympic 5 or 10k. A lot of people have said 10,000 would suit me better'
   Looking back now " I did sprinting to begin with but first started really in 2005/2006. I had run cross-country for the school but nothing like the English Schools.'
 JOHN NUTTALL (1996 National cross country Champion) " Gemma does a lot of aerobic work. She is very good at running at a certain pace without overdoing the lactic. She will do the track and get that extra bit out of herself over 3000 & 5000, At  the moment she has been doing tempo and steady running.'  
  The National John said " It was special for me. Everyone wants to win it. Gemma came down and wanted to win it as it was 2012 in London. She came with the club to enjoy the day and walked away with the National Trophy. A great day for her."
   STEPH TWELL " Frankly, Parliament Hill is the home of the National and a true test for me, coming back from my injury' and we really raced it out.'
   Regarding the 'Great time before the bad injury that Steph Twell had run magnificently to come third in the Commonwealth which must have been something special to remember? ' Absolutely!-The evolution of training, putting all the hard work in and being the athlete I want to be."
       HANNAH WALKER was fourth " It was my first senior race so I was really happy with that. I really enjoyed today I am looking towards doing the 5 & 10k on the track"
First 8 of 649 finishers were 1 Gemma Steel (Charnwood AC) 27:06; 2 Steph Twell (Aldershot Farnham & District) 27:09; 3 Sonia Sammuels (Sale Harriers Manchester) 27:09; 4 Hannah Walker (Birchfield Harriers) 27:14; 5 Hatti Dean (Hallamshire Harriers) 27:47; 6 Lizzie Adams (Hallamshire Harriers) 27:53; 7 Naomi Tachimowitz (Taunton AC) 28:08; 8 Stevie Stockton (Vale Royal AC) 28:16.
1 Hallamshire Harriers 156; 2 Bristol & West AC 159, 3 Shaftesbury Barnet Harriers 181.

                                    HAY WINS AGAIN
Jonathan Hay ran in a group  till 2km to go then,  took off and won the Junior National well but the one who improved was Harvey Dixon, also of the Aldershot winning team. He was well off the pace till the latter part of the race and  came through for second beating the two people who were in front of him in the Southern, Nial Fleming (9th) and Kieran Clements (4th). In the group at the front, till Hay put the boot in was Paul Thompson (8th), who appeared to suffer in the final stages where as Kieran Clements of Ipswich got up for 4th place.
   Jon Hay had run against the seniors, which included some very good Kenyans in Edinburgh in the BUPA Great run in Holyrood Park on January the 7th. He was second which must have made him feel that as a senior he could match it with those in the senior age group, which will stand him in good stead for the future? " It was my last Junior one today. I am ready for the transition now. That was why I wanted to prepare for the senior races this year. When I come to them I will just hit them hard. It was a really good performance in Edinburgh and that one stands out for me. Having such a good start to the season Hopefully from then on its "2012!" I did 13:57 early last season for 5k I was not immensely happy about that. I was  third in the European Junior 5000. It was a Championship to go for so I would have to be pleased with that."
   How did this year's National compare for him with last year's win? " Much  the same in a way. Ran away at the same point in the same sort of fashion."
        In the younger age groups Bobby Clay of  Invica East Kent followed up her Southern victory in the  Under 15 girls race and Emelia Gorecka was impressive again, after her junior win in the Southern with victory at Parliament Hill taking Aldershot & Farnham to a clear team victory. Somebody who won the first Metropolitan League race of the season at Claybury and went on to win the Southern, then the National at Parliament Hill Fields, is one to  look for in the future by the name of CAANAN SOLOMON of Woodford Green & Essex Ladies. When did he feel he would try and win against the formidable opposition  in the Under 13's race, with  Markum Lonsdale of  Gateshead and Hugo Milner of Derby AC who were 2nd and 3rd respectively?
                  Caanan " As soon as I hit the downhill bit. John & Richard told me to do that.' He continued " I train 4 days a week"
The two people, both have been good club runners in their time John Stow & Richard Thurston advise Caanan and keep him on the right road. Richard sets his the schedules and discusses his training with John and they come to a very amicable conclusion on things. Regarding the race John said " He went down the hill and hung on really well." Richard said " Very pleased. He ran to the tactics we wanted and it would be difficult. We thought Milner might take it out for the first half but it was all very tactical "

Alastair Aitken

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