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Beagles Gerrard trains eyes on 2014 success

PUBLISHED: 16:04 11 December 2013 | UPDATED: 16:04 11 December 2013

Keith Gerrard at the European Cross Country Championships in Belgrade

Keith Gerrard at the European Cross Country Championships in Belgrade

Archant

Keith Gerrard helped Britain win a bronze in the European Cross Country Championships on Sunday, and immediately trained his eyes on targets for 2014.

The Newham and Essex Beagles athlete came 20th on a personal note in a time of 30 minutes and 14 seconds over the Belgrade course, far improved on his 59th-placed finish last year.

The British team came third behind Spain and Belgium, and Gerrard said: “I left everything out on the course. I was delighted with the performance,” he added.

“It was pleasing to finish in the top 20 because that was my minimum target. It was a very flat and firm course and there was a relentless, fast pace.

“I prefer more hilly terrain but it would have been nice to finish in the top 15. I’d have needed to finish out of my skin to make the top 10.

“You could say it’s horses for courses and I might have placed higher if the conditions had been a little bit different.”

The Serbian race was the last of the year for Gerrard and he’s now off home to the Isle of Man to spend Christmas with his family.

But it will back to the grind in the new year for the 27-year-old, with the Edinburgh Cross Country International in January and the National Cross Country Championships the following month.

Then it’s on to the track season, although he says he wants to run a half-marathon early next year, possibly New York.

Gerrard said: “I’m looking to run the 10,000m for the Isle of Man at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

“The 5,000m is a possibility but I’ll probably stick to the event I know best.

“I’ll find out in April if I’m in the team but I’ve already met the qualifying time so I expect to be.”

And what are his realistic expectations for the event in Glasgow?

Gerrard came ninth in last year’s European Championships in Helsinki, where he ran an excellent time of 28:57.97 to be the quickest British finisher in the absence of Beagles team-mate Mo Farah, who concentrated on the 5,000m.

But the Commonwealth Games are likely to be a tougher challenge altogether with some strong African competitors getting involved.

“It’s difficult to say what a realistic target is. If I can be competitive and a credit to the Isle of Man then that would be a good achievement,” said Gerrard.

“The 10,000m is always a deep event in the Commonwealth Games. The likes of Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania are always in and around the medals, so anything in single fingers would be brilliant. Top 12 would still be a decent result.”

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