Capital runner Emily Stewart (Edinburgh AC) gave herself an early 21st birthday present when she beat European Under-23 champion Jess Coulson (Stockport) to finish first Briton in the Lotto Cross Country Cup in Brussels yesterday.
Newcastle University student Stewart, who is 21 today, was seventh in a top-quality field, covering the six kilometres course in 21 mins 37 secs to finish 27 seconds clear of Coulson who, in addition to the European cross title she won in Hungary earlier this month, also won the Great Edinburgh 10k road race in October.
“It was a nice way to see off my last day of being 20 years old and makes up for all our luggage being lost on the way to Belgium,” said Emily, who travelled with her mother Rose to the Belgian airport of Charleroi.
Twice European senior champion Finnuala Britton (Ireland) was second in 20:51, just three seconds behind Aga Ruti of Ethiopia with another Ethiopian Elini Gebrinoth third in 21:20.
Stewart’s coach Ian Whyte, who was disappointed when she had to drop out of the European trial race in Liverpool last month, said: “That’s a fairly decent run – it’s just about where Emily should be at this stage – she led the charge of the chasing group.”