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Steel wins battle of Britons

Job done: Steel wins the women’s 10K at the National Stadium (Photograph by Lawrence Trott)

Gemma Steel came out on top in her “cat-and-mouse” game with team-mate Jenny Spink in Saturday’s Bermuda Marathon Weekend elite women’s 10K.

Steel, who has travelled to Bermuda as part of a six-strong England team, finished strongly in a time of 33min 55.64sec, to head a trio of her compatriots across the finish line at the National Stadium.

Jenny Spink came second, closely behind in 34:33.23 while Rebecca Moore was third in 35:41.42.

Steel, the European cross-country champion in 2014, said she aimed to “take the race on” from the start and made her break from Spink at the halfway mark.

“I thought I’d just take the race on and see what I could do, really,” Steel said. “Get the first half in the bank and then just hold on for the win, hopefully.

“I was brave, I probably could have just held on with Jenny and ran with her for a bit longer, but I just took it out on my own. She was chasing me for a while and I was just looking back over my shoulder and thinking, ‘Oh no, I’ve gone a bit too soon and she’ll probably catch me on the hills. It was a bit cat and mouse, really.

“Jenny had me in her sights and I thought she might have reeled me in, but I managed to hold on well.”

Steel, who was first at the British trials for the European Cross Country Championships two months ago, said the second half of the course was tougher than she expected and took her by surprise.

“I wasn’t expecting it to be as tough up the hills,” said Steel, whose 10K best is 31:26.

“I underestimated it a little bit because of the fast downhills at the start of the race.

“The first half is easy, going down the hills. But when you get to mile five it can take its toll on your legs if you’ve gone quite quick down the hills.”

Spink, who hopes to represent Great Britain at next year’s Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast, Australia, praised Steel for opening up a gap after the midway point.

“You always try to win but Gemma is so strong and I have to be pleased with second,” Spink said. “For the first 5K we were close and then she pulled away as the course got tougher.”

Emile Fournel, a Bermudian resident, was the first local woman across the line, finishing 47th in 42:58.3. The 30-year-old is a three-times Olympian, competing for Canada as a sprint kayaker. She moved to the island two years ago as her fiancé, Anders Gustafsson, is a grinder for America’s Cup team, Artemis.

“It’s a beautiful course, a lot of hills and I just moved to Bermuda two years now and I’ve been getting used to the hills,” she said. “I did it last year as it was a good way to get to know everyone.

“I think I beat my time by about ten minutes so I guess knowing the course helped a little bit.”