Avery's Edinburgh delight with McCormack in second for Team Europe as Farah defeated by Heath

Avery's Edinburgh delight with McCormack in second for Team Europe as Farah defeated by Heath
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Great Britain's Kate Avery triumphed in the senior women's race at the Great Edinburgh Cross Country ahead of Fionnuala McCormack for Team Europe and Gemma Steel also competing for Great Britain.

Great Britain came out triumphant from a superb afternoon of action at the Great Edinburgh Cross Country on Saturday, and what a day it proved to be for Kate Avery.

The silver medallist in the senior race at the last two SPAR European Cross Country Championships finally achieved a major win - as Mo Farah was second in the final race of this match between Britain, Team Europe and the USA.

With the top four for each team scoring in the junior races and the top six in the senior races, Britain won this European Athletics Cross Country Permit event with 125 points from Team Europe with 197 and the USA with 232.

This is the story of the day… 

Women’s senior (6km)

In the past two years, Kate Avery has come so close to glory at the SPAR European Cross Country Championships but now she has a fine victory to celebrate.

Avery took control of this race in the second of the four laps and she was never challenged, beating Ireland’s Fionnuala McCormack, who led the way for Team Europe.

It was a good 6km event for the European women who won the race overall to move in front in the match.

Avery triumphed in 21:05 from McCormack (21:09) with Britain’s Gemma Steel third (21:31) followed by Romania’s Ancuta Bobocel (21:38) collecting key points for Europe. Their other scorers in the top 10 were Spain's Trihas Gebre (21:43) in seventh, Denmark's Anna Baumeister (21:46) in eighth and Ireland's Lizzie Lee (21:51) in ninth.

"It is the biggest win of my career," said Avery. "I have always been in the medals, but not on top, always the bridesmaid. I am so delighted, but it was so cold."

Avery ran a brilliant, confident race after McCormack, who has won this event twice before, had made the early running.

At the end of the first lap, Avery just led at 5:13 but the second lap was important to the final outcome as she stepped up the pace.

In the first part of this lap, there was a tough climb to make which Avery went through fine but the water-jump near the end of it meant a moment to check her balance.

Gebre was in third before Steel went passed her.

At the 2014 SPAR European Cross Country Championships in Samokov, Steel beat Avery by the smallest of margins as they both had the same time. 

But there was no way Avery was even going to be caught today, while McCormack was never troubled in second.

It was a 6km to remember as Avery won in style but the support that McCormack had from her European teammates ensured the team won the race.

Team race result:

1. Europe 41

2. GB 48

3. USA 100

The men's senior race came down to the wire between Mo Farah of Team GB and Garrett Heath of the USA
The men's senior race came down to the wire between Mo Farah of Team GB and Garrett Heath of the USA

The men's senior race at the Great Edinburgh XCountry on 9 January came down to the wire between Mo Farah of Team GB and Garrett Heath of the USA.

Men’s senior (8km)

Wearing a bobble hat and gloves, Mo Farah competed over cross country for the first time in five years.

But if running on this surface was rare, even rarer was the fact that he did not win.

The Briton began his countdown to this year’s Olympic Games in Rio, where he will be defending his 5000m and 10,000m titles, by finishing second (25:31) to American Garrett Heath (25:29) whose teammate Scott Faubl (25:38) was third. Italy’s Lorenzo Dini was the first member of Team Europe home in eighth (25:54).

Farah was still smiles at the end and he will now head to the warmth of Ethiopia for some key winter training sessions ahead of such a big track summer.

It was race where his fellow Briton Callum Hawkins made much of the early running as the athletes completed two short laps and three long ones.

As is so often the case when Farah is competing, the field must have wondered where he was as he stayed in the middle of the pack before moving through on the first long lap of 1500m to lead.

At the end of the fourth lap, Hawkins was back in front (16:05) before at the bell Heath led at 20:54.

As they came down a slope for the final 170m sprint, Heath was still in front and Farah slipped as he turned into it, but was never going to catch his rival.

Farah said: "It’s early season and you do not want to lose. It was slippery, it was hard. I am looking forward to getting to the training camp and getting my head down."

But Britain's men did enough to win the team race and take the match as Hawkins (25:41) was fourth, Ross Millington (25:43) fifth, Dewi Griffiths (25:50) sixth and Andrew Butchart (25:53) seventh.

Team race result:

1. GB 36

2. USA 43

3. Europe 112

Junior women’s race (4km)

Splattered in a mud but with a smile on her face, Bobby Clay was a winner again.

The European junior 1500m champion triumphed in 14:09, beating her teammate Harriet Knowles-Jones (14:11), who had won silver in Hyères just a few weeks ago.

Clay, who was fifth in that race at the Championships, can be so dominant when she goes in front as she showed today, with her power and sprint finish proving effective.

Europe's athletes were third and fourth respectively, as Denmark’s Anne Emilie Moller (14:12) made a bold move to overtake Knowles-Jones, followed by Germany’s Sarah Kistner (14:23).

Team race result:

1. GB 16

2. Europe 29

3. USA 38

Junior men’s race (6km)

As Great Britain’s Alex Yee won the opening race of the match (19:23), it was a good start for Europe’s youngsters as they took four of the six top spots.

Kevin Mulcaire had led for Europe on the second lap but Yee came through to take charge as he won by two seconds from the Irishman.

Fresh from his individual silver and team gold at the SPAR European Cross Country Championships, Fabien Palcau (19:32) was third, one second in front of his fellow Frenchman Jimmy Gressier with Ireland’s Jack O’Leary in sixth (19:43).

Team race result:

1. Europe 15

2. GB 25

3. USA 47


*Laura Muir led Scotland A to victory in the International Team relay (4x1km) as they won in 11:34 from Great Britain (11:43) and Ireland (11:44) with Team Europe in seventh (12:04). This race, though, did not count in the match scores.