Alastair Aitken
Alastair Aitken
Alastair Aitken's
Interviews and

McCain UK Inter Counties [heading] UK Challenge 2012 - part 2

Gemma Steel was not only the winner of he Inter-Counties Senior Women's race at Crofton Park on the 10th of March but the top scorer for the season in the McCain Uk Cross Challenge for 2011/2012    
Although Gemma won the race by a reasonable margin Steph Twell, moved through the field to run with her for all of the middle of the race and it was not till the last lap that Gemma broke away, to follow up her National victory.
First six of 248 finishers:- 1 Gemma Steel (Leicestershire) 26:48; 2 Stephanie Twell (Hampshire) 27:03; 3 Hannah Doran (Leicestershire) 27:25; 4 Naomi Teschimowitz (Avon & Somerset) 27:34; 5 Louise Small (Hampshire) 27:47; 6 Caryl Jones (West Wales) 27:52. First 3 teams:- 1 Hampshire 208; Scotland East 215; 3 Yorkshire 248. Surrey, Essex and North East followed that out of the 25 clubs that closed in.


"I was a bit on shaky ground for a start, as I tried to take it out really fast and run my own race for the first lap. Steph worked her way through. Maybe I was doing a bit too much on the first lap but I was not breathing heavy so that was where the strength lies really'
   You did tell me after the National you were not a track runner and made it sound as though you had not taken it up really?
  " I have never given myself a chance really. I had never been a  track runner'
    It must now give you a lot of confidence in going into the track season
 " I think you can run on any surface really. My coach John Nutall (Ex-National Champion) thinks.  I can do it and a good chance of making it this year as a 5000 or 10000 runner. I have done some quite fast 400 reps anyway."
      Which of the three races European bronze, National or Inter-Counties stand out for you most?
 " I would say the National. The biggest achievement and the first time I have got on the cover of the 'Athletics Weekly'
A really good memory. The children were asking me for my autograph. It was a really special day."
   " Do you think then it will be the 5000 for you?
" If I can get away with it, it will be the 5000 as running round 26 times for 10,000 is less appealing. In my debut over 5000 I ran 15:47 last year. I have done 9.01 for 3000 indoors so, I felt then I could have kept going really. Keeping that same pace up for much longer."


   On continuing to improve with her race in the Inter-Counties after the long lay off, compared to her good National run as well
         " Time margin will be a bit different to the 'Nationals' but I felt that the way I raced was really positive. Going out there and being next to Gemma and feeling my own rhythm myself. In the National I was gauging where I was domestically'
   ' In the Inter-Counties I was with Gemma, we worked together, almost the whole way round and we ran really well together till the last lap.
The crowd support and atmosphere was good as well. I am getting my competitive animal back again."
`    ' I hope to do the National road relays because I love running for my club Aldershot Farnham & District. I really love it. Of course that is provided I am not doing any track races at the time."
Having already gained a Commonwealth track bronze Steph Twell will certainly be on the short list again for an Olympic place I am sure.


" I was really very, very pleased with my result. It did not start as slow as last year. I worked my way through the first lap.'
   ' I had been injured right up until the start of this year. I raced the Midlands at the end of January I was racing , trying out my fitness but not hoping for much in January. I came second in the Midlands. This is only my fourth race and I am enjoying it now.'
   When were her best races?
" I have only run in the World Cross once (58th). I did not run particularly well when I was there but I ran really well in the Inter-Counties(4th) that was in 2009.'
   Your coach Bill Foster, an ex-marathon international, veteran over 40 National 5k track Champion and an indoor World Vets winner, must have helped you with your training?
  " He has worked really well with me all Winter. Keeping fit and away from running;doing cross-training and base fitness so it would not take too long to come back. I came back very strongly'
   The Start of it all
" I first started when I was 13 and gone all the way through with Inter-counties and things and I am now 28.'
     ' Bill is so good to work with so I looked forward to training sessions and to a good second half of the cross-country season"

Alastair Aitken

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