In his latest 2012 diary, long distance runner Michael Hobson reports on the European Cross Country Championships in Dublin.
November & December diary 2009
For many, the months of November and December became increasingly orientated around one day; December 13th.
With the a shift in power in distance running from Europe to East Africa during the past two decades the European cross country championships has become the focal point of many an aspiring cross country runner's season.
This can be attributed to a more realistic chance of winning medals both in the team and individual events across the age groups: Something at which British teams have acquitted themselves well at year upon year.
For the most part selection for all age group teams male and female was based upon the trial race staged at Liverpool's Sefton Park two weekends before the Championships in Dublin.
The inevitably muddy and cold affair always proves entertaining throwing up a few surprises; none more so than the winner of this year's men's race Michael Skinner.
Michael who is the Competition manager for the Richmond and Kingston School Sports Partnership had shown the form of his life going in to the race, having recorded the fastest leg of the English National Cross Country relays a few weeks earlier.
However, it was still a shock to many when Skinner successfully outsprinted Teddington based Moumin Geele. Geele only having recently became a British Citizen, was ineligible for selection for Dublin, however will be hoping to be represent Great Britain in future events.
As usual, the team selection of senior men's team was surrounded by controversy; with two US based athletes selected off performances on the road in races shorter than the 10km athletes were required to race in Dublin. Inevitably, much debate across online forums followed with UKA's selection policy coming under much scrutiny from fellow athletes and enthusiasts alike.
Despite all the controversies around team selection the British team's performance in Dublin was fairly successful. With all six of the British Teams taking either silver or gold medals across the age groups. Despite the team success the outstanding performance of the day had to be that of Hayley Yelling.
Yelling, who had only came out of retirement a few weeks before the trial, hit the front early on and never looked back, finishing seven seconds ahead of her nearest competitor Rosa Morato of Spain.
Aside from Yelling's performance the British team took individual medals in every age group bar the Under 23 men where Mitch Goose put in a good performance to be Britain's highest finish in 5th.
Surprise medallist in the junior and Under 23 events came from Birmingham University duo James Wilkinson and Nick Goolab, and St Mary's own Jess Spark who overcame her long time injury problems to snatch a bronze medal.
With only two years time until London hosts the greatest show on earth it will be intriguing to see whether these competitors can use the experience gained in Dublin and Liverpool to springboard their career, and put themselves on that start line in Stratford.