WARRINGTON’S newest international says she was helped to reach her ambition of running for Great Britain by a coach that died before watching her race on a global stage.
Katie Brough realised her dream in Saturday’s BUPA Great Edinburgh Cross Country Challenge, dedicating afterwards her achievement to Mike Hancock following his death last month.
“I feel like I have done it for him, in a way,” said the former Bridgewater High School pupil.
“When I went to the hospice a few days before Mike passed away, I told him that I was going to get the vest whatever happened.
“It is sad that he died before we knew, as he played a huge part in me reaching that goal.”
Brough – who made a return to competitive running after the birth of her three-year-old son Matthew following an eight-years hiatus – teamed up with Hancock and long-term coach Bert Quennell in May last year.
Together they hoped the 30-year-old could surpass her previous highest honour of representing England as a junior.
There were times when the Stockton Heath runner wondered if it was worth the pain and sacrifice, but Quennell’s guiding hand and Hancock’s unwaivering belief helped her through the doubt.
She said: “There were times when I would go running and just cry, thinking ‘Why am I doing this?’ “When I was struggling I kept my mind on that GB vest, and Mike and Bert were the key to helping me.
"I also couldn't have done it without my husband and my parents.
"The support they have given me throughout my training has been so important, I wouldn't be here without them."
She finished 27th in a field of world class athletes, completing the 6km course in 22mins 25secs to rank behind GB team captain and Olympic 5,000m and 10,000m eighth-placer Julia Bleasdale.
Fionnuala Britton, from Ireland, was the race winner.
Brough travels next to Antrim, where she represents England in the UKA McCain Cross Challenge.