Distance king Richard Morrell’s dream coming true

Hartlepool's Richard Morrell in the front pack of the early stages of the World Cross Country Championships trial, in Birmingham.
Hartlepool's Richard Morrell in the front pack of the early stages of the World Cross Country Championships trial, in Birmingham.
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DELIGHTED distance king Richard Morrell will achieve one of his “lifetime goals” when he pulls on an England vest for the first time next weekend.

But the in-form 25-year-old isn’t just going for the experience and to enjoy the occasion - and insists he will be targeting a win when he makes his international bow at the Home Countries International.

Hartlepool’s Morrell is most at home on the track over the metric mile but given his outstanding start to 2013 on the mud, it was no surprise to see Morrell named in the England team for the race in Wales.

He puts his superb form, which saw him mix it with the very best at the recent mud-soaked National Cross Country championships, down to less miles - but ran at a faster pace - and strength work in the gym.

And he’s acquired the confidence to go with it.

Looking forward to wearing the England vest on the first of hopefully many call-ups, the Morpeth Harrier insisted: “I’m going to go and try and win it, because to be honest I think I can.

“There’s nobody to fear, I know I’m going well and it’s going to be shorter than the races I’ve ran well in recently which I think will play into my favour even more.”

For a man who classes himself at his best over 1500m on the track, he made easy work of the gruelling 12,000metre national course at Sunderland where he ran over the mud as opposed to ploughing through it on his way to an 11th place finish.

And for the majority of the World Cross Country Championships trial at Birmingham last week, Morrell looked like he was going to improve on that with a top 10 finish.

He went with the pace and until he suffered stomach cramps with just over 2k to go was never outside the top 10.

Despite fading to 24th - still a top class performance - Morrell had proved to himself, not that he needed to, that he was in the best shape of his life.

“I was going so well until the last lap when I just got such bad stomach cramps,” he told SportMail.

“It affected me and I went backover but before then I was in ninth place and I felt comfortable and strong.

“I remember racing there in the past when I finished 49th and people were saying to me it’s a good run so to be disappointed with 23rd shows how well things are going.”

His performances didn’t go un-noticed.

Just a couple of days after the race in Birmingham, Morrell got the nod for next week’s international.

“It’s all I’ve ever wanted since I started running,” said Morrell, who lives in Hartlepool’s Bishop Cuthbert estate.

“It’s what everyone wants to do, to represent your country.

“But I will go there and give it a go.”

It’s the time of year to start looking forward to the fast approaching track season.

Morrell has his eyes on the British University Championships and a fast season opener at the Loughborough International.

But before then he is focusing purely on one more big cross country performance as the perfect way to cap off his best ever season.