Rhayader runner Tom Marshall created history at the European Athletics Cross Country Championships in Samorin, Slovakia, anchoring Great Britain to gold in the inaugural mixed relay event on Sunday, December 10.
Marshall, who was drafted in at short notice as a late replacement for the injured Charlie Grice, made the most of his opportunity to run home for Team GB just ahead of the Czech Republic’s 2015 European indoor 1,500m champion, Jakub Holusa, in a thrilling finale to the championships.
Great Britain’s team of Melissa Courtney, Cameron Boyek, Sarah McDonald and Marshall found themselves back in third place at the first changeover with Simona Vrzalova out in front for the Czech Republic ahead of Spain's Solange Andreia Pereira, but a storming second leg from Boyek put Great Britain in the driving seat as the rest of the field were broken by what proved to be the leading trio.
Boyek handed on to McDonald with a slender lead over the Czech Republic and Spain but a gritty run from the Birchfield Harriers runner extended Great Britain’s lead to four seconds from the Czech Republic’s Kristiina Maki at the final changeover and it was over to Marshall for the finishing leg and his race to lose.
Marshall maintained the lead for GB over the early stages of the lap, and with 300 metres to go had to dig deep as he faced a late surge from Holusa and Spain’s Gomez as they neared the line, but the Cardiff AAC man held on to secure gold for Great Britain in the final event of the weekend.
“I wanted to win this so badly. Coming back up that home straight, there was no way I was going to let anyone past me,” said a delighted Marshall, who crossed the line one second ahead of nearest rival Holusa.
“By the time it got to Sarah (McDonald) I knew we had this as we were so far away ahead and the team had done a phenomenal job. The nerves had calmed down by that point.”