Battling performances by the Irish women’s team of Fionnuala Britton, (14th), Mary Cullen, (27th), Linda Byrne, (32nd), Ava Hutchinson, (42nd) and Lizzie Lee, (70th) brought the European Champions home in fifth position in yesterday’s World Cross Country Championships in Bydgoszcz, Poland.
The Irish women combined well to finish top European team behind Kenya, (19 Points)m Ethiopia, (48), Barhain, (73) and USA, (90). The four top Irish runners finished with 115 points-seven points clear of France and thirty nine points of Great Britain.
Fionnuala Britton was a little disappointed with her own 14th placing, but the Wicklow woman ran with her usual spirit and commitment over what was an extremely difficult course.
Britton briefly took the lead on the opening lap when the pace slowed and she found a severe downhill stretch on each of the four laps to be particularly difficult. “I could not fault the course, “Britton said. “It was a testing course, but real cross country.”
The course in Bydgoszcz was especially challenging- and runners had to negotiate a short but severe climb towards the end of each lap-immediately followed by a steep descent.
The Irish women all battled hard from the start and they have good reason to be happy with their fifth team placing. “This was another special Irish women’s team performance, “Irish Team Manager, Teresa McDaid said. “I am very proud of how all of the team ran and to finish as top team in Europe is a very positive result and something that we can build on.”
The race was won in a sprint finish by Emily Chebet of Kenya who came home in 24:24 ahead of Hiwot Ayalew of Ettiopia, 24:27 and Belaynesh Oljira, (Ethiopia), 24:33. The Irish women packed well. Fionnuala Britton finished in 25:08, Mary Cullen, 25:42, Linda Byrne, 25:49, Ava Hutchinson, 25:59 and Lizzie Lee posted 26:55.