Steph Twell (Aldershot, Farnham & District) proved she is more than ready for the step up from junior level as she triumphed in the senior women’s race at the opening meeting of the McCain UK Cross Challenge Series in Gatshead on Saturday.
The 19 year old is targeting a third successive junior women’s title at the European Cross Country Championships in Brussels next month, before stepping into the seniors in 2009. But at a windy Gateshead, the World Junior 1500m gold medallist looked well equipped to make the jump, running a mature race to defeat a strong domestic field.
Louise Damen (Winchester & District) led in the early stages, but on the third of the five lap race, Twell emerged from the charging pack and spurted clear. From that point there was no catching the fleet-footed youngster, but Damen stayed strong and in the end was only four seconds adrift of Twell’s winning time of 26:46.
Former European Cross champion Hayley Yelling (Windsor, Slough, Eton & Hounslow) was third in 27:08, with Scots duo Laura Kenny (Royal Sutton Coldfield) and Freya Murray (Chester le Street) fourth and fifth.
Afterwards, Twell said: “I really enjoyed it. I thought it was a really good race. I judged it well I moved through the field. I worked the hills and I’m really pleased.”
Damen said: “I’ve already done a couple of lower key league races and this was my first one of the season. It was kind of a warm up race for the trials and I’m really looking forward them.” She commented, looking towards the European Trials in Liverpool two weeks hence.
Full results will appear at www.ukathletics.net