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Mitch looks at home in top company

PUBLISHED: 07:30 11 January 2010 | UPDATED: 07:20 02 July 2010

Tim Ash

The world's best cross country runners gathered at Edinburgh's snow covered Holyrood Park on Saturday. The line-up in the Bupa International Cross Country meeting included three of the City of Norwich Athletic Club's rising stars that had competed successfully in the recent European Championships.

The world's best cross country runners gathered at Edinburgh's snow covered Holyrood Park on Saturday.

The line-up in the Bupa International Cross Country meeting included three of the City of Norwich Athletic Club's rising stars that had competed successfully in the recent European Championships.

Mitch Goose, currently in the form of his life was invited to compete in the short course race over 4.2 km and performed well to finish in fifth position.

With Mo Farah in the strong field the pace was never going be pedestrian and so it proved to be. Racing over three laps, Goose admitted that he was never totally comfortable in the snowy conditions but nevertheless was always in contention within the leading group.

At the start of the third lap and final lap Steve Vernon and Ricky Stevenson, with Goose trying to hang on in fourth place, had clawed back Farah's early lead. In an exciting climax it proved to be Stevenson's day, out-gunning Vernon and Farah in the final 300m.

Goose was hanging on to fourth spot but despite digging deep was out sprinted by Olympian Tom Lancashire just short of the line. He had the consolation of another Olympian, Andy Baddeley, following him home.

For the diminutive Hollie Rowland it proved to be a long and arduous journey to the Scottish capital. Leaving her home base in Germany on Wednesday by overnight ferry, followed by a prolonged train journey from Norwich, proved not be the best preparation for a race against the Olympic 5000m and 10000m champion, the incredible Tirunesh Debaba.

Competing over the four-lap 5.8km course in conditions not suited to her, Rowland battled gamely throughout to finish in 14th place. There is no doubt that a fresher Rowland in different conditions would have been a comfortable top ten finisher.

When you come against Ethiopia's Kenenisa Bekele and associated Kenyans you know that life is going to be tough.

For Ashley Harrell to be lining up with such world-class athletes was a wonderful experience that proved, as he expected, a daunting task. The African athletes dominated the race, covering a snowy 9km with Kenyans filling the first three places while Bekele was relegated to a disappointing fourth place finish. Harrell never looked out of place in this class field and he can be pleased with his 17th finishing position.

Goose has come on in leaps and bounds over the past 12 months and for sure will continue to impress the Great Britain selectors in the year ahead when he will be looking to greatly improve his track performances.

For Rowland and Harrell, the City club's most recent Great Britain representatives, they are still making their mark at international level but will have greatly benefited from the opportunity of competing against the world's best.

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