Domestic showdown as duo bid to better near misses

Jacob O'Hara. Picture: Paul Smith

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GREAT SOUTH RUN near misses will be fuelling the fire of the women’s field in this year’s race.

Charlotte Purdue and Gemma Steel will be battling it out in the world’s biggest 10-miler at an event they know well.

Gemma Steel, left, and Charlotte Purdue, right, alongside Chris Thompson and Claire Lomas Picture: Malcolm Wells

Gemma Steel, left, and Charlotte Purdue, right, alongside Chris Thompson and Claire Lomas Picture: Malcolm Wells

Both athletes have taken on the streets of Portsmouth and Southsea plenty of times before.

Steel has bitter-sweet memories, after building up a long association with a race she has an affinity with.

But the frustration of being beaten in a sprint finish by Ethiopian Belaynesh Oljira in 2014 is still prominent for the Leicester athlete.

That provided the motivation to deliver European Cross Country Championship glory in Bulgaria back then.

Now the 31-year-old is motivated to go one better this weekend

Steel said: ‘My first time here was back in 2010. I’m looking forward to this year and being back in Portsmouth.

‘I still can remember being beaten in a sprint finish.

‘That does still grate with me a little bit, but I learnt from my mistake for the European Cross Country Championships and didn’t want the same thing to happen again.

‘These things happen for a reason, but at the time it really, really hurt.

‘I had to take it on the chin.

‘But, hopefully, this time I can give it that extra bit which can make a difference.’

Purdue has a third-place finish under her belt in the race back in 2013.

That saw her cross the line as the highest-placed Brit in a strong international field.

After finishing 13th in the marathon at the World Championships, the Hampshire athlete has confidence over what she can achieve.

Purdue said: ‘It’s a British-only field and will be good to battle it out.

‘I feel pretty good and training is going well.

‘I finished 13th in the marathon at the World Championships.

‘I’ve had a bit of a break and then got back into racing at the Great Scottish Run. Now I want to keep the momentum going.

‘This is my fourth time here at a good race with good crowds.

‘You don’t often get to run 10 miles.

‘I’ve finished third here in an international field, so that’s pretty good. There were two Kenyans and I was first Brit.

‘The last time I was back after injury and finished seventh.

‘So now it’s a good opportunity to get a win under my belt.’