St Mary’s-based Dan­ish star heads to Euro Cross

DAN­ISH RUN­NER AT ST MARY’S HEADS TO TIL­BURG WITH HIGH HOPES

Athletics Weekly - - Contents -

THE Bri­tish squad in Til­burg this week are not the only UK-based ath­letes poised to make an im­pact at the Euro­pean Cross Coun­try Cham­pi­onships. Anna Em­i­lie Møller is a stu­dent run­ner at St Mary’s Univer­sity in Twick­en­ham where she is coached by Mick Woods and the 21-year-old will be rep­re­sent­ing Den­mark at

Sun­day’s big event, writes

Ja­son Hen­der­son.

Møller has been in great form al­ready this win­ter. In Oc­to­ber she won the women’s race at the Cross Chal­lenge in Cardiff. Novem­ber saw her take the Nordic ti­tle in Ice­land. On the IAAF cross-coun­try cir­cuit, she fin­ished run­ner-up to Kenyan Glo­ria Kite in So­ria, Spain.

“It’s go­ing to be ex­cit­ing,” says Møller on Sun­day’s Euro Cross (pre­view, p54-57). “I’m look­ing for­ward to it as it’s been my main goal so far this win­ter.”

In ad­di­tion, Møller has the po­ten­tial thrill of rac­ing in an

IAAF World Cross Coun­try Cham­pi­onships on home soil on March 30. Den­mark’s sec­ond city of Aarhus is hold­ing the event on a tough, un­du­lat­ing course that in­cludes run­ning up a grassy hill of a Vik­ing mu­seum, plus through thick mud, wa­ter and sand.

“I’ve been to Aarhus plenty of times but ob­vi­ously not run over the roof of the mu­seum or any­thing like that yet,” she says. “It’s a three-hour drive from where I live in Den­mark but it will still seem like ‘home’ and I hope to have plenty of sup­port dur­ing the race.”

On the course, she adds:

“I like it when it’s hilly, dif­fi­cult and chal­leng­ing. It’s good that it’s go­ing to be on a real crosscoun­try course.”

Møller is pre­par­ing for these races in south Lon­don. She was raised on the out­skirts of Copen­hagen with wood­land and forests just me­tres from her doorstep, but so far she is en­joy­ing the St Mary’s ex­pe­ri­ence.

“The area is new to me but I am en­joy­ing it,” she ex­plains. “I like the sur­round­ings and the en­vi­ron­ment. The parks are also good to run in.”

On the UK cross-coun­try scene, she says: “It’s good and ‘se­ri­ous’ with so many cross-coun­try run­ners. It’s a big coun­try and there are many events. At Cardiff there were races for all the age groups and it cre­ated a nice at­mos­phere.”

Møller is a rel­a­tively late starter in ath­let­ics. As a teenager she ex­celled in bas­ket­ball and played for her na­tional team from un­der-14 to un­der-18 level. But in March 2014, aged 16, she did a 10km race and beat all the girls and boys in the field with a time of 35:11 – fall­ing only 20 sec­onds short of the Dan­ish un­der-18 record.

“Peo­ple told me I should start run­ning,” she re­mem­bers, “but I was fo­cused on bas­ket­ball at the time and I just ran for fun.”

She con­tin­ues: “After that sum­mer I started col­lege (or ‘gym­na­sium’ as it is called in Den­mark) for four years and in my first year I played elite bas­ket­ball but also started train­ing with a run­ning club in Septem­ber, mainly for fun and do­ing one ses­sion a week on a day when I wasn’t do­ing bas­ket­ball.

“I made it to the Nordic Cham­pi­onships and Euro­peans. Then I found it dif­fi­cult to de­cide which sport to do as I wanted to do both.”

She adds: “In the end it be­came a nat­u­ral choice as my bas­ket­ball team kind of fell apart. Some play­ers and the coach stopped. I wanted to try some­thing new and ex­cit­ing and be­gan to do more run­ning.”

Some might pre­fer a fun team sport like bas­ket­ball to the painful pur­suit of dis­tance run­ning, but Møller says: “Bas­ket­ball is still tough and in­tense. And now I re­ally en­joy run­ning.”

Out­side cross coun­try, Møller is a world-class steeplechaser on the track. This year she ran 9:31.66, for ex­am­ple, to place sev­enth in the Euro­pean Cham­pi­onships in Berlin.

De­spite not turn­ing 22 un­til next sum­mer she has al­ready com­peted at the Olympics, be­ing knocked out in the heats in Rio two years ago.

She placed fifth in the World Un­der-20 Cham­pi­onships two years ago and was fourth in the IAAF Con­ti­nen­tal Cup this year.

In ad­di­tion, she is the reign­ing Euro­pean un­der-23 cham­pion – tak­ing gold in By­d­goszcz in 2017 – and will de­fend her ti­tle in Swe­den next July.

The IAAF World Cham­pi­onships in Doha is an­other tar­get – an event that takes place so late in 2019, it’s vir­tu­ally in the cross-coun­try sea­son!

Queen of Cardiff: Anna Em­i­lie Møller beat many lead­ing Brits at the Cross Chal­lenge in Oc­to­ber

Cross ta­lent and Euro U23 steeple­chase champ: Anna Em­i­lie Møller

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