Exciting racing despite low temperatures in the Low Countries

Plummeting temperatures and icy winds courtesy of the Beast from the East did not deter runners taking part in the highly regarded Parelloop 10k in Brunssum, Netherlands.

Elite athletes from across Europe and from Eastern Africa assembled in the small Dutch mining town for this established community and elite racing event which was celebrating its 30th year.

In 2016 an early April fixture date saw runners competing in a warm 22 degrees, but yesterday temperatures were sub-zero with a chill wind making conditions challenging. Nonetheless, England’s Sam Stabler (Club: Wreake & Soar AC, Coach: Rob Denmark) set a new 10k personal best on the road in a time of 29:09. Stabler got off to a strong start with tight-knit leading pack. The gently undulating two lap course through the streets of Brunssum is fast, but technically and tactically challenging with a few narrow sections of the course where the pack jostled for position.

With around 2.5k to go Stabler was starting to drift a little off the leading pack of around 10 athletes, but he dug deep to put himself back in contention in the final stages of the race. With 500 metres to go he started to make his move, picking off runners from the pack and going all out for the win. In an exciting finish and with 50 metres to go Stabler was in second place behind Uganda’s Joel Ayeko, but it proved to be 50 metres too far and the other runners pulled back again in the finishing straight to nudge Stabler into 5th place, with just 4 seconds separating the top eight runners. It was a gutsy performance and one that very nearly paid off.

“I put myself in a position to be excited and gave it everything I had. I went for the win, but just mis-judged my finishing sprint by going a little too soon. But I’m pleased with my run and it’s good to come away with a PB.” said a pragmatic Stabler.

The women’s field lacked the same strength in depth, but nonetheless there was some high-quality competition and an equally thrilling finish between The Netherlands' Maureen Koster and Kenya’s Naomi Vaati. Both women were pretty much neck and neck for the majority of the race and as they came into the finishing stretch there was little to separate the two runners. An exciting sprint finish and they crossed the line together in same time 32:15, but Koster eventually being given the win on the dip finish and delighting the Dutch spectators in doing so.

The English contingent of Ashley Gibson (Club: Tonbridge AC, Coach: Bill Foster), Rebecca Robinson (Club: Kendal AC) and Emma Clayton (Club: Leeds City AC, Coach: Andy Henderson) settled into a good working pack of five athletes in the first half of the race, with Gibson and Clayton seemingly doing much of the work into the icy wind. Towards the end of the second lap Gibson had started to pull away and looked to be growing in confidence as the race progressed.

She worked off some of the fading male athletes and started to bridge the 25 second gap between Kenya’s Cynthia Jerop. There was not quite enough distance remaining for Gibson who eventually reduced the gap to 5 seconds to take 7th place and second European home in a time of 34:40. Clayton and Robinson worked hard to secure a top ten finish, with Clayton taking 9th spot in 35:08 and Robinson 10th in 35:21.

“It’s the first time we have sent a team to this event and the Parelloop event provided a great competitive opportunity for elite runners over the 10k distance with the race organisers going out of their way to look after visiting athletes. The lightly undulating two lap course makes for competitive races with plenty of on course spectator support.” said Team Leader Charlotte Fisher.



1 Joel Ayeko (Uganda) 29:06
2 Dominic Kipngeno Mibei (Kenia) 29:07
3 Chakib Lachgar (Spanje) 29:08
4 Moses Koech (Kenia) 29:08
5 Sam Stabler (Engeland) 29:09
6 John Kariuki (Kenia) 29:09
7 Ahmed El Mazouri (Italië) 29:10
8 Sen Mohamed Agourram (Marokko) 29:10


1 Maureen Koster (Nederland) 32:15
2 Naomi Vaati (Kenia) 32:15
3 Evalina Chirchir (Kenia) 32:33
4 Soukaina Atanane (Marokko) 32:38
5 Vsen Lilian Jelagat (Kenia) 32:57
6 Cynthia Jerop (Kenia) 34:15
7 Ashley Gibson (Engeland) 34:20
8 Hanne Verbruggen (België) 35:06
9 Emma Clayton (Engeland) 35:08
10 , 1 V35 Rebecca Robinson (Engeland) 35:21

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