Alastair Aitken
Alastair Aitken
Alastair Aitken's
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World Trial and Inter-Counties Part Two (March 2013)

Louise Damen followed up her National win with another fine performance by winning the McCain World Trial & Inter-Counties Championships at Crofton Park.  For a long time Elle Baker held the lead and at one stage had a 50 metre gap on Damen, who was in second place then came Emily Wicks, Steph Twell, and Lilly Partridge,  running together with Gemma Steel behind that. 2k to go Damen took over and never looked back with Baker a good second but more of a scrap for third as Gemma Steel, last year's Champion came through..
291 finished which shows how popular women's cross country has now become.
 First Eight:- 1 Louise Damen (Hampshire) 26:58; 2 Elle Baker (Greater Manchester) 27:06; 3 Gemma Steel 27:24; 4 Emily Wicks (Surrey) 27:28; 5 Steph Twell (Hampshire) 27:30; 6 Lily Partridge (Surrey) 27:34; 7 Emma Clayton (Yorkshire) 27:41 an 8 Rhona Auckland (Scotland East) 27:57.
 First Three teams:- 1 Hampshire 151 (6 in 61); 2 Surrey 154; 3 Yorkshire 190.

LOUISE DAMEN

About the race " I did not feel as good today but luckily I had the strength to hang on. For me it was not as good as the National as I felt really good  that day.It was job done to-day!" (National-result at Herrington Country Park on the 23 rd of February:-Louise Damen 29:31; 2 Sonia Samuels 30:31; 3 Gemma Steel 30:40).
 What were her plans after the cross-country season
       'An Autumn Marathon'
 Which race stands out in her whole life then?
      'Probably the National a couple of weeks ago because that is obviously one of my favourite races.'
 What about that even muddier National win at Alton Towers in 2010
      'That is a close call. Perhaps the National a couple of weeks ago because I won it by a big margin. It was really nice and I did not expect to do that' (2011--Alton Towers 1 Louise Demon 23:49; 2 Hatti Dean 23:56; 3 Liz Yelling 23:56.Then came Steel, Samuels and Stockton).'
 Louise has not got a coach and uses her considerable experience in the sport.
      "I coach myself. I train with my fiancĂ© quite a bit Chris Powner (Also from her Winchester club who has run 29:39 for 10k). He is quite a good  training partner. Training is going well."
 Training
           " Usual stuff; pretty much what everyone else does really. Obviously I have got the marathon work in the background which helps. I do interval work, long runs & faster tempo runs."
 Haile Gebrelassie told me he loves to run out in the countryside and he would always do that.  How about you?
       " I like running in the New Forrest and that is where I am from. I like running back there on my own trails"

ELLY BAKER

           She used to be coached in her earlier days by Mick Firth at South London Harriers (Mick was 3rd and 4th in the National Senior championships back in 1950's). Now by Dave Turnbull who coaches the 'charming man' she is engaged to at Stockport Harrier, Steve Vernon. Elly is 29 now.
 "It was a really good race today and I did not expect to be in the lead at one point.It was just going into the swamp I did that.Louise overtook me in the back straight with about 2k to go."
  She added  " I started running when I was 17 but had a massive patch of injuries.Two heel spurs, one in each foot.Got that around 2007. I had two operations.The first  operation improved it marginally but not enough so I could do all the training I needed to do so, I had another operation in 2009. Since then it was hard work but with the rehab it took 18 months struggling to get back to where I was before. Thanks' to Dave Turnbull, Steve and my Dad.They made it possible for me to get back. it was nice to get a bit of a reward today.'
 'I was 2nd in the Northern. It snowed the night before and was really wet.The course had snow with thick mud underneath it and I could not run on it. It was one of those days you just can't run.
  She then said " 'I really want to do the 5000 properly. My best is 15.44 and I would like to run 15:30 this Summer."

GEMMA STEEL
(The 2012 National and Inter-Counties Champion)

   "I had an injury and was off for 4 months, had an operation and it was my first run back at the end of January. It was only my third race back today.  I started doing grass session 4 weeks ago.'
She continued " This year I would like to do the road races, probably a few track races but not mad  on the track. Do half marathons and things."
 Moving through from about 7th and 8th in the first half of the race she held off some good runners to come in third at the finish
 "I was more competitive in this one than in the National. I could not have gone any quicker."

Alastair Aitken

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