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Keith Gerrard 59th in Europe – GB take silver medals

A record number of athletes (539) entered the SPAR European Cross Country Championships in Budapest, Hungary which was held on Sunday despite significant travel problems arising as a result of a fire at Budapest Airport on Friday.

The 36-strong Aviva Great Britain and Northern Ireland team, due to arrive late on Friday afternoon, eventually arrived at the team hotel in Budapest at 1am on Saturday following an epic journey from the UK via Vienna, in Austria.

Manxman Keith Gerrard, the English National & Inter Counties Cross Country Champion, was a part of that British team and it was as a team player that he was there.  THe night before the race he said that he had not really given himself an individual expectation: "I’m just going to get stuck in with the other British guys and see what I can get from it. We have a very strong and experienced team this year, and I feel very proud to be here running as part of it. A couple of months ago I had  put the Euro Cross to the back of my mind, but a positive month in Kenya helped me turn that one around. I’ve had a really good 2012, and this is a great way to finish the year."

The team inspected the course on Saturday and Keith said: "It is an interesting one. It’s run around an open air museum park and seems to be very twisty and narrow in many places. At one point we run through an open barn, and there are even one or two logs to negotiate. Added to that, the ground is completely snow covered today, so it’s going to be tough running."

On the eve of his final big race of 2012 Keith confirmed to manxathletics.com that he will almost certainly attempt to retain his National Cross Country tile.  He is also aiming to run a 10,000m in the early summer. "I’d like to get a couple a blocks of altitude training in before this. After that, we will see where things are, it’s difficult to set plans in stone."

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