Harrison rises to the challenge

22/02 Updated: 23/02 16:57

SUE HARRISON stormed to victory in the Cotswold 35.35 Challenge road race on Sunday.

The Leamington C & AC star, with 400 miles of training behind her already this year, was in sparkling form in what was also billed as the official world trial of UK Athletics to select athletes to represent Great Britain in the IAAF/IAU 100km World Championships in Italy on April 22.

The 35,35 mile course was held on roads around the Cotswold villages of Temple Guiting, Kineton and Barton. It consisted of four hilly laps during which athletes had to climb and descend over 1,000m which is nearly the height of Snowdon.

The best of the British ‘Ultra’ runners lined-up and, amongst the favourites in the womens race Harrison, set off with favourite, Emily Gelder from Dulwich Harriers.

The pair ran together for just three miles before Harrison slowly pulled away.

Running comfortably just inside seven minute miling pace, the Leamington athlete, who is supported by the Warwickshire Golf and Country Club and Warwick Sports, slowly pulled away.

By the end of the first lap just six men were ahead of Harrison and she had a three minute gap on Gelder.

The field was widely spread and for nearly all the second lap Harrison was running on her own.

After lap two her lead over Gelder had widened to eight minutes and on the third circuit she started lapping some of the slower runners.

Passing the marathon point at 26 miles in about 3-02, Harrison’s pace was still around the seven minute miling and she started the final lap with a 12 minute advantage.

With Great Britain selection at stake, Harrison continued her relentless progress throughout the final 9 mile lap and finally crossed the finishing line in 4-06.15.

Just three men had managed to beat her with the Newbury AC’s Andrew James winning the men’s race in 3-50.07.

Gelder hung on to second place to finish in 4-23.03, some 17 minutes behind Harrison with Karren Rushton from SW Vets a close third in 4-24.32.

The first three ladies, all current Great Britain ‘Ultra Distance’ internationals, will have to wait until the selectors meet on March 6 to see if they have done enough to wear the GB vest in the 2012 World Championships.

It is perhaps a shame for Harrison that 100km is not in the Olympic Games in which the Marathon (42km) is the longest distance.

A delgihted Harrison said:”That was probably the toughest race I have ever done in this country. I find racing up hills is tough but trying to race down them is even worse.

At times it was so cold I couldn’t feel my hands. However, it will all have been worth it if I am selected for my second World Championships.”

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