Racing: Durham can be stepping stone for Radcliffe

Many have been called but two too few have chosen to run in today's international cross-country event at Durham. But the fields remain stronger, Mike Rowbottom reports

Britain's top cross-country exponents, Paula Radcliffe and Jon Brown, return to domestic action at today's Durham international event seeking to establish their credentials as potential medallists this season.

Radcliffe, second in last year's World Championships, is chasing a third victory in this event. The British 5,000 metres record holder feels she can strike gold in either the Commonwealth Games or European Championships this season.

"Winning is important for me, but I also have to look to the long term," said Radcliffe, who has missed the Durham race only once since the IAAF World Cross Challenge event began in 1988.

Radcliffe's outstanding performance at the World Championships in Turin, where she missed adding the senior title to the junior version she earned in 1992 by a matter of a few yards, has seen her become far more particular about her racing calendar.

"For that event I got my preparations absolutely right," she said. "I restricted my competitive programme, went to altitude training, then won a silver medal.''

After Durham, she will compete in Belfast on 24 January and Tourcoing in France a week later before training in the altitude of New Mexico.

Her task today on a tough, undulating course overlooking Durham cathedral will be far from straightforward.

She faces the world 10,000 metres champion, Sally Barsosio of Kenya, and Catherina McKiernan, the highly experienced Irishwoman who has won a four world cross-country silver medals and will make her domestic marathon debut in London this spring after becoming the fastest woman debutant at the event in October.

A further challenge on a mud-bound course could come from Irina Mikitenko, of Khazakstan, who is now based in Germany.

"There's no way I'll be underestimating anybody," Radcliffe said. "Barsosio can be indifferent, but McKiernan's past record is proof of her ability, whatever the conditions.''

Brown, who chose not to defend his European title last month, has always planned to include Durham in his schedule - but the same cannot be said for the leading names the organisers have attempted to bring to the field.

Earlier this week Kenya's world 3,000m steeplechase champion, Wilson Boit Kipketer, rendered himself ineligible after failing to pick up a visa that had been made ready for him at the British Embassy in Nairobi.

And yesterday it was confirmed that the man who was to have taken Kipketer's place, the former world champion Khalid Skah, had withdrawn at the orders of his national federation.

Thomas Nyariki, Kenya's world bronze medallist, will now provide the main test to the Vancouver-based Brown, who will be running in Sheffield's colours. He will also be challenged by fellow Briton Keith Cullen.

"You have got to expect the unexpected in this game," said a race organiser - rather politely in the circumstances.

Skah was ordered home by the Moroccan Athletic Federation, who host this year's World Championships in March. The Moroccans are keen to end Kenya's domination of the event and want Skah, who lives in Paris, to prepare along with his team-mates.

The Moroccan has twice been the individual cross- country world champion, winning the event in 1990 and '91.

The Durham race organiser, Nigel Gough, said: "Khalid is extremely upset at what is going on and, as a senior international athlete and former Olympic 10,000 metres champion, he just cannot understand why he's being told that he cannot race in Durham or anywhere else."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Life and Style
tech
News
The 67P/CG comet as seen from the Philae lander
scienceThe most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Arts and Entertainment
Ian McKellen as Gandalf in The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies
film
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Koenig, creator of popular podcast Serial, which is to be broadcast by the BBC
tvReview: The secret to the programme's success is that it allows its audience to play detective
News
Ruby Wax has previously written about her mental health problems in her book Sane New World
people
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

Recruitment Genius: Qualified Nursery Practitioner - Sevenoaks

£15000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We currently have an opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Room Leader - Nursery

£17000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We currently have an opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Assessor / Trainer

£25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity to join ...

Ashdown Group: Payroll Manager - London - £200 p/d.

£190 - £200 per day: Ashdown Group: Payroll & Finance Manager - Covent Garden,...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas