Fionnuala Britton has targeted her best ever finish in the World Cross Country Championships in March after she won the Great Edinburgh Cross Country race with another brilliant performance today.
Britton’s time of 20:40 was 16 seconds quicker than runner-up Adrienne Herzog, with a late slip by the Irish athlete providing a scare, but she recovered to comfortably secure victory.
Mattie Suver was third and there was another encouraging performance by Linda Byrne who finished sixth.
Byrne’s run was of the highest quality and was only inches behind European Cross Country silver medallist Anna Dulce Felix of Portugal, who placed fifth.
Britton told RTÉ Radio 1's Saturday Sport: "It is nice to get a win. It was hard enough because I suppose I felt pressure really going into it because after the Europeans and running this race last year, I knew I was under pressure to defend my title.
"The tactic was to sit in from the start but nobody else seemed interested to take up the pace and we weren’t running quick enough.
"So I said I would stay at the front until we get over the first logs anyway because it is always good to come to obstacles with a clear view. At that point the race started to break up.
"I knew if I kept pushing on form there that the group would be smaller and it would be easier to work from them on. It went from there really."
"Nobody else seemed interested to take up the pace and we weren’t running quick enough" - Fionnuala Britton
Britton’s scintillating form in the European Championships in Hungary, coupled with today’s win, has raised hopes for March’s competition in Poland.
The Wicklow runner is keen to break new ground in Bydgoszcz.
“It is hard to know with Christmas and New Year and how time goes by so slowly at Christmas. You do panic when you come to a big race like this if you are actually ready for it.
"So it was a nice confidence booster and it is going on into the rest of the cross country season up to the end of March.
"It is not for another few months at this stage so it kind of hard to tell but I suppose you need to push on from here and improve even more to compete against the Africans is always tough. It is a positive start to the New Year anyway.
"My best position before was 14th so top 10 anyway is what you’re aiming for but really it is just to be in the mix and run the best on the day that you can.
"Sometimes it is hard that if you get cut off from a group at the start you can end up running a race on your own.
"So the main thing is to hang in there with as many as the top girls as possible and hope for the best I suppose.”