St Mary’s-based Danish star heads to Euro Cross
DANISH RUNNER AT ST MARY’S HEADS TO TILBURG WITH HIGH HOPES
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
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