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Reebok Challenge: Birmingham

6th November 2003:




Emily Pidgeon opened her cross country season in style with an emphatic victory in the Reebok Challenge at Birmingham's Senneleys Park.

Gloucester AC's 14-year-old British junior international dominated the Under-15 race over the rolling course to win by 33 seconds from Kirsty Hamilton with Danielle Walker third.
"It was Emily's first cross country race since the English Schools' Championships last spring," said coach David Farrow.

"She led almost from gun to tape and it was a good work-out for her and she now has four wins from four at Birmingham."

Pidgeon's Gloucester training partner Sarah Hopkinson, the latest talent to emerge from Farrow's coaching group, came within inches of making it a memorable double in the Under-13 race. She was only beaten by young rival Eilish McColgan.

But in the early stages of the race Hopkinson and Lucy McLoughlin left McColgan - being enthusiastically supported by her mother - trailing as they surged clear of the field.

By halfway they were 100m clear but then McLoughlin, who was ranked number one last winter, inexplicably dropped out leaving Hopkinson on her own.

"It was very difficult for Sarah to be out there in the lead on her own having fought such a battle with McLoughlin," added Farrow.

"McColgan then had her in her sights and just caught her on the line.

"I liken Sarah's performance a bit to a boxer having to fight two opponents in one contest. It was really tough for her but she'll be better equipped for the next Reebok race in Liverpool."

The gutsiest performance came from Ben Coldray in the Under-13 boys' 3,000m race. Running against boys up to two years his elder, and in his first race of this class, he stuck to his task admirably and went from sixth place to snatch fourth on the line with a spirited sprint to finish in 12.31.

The Under-20 ladies' race was a high class field, including European Junior Championship medallists Laura Kenney and Dani Barnes.

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