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Ellis Cross of Aldershot, Farnham & District Athletic Club made a surprise entrance into the world of elite distance running yesterday. The 25-year-old surpassed four-time Olympic Champion Sir Mo Farah to win the London Vitality 10,000 in 28:40, beating Farah by four seconds.
The club runner, who works in Surbiton’s Up & Running shop, had travelled to the event by train and paid £37 for his entry fee, meaning he had a number on his bib rather than his name like the elite runners have. He had hoped to finish in the top five, but on the day found himself tussling with Farah for the lead and outsprinted the 39-year-old four-time Olympic champion on the finishing straight outside Buckingham Palace to cross the line and take victory.
After the race, Farah told the Guardian, ‘It must have been 20 years, at least, since I was beaten by a club runner. But fair credit to him. He was very determined.
‘Some athletes kind of look at you, but he didn’t fear anyone. I think that’s a good attitude to have. The reality is, this is where I am. I look at the race and I couldn’t change gears. I just didn’t have that.’
Cross, who describes himself as a ‘proud club runner’, won the English National U20 cross-country title twice when he was younger, but says he wasn't bothered about his time (he didn’t even wear a watch) in the race, rather that he wanted to run hard and that if he got near the top five ‘it would be an unbelievable run’.
Farah revealed he’s been struggling with injury over the past six months following a stress fracture in his foot and a torn quad that resulted in him taking a three-month break from the sport. However, he refused to blame that for his defeat. ‘I’m just taking one race at a time,’ he said after the race. ‘From today it looks like there’s a lot more work to be done.’
In the women’s field, Eilish McColgan won in 30:23, setting a new Scottish record and coming just two seconds behind Paula Radcliffe’s British and European record set in 2002.
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