European cross country champion hopes to see out-of-stadium running boosted after IAAF elections

Gemma Steel has backed Seb Coe’s plans to help boost the image of out-of-stadium running events a week before the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) presidential elections take place in Beijing.

Coe has a number of new and innovative ways to help promote the sport in his IAAF presidential campaign manifesto, one of which proposes an event combining race walking, road running and cross country in a host city, described in his manifesto as a “form of ‘running and walking festival'”.

Steel, the reigning European cross country champion, is currently gearing up for the Morrisons Great North Run in September and has expressed her delight at Coe’s efforts to help the sport.

“I feel like road runners, and cross country runners in particular, don’t get as much respect as the track runners,” she said. “Anything that promotes the events of road and cross country running is great.”

Despite two summers in 2011 and 2012 having been focused on track running, Steel admits that out-of-stadium running is where her heart firmly lies.

“I’m a bit of an artist, I love to look at the scenery while I’m running cross country. I get to go different places in the world and see different things,” she added.

“It’s more of a scenic event because on the track you don’t get to see a lot. Running against the elements is a great challenge.”

» Look out for AW’s September 10 Morrisons Great North Run preview edition which will include a more in-depth interview with Gemma Steel