Fionnuala Britton stole the show at Sunday’s GloHealth Inter County cross country championship and declared her aim to win a third European cross country title.
“I have got to believe that I am going better than last year” insisted the 30-year-old Wicklow woman who made her marathon debut in August.
“I can’t compare this year with 2011 or 2012, as I’ve had a different build up,” explained Britton. “I’ve ran a lot of mixed road races.”
“I was nervous on Sunday as I hadn’t run much cross country” explained Britton. “I wanted to sit in but I felt it was going too slow.”
Britton certainly took off just after half way of the first of eight laps, opening a 40 metre lead after the first two-kilometre lap.
A similar performance gave Britton, last year’s Irish championship, winning by over 60 seconds, yet she wouldn’t compare both performances.
“I can’t compare the performances,” explained Britton. “Which is nice in a way, I don’t like looking back, it allows me to go in positive.”
The European cross country championship takes place on December 14 in Samokov, 55 kilometres Southwest of Bulgaria’s capital Sofia, with the race taking place 1,000 meters above sea level.
Britton laughed off any suggestion of issues with the expected heavy snow in Samokov pointing to her 2012 win in frost bitten Budapest.
“I can’t really say I’m not a fan of the snow” joked Britton. “I skipped through it in Budapest, I’m not that big a fan of the cold though.”
“I went into 2012 and people were saying that the previous year’s win had been a fluke,” revealed Britton. “There was only one place I could finish after that.”
“Three weeks out from the championship and I’m not nervous yet and I’m happy where I am at, but I’ll start to second guess myself.”
“That will starting getting me nervous, its hard to but yourself back in the shoes of where I was two or three years ago”.
“I think I’m in a good place, but you can never be sure, you just have to believe” said Britton determinately.
Britton’s new approach has surprised some observers, though she was quick to point out those expected in the mix in Bulgaria haven’t raced much.
“There’s the usual challenge from Portugal and France, there’s a couple of African’s moving into Europe now, cross country is a short season and no one is really showing their hand.”
Britton led the Irish team to gold, as she claimed her second European title in 2012 and has hopes for a team podium position next month.
“The girls behind me (Michelle Finn, Laura Crowe) bunched very well, that’s important for the Euro’s” explained Britton. “We’ll need to replicate that performance.”
Fionnuala Britton wraps up her preparations for the European cross country championship at the international cross de L’acier race in France on Sunday.
“That will be a good test” smiled Britton. “There’s some good Europeans and African’s, it’s good to race against girls I won’t be racing in Bulgaria.”
— By Dave Hooper