Andy Vernon happy to mix it up for Great Edinburgh Cross Country

Andy Vernon is looking forward to take on the USA and Europe
Andy Vernon is looking forward to take on the USA and Europe
Stokes Bay junior parkrun. Picture: Chris Moorhouse

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ANDY VERNON is on the up as he prepares for his first Great Britain outing of the year on Saturday.

The televised Great Edinburgh XCountry race always provides some top class competition and is well attended with big crowds.

It’s a tough team event with GB against a strong European select team and the might of the USA.

Vernon, from Fareham, is making good progress with his return from injury as he builds ahead to the Commonwealth Games.

The Aldershot, Farnham & District athlete sealed the top British Athletics Cross Challenge points at the Antrim International in Northern Ireland on Saturday. He was first British finisher and fourth overall in a high-class race.

Now he’s looking forward to trying to help GB to team glory at the Edinburgh event in Holyrood Park.

He said: ‘I’m on the up and I’m happy with what I am doing in training.

‘I’ve had a couple of races in the past two weekends. The first one was not so good but the second one was better.

‘On New Year’s Eve I raced in Italy and it just wasn’t a good day for me.

‘It’s a very slow 10k. It’s eight laps on cobbles and it was slippery. There was 41 almost right-angle corners so you don’t get the rhythm.

‘Then I went to Northern Ireland for the UK Cross Challenge and that went much better.

‘I like the Great Edinburgh XCountry. It’s a good race. It’s a bit different and sometimes the sport needs that sort of thing that gets you away from the normal format.

‘You get so much support there and I have friends in Scotland who will come down to watch which is nice.

‘The British team is kind of on the back foot because it’s like one country versus a continent, or it’s almost like racing two continents really with Europe and the USA.

‘We will hold our own as much as we can but it’s hard to win the overall team prize.’

Overall winners will be determined by the best aggregate finishing positions of the six best placed athletes in the senior category, and the four best placed athletes in the junior races.

Vernon was disappointed to be left at home as reserve for the European Cross Country Championships.

Instead of racing he had to watch the action unfold when he felt he could have helped the team.

He said: ‘I wouldn’t have been at my very, very best but I would have definitely been good enough to help the team to get a gold medal rather than the bronze they got.

‘The thing that frustrated me was they took two people who were carrying injuries and I was at home fit and healthy. They both beat me in the trial but they were carrying injuries and one dropped out of the race.

‘I was registered to run. All they needed to do was fly me out there.

‘The course for the Europeans was like a field in summer. It was totally different to the trials and it would have suited me more at that stage.’

The elite races take place after the mass participation Simplyhealth Great Edinburgh Winter Run when 3,000 runners run a 5k course around Arthur’s Seat.