Athletics: Britton finishes fourth in cross-country opener
DEFENDING European champion Fionnuala Britton was the second non-African home when she finished fourth in the first IAAF cross-country event of the season in Burgos, Spain.
Ethiopia's Ayalew Hiwot (fifth in the Olympic steeplechase) won the race in 25.01, after taking advantage of a late fall by Kenya's Linet Masai, who recovered to finish second in 25.19.
They had broken clear of the rest of the field after 3km of the 8km event.
Britton led the chasing group, which eventually came down to herself, Britain's relatively unknown Jessica Coulson and Portugal's Sara Moreira.
Coulson broke free over the last 1,000m to finish third in 25.42, six seconds clear of Britton (25.48), with Moreira fifth in 25.51.
Both Coulson and Moreira will be among Britton's rivals when she defends her European title in Budapest next month.
Ava Hutchinson (DSD) was the second Irish woman home in ninth place, followed by Sarah McCormack (Clonliffe) in 13th and Kerry Harty (Newcastle) in 21st.
Clonmel schoolboy Sean Tobin impressed when finishing second in the junior race in 17.48, behind Bulgaria's Mitko Tsenov (17.28).
Ethiopia's defending World cross-country champion Imane Merga (28.07) won the men's race, two seconds clear of Kenya's Vincent Chepkok.
David McCarthy finished in 18th place (29.20), followed by Portlaoise's Michael Mulhare (25th), Kilkenny's Brian Maher (40th) and Annadale's Eddie McGinley (53rd).