Colchester born Stephanie Twell led the Scot's contingency at the International Cross Country championship held in the picture postcard setting of Holyrood Park on Saturday.
European cross country champion Hayley Yelling-Higham led from the start at the BUPA Great Edinburgh International Cross Country in Holyrood Park (Saturday, January 9), with Scotland's Freya Murray sitting on her shoulder in the early part of the race. However as the race progressed the African athletes came into their own, with eventual winner Tirunesh Dibaba (Ethiopa) completing the strenuous 6k course in a time of 21:37. The race for second place was keenly fought with Kenya's Vivian Cheruiyot defeating Ethiopian Kalkidan Gezahegn by one second with a time of 21:47.
A great performance from twenty year old Steph Twell, making her home debut as a Scot (qualifying through her Paisley born mother), saw her finishing in a dead heat with Hayley Yelling-Higham with a time of 21:51. Twell placed fifth overall and first Scottish athlete ahead of eighth placed Freya Murray (26) who led Scotland East to victory in the Inter District Scottish Championships with a time of 22:19. East's Rosie Smith (24) placed third Scot and 15th overall with a time of 23:54. One second behind was Elspeth Curran (20) helping the Scottish Universities team to clinch the runners up spot and placing 16th. East's Sula Young (31) placed 18th with 24:13, six seconds ahead of the Universities Sarah Hood (27) who placed 19th, one place ahead of her name sake Nicola Hood (19) who helped West District secure third prize, with her time of 24:26. North's super vet Melissa Whyte (45) was just one second behind in 21st place and one second ahead of Universities' Fiona Gentles (23) in 21st spot. East's Helen Sharpe (29) was next with a time of 24:46, followed by her team mate Catriona Buchanan (18) in 24:53. Twenty-one year old Hester Dix, representing the students, placed 25th in 24:57. East's Jennifer MacLean and Morgan Murphy crossed the line together in 24:58. Student Rebecca Finch (19) placed 28th in 25:01, 44 seconds ahead of East's Alison Docherty (20). One second behind in 30th place was Danielle Brown (19) representing Scottish Universities. West's Beth Duff (18) placed 31st with 25:50, one second ahead of Universities' Megan Crawford (20) in 32nd spot. West's Cara Sloss (22) and student Niamh Devlin (25) finished in a dead heat with a time of 25:53. East's Claire Whitehead placed 35th in 25:58 with West's Toni McIntosh one place behind in 26:04. East's Fiona Thompson (23) placed 37th with a time of 26:10. Next around the snow covered course was West's veteran Julia Henderson (37) in 26:12. Super vet Sheila Gollan (45) beat her North District team mate Moira Davies by three seconds to finish 39th with a time of 26:15. West District's seventeen year old Emma Rice placed 41st with 26:31 just one second ahead of Universities' nineteen year old Christina Rankin. West's Alison Winship (38) placed 43rd in 27:01, four seconds ahead of her young team mate Ruth Joss (20 who closed the race in 48th position.
View from the Front
Speaking after the race Steph Twell said: "It was fantastic, everyone was really getting behind me, I've always been welcomed here, and there was lots of great support all around the course. I'm happy with my performance, it was one place lower than last year but for me it was different opposition. Dibaba was in the race and European Cross Country Champion Hayley, so it was a strong field and I knew it was going to be tough. I just wanted to come out here and have a good race today after the work I'd done over Christmas. I had a dress rehearsal in Wednesday's race and it was the real show today. I love running here, it's my favourite cross country course in the world."
First six finishers count.
East District 38; Scottish Universities 57; West District 115.