Going into the Trials my aim was to make the team as the qualification was top 6 past the post to qualify for the Euro’s, but as I had only been back training for 5 weeks beforehand, I knew it would be a tough ask. The conditions were awful, it was a mud bath and probably the muddiest I have ever raced in. The race started off fast as anticipated and I sat in about 15th place. I slowly worked my way through the field, going through bad stages and good stages. I felt really strong throughout the whole race and with about 800m to go found myself in 2nd place and in my last mile increased the pace and was gaining ground but not quite enough to beat the winner! I was really pleased with my performance at Liverpool- it gave me a lot of confidence going into the European cross country where I knew it would a faster course which would suit me even more!
Two weeks later the GB team flew out to Budapest. We had been warned about the severely cold temperatures but nothing could prepare you for what we faced. It was dangerously cold conditions with temperatures reaching around -10 degrees!
The journey to Budapest wasn’t the smoothest either. There was a fire at the control room at Budapest airport and they weren’t allowing any flights to land there, which meant that we flew to Vienna instead and then got a coach to Budapest which was another 2 hours. We didn’t end up arriving to the hotel until 1.00am. Luckily we had a day of chilling out and checking out the course, it was covered in snow, which made it firm under foot, suiting my style of running.
When race day came it was so cold I had to wear something under my vest together with hat and gloves. In a recent interview I said that I never like to wear anything under my vest because I feel like I’m in training however I was advised strongly by the doctor and physio’s that my performance could be impacted if I didn’t keep warm so I took their advice. The course was fast with a few hills and lots of downhill so I knew I had to get off to a good start. I started off in the top 10 and wanted to keep the leaders as close as possible because I knew gaps could appear easily from watching other races. That’s the way it stayed for most of the race, with the leaders getting away with about 1500m to go, and myself putting in a surge to 5th place at one point which gave me a sniff of a medal, however it was not to be because on the last downhill sprint 4 people came past me and I had hit the wall. I came in at 9th place, which was still a good run as before the race Jon had said a top 10 performance he would be thrilled with, especially as cross country is not my forte! The GB team came away with a team bronze which was nice, although a little annoying we didn’t win gold as there was only 3 points in it!