A self-confessed amateur ‘club runner’ beat Olympic champion Mo Farah in a 10km race after working a full day at an athletics workshop the day before.
Ellis Cross, 25, works six-hour shifts at Up & Running in Surbiton, south-west London, and will be back there this afternoon just over 24 hours after his most famous victory.
On Bank Holiday Monday, he beat Farah, arguably the greatest endurance athlete in UK history, a remarkable triumph for an amateur who only finished ninth in the 10,000m at the British Championships last summer.
Yesterday’s feat is all the more amazing when you consider that he had to pay his own £37 entrance fee, did not have his name on his bib, was not considered part of the elite pack and had to take the train to the starting line.
It was surprising to almost everyone to see Cross, wearing bib number 219, alongside one of the most successful runners in history for the first five miles, but almost unbelievable to see him pull away from the seven-time winner to take home the win. at Vitality London 10,000 by a margin of four seconds.
Cross works at Up & Running, in Surbiton, South West London, equipping clients with new running trainers
Gold medalist Ellis Cross, silver medalist Mo Farah and bronze medalist Mohamud Aadan pose on the podium after the men’s elite race. Both Farah and Aadan were considered elite athletes, meaning they didn’t have to pay their own entry fee and had a name on their bibs, something Cross had to do without.
A prolific junior athlete, Cross signed a professional contract with Hoka One One, a local sympathizer company, in 2019, but that ended two years later, shortly before his dream of becoming a fully professional runner materialized.
For one person, it was perhaps a little less surprising: crossing paths. After the race, he said that he had told his colleagues at Up & Running during his shift the day before that he “could beat Mo Farah tomorrow.”
“I was joking with a colleague saying that,” he told BBC Breakfast.
‘I was actually working on Sunday, so I worked the day before the race, I did a full day. I was like “Oh, I’m racing Mo Farah tomorrow, who knows? What if I win it?”
Millie Grice, the colleague Cross was speaking with, said she didn’t think much of his prediction until she saw footage of him beating Farah while working in the store on Monday.
She told the Telegraph after her win: “He told me he was going to win.”
Ellis Cross crosses the finish line ahead of Mo Farah to win the men’s race during the Vitality London 10,000 road race
Cross (right) after surprising Farah to win the 10km race on Bank Holiday Monday, a day after telling colleagues: “I could beat Mo Farah tomorrow.”
But there was a reason for his confidence. When he was young, Cross was a prolific youth athlete. He twice won the English national cross country under-20s, the BUCS 5,000m and also placed 15th at the European cross country championships for under-23s in 2016.
Shortly after, he signed a professional contract with Hoka One One, a local sympathetic company, in 2019 but that ended two years later, shortly before his dream of becoming a fully professional racer materialized.
While still an extremely talented athlete, Cross is now an amateur runner for Aldershot, Farnham & District, a club that celebrated his win over Farah as “one of the most remarkable wins of his career thus far”, and his final time of 28 minutes. and 40 seconds was his personal best.
He later revealed that he didn’t even wear his watch during the race, expecting just a “hard start” not caring about the times, and had to pay his own £37 entry fee as he wasn’t deemed good enough to get a paid place. .
After his victory, he reflected on what he had just accomplished.
‘I didn’t follow the script, did I?’ he said. “I didn’t believe it until 20 meters from the line I thought, ‘I think I could win this race,’ and then I gave absolutely everything I had.” I managed to hold on. I am absolutely delighted.
As a youngster, Cross was a prolific youth athlete. He twice won the English national cross country under-20 category, the BUCS 5,000m
He also placed 15th in the European U-23 cross-country championships in 2016.
The Cross Country running club, Aldershot, Farnham & District, posted a screenshot of the 25-year-old crossing the finish line as they congratulated him on “one of the most remarkable wins of his career so far”.
That day, he got up at 6 am to catch the train on the run and had to run with a bib without his name on it. The names on the bibs were reserved for elite runners who also avoid paying the entry fee.
He revealed that people who attended the race on Monday were shouting Mo Farah’s name because they had no idea who he was.
“No one knows who I am,” he said. ‘I’m just a club rider. I just wanted a hard race, I didn’t even wear my watch.
Born in September 1996, Cross studied at Polesworth School in Tamworth, Staffordshire, before going on to St Mary’s College, Twickenham. The university is popular with talented athletes due to its state-of-the-art facilities and on-campus running track, facilities considered good enough for Farah himself to train there from 2001 to 2011.
His girlfriend since 2017, Anna Weston, also attended St Mary’s University and works alongside Cross at Up & Running as a sales assistant. A fairly skilled endurance runner herself, she runs 10km in under 40 minutes and has competed in the South of England and Cross Country Championships.
Cross appeared on BBC Breakfast on Tuesday morning, where he revealed that he would be back at work just over 24 hours after beating Olympic champion Mo Farah.
In an interview in December 2021, Cross discussed the scope of athletics, comparing its lack of fanfare to horse racing, which is watched by thousands of spectators, and asked what the difference is between humans and horse racing.
He told Views From the Concourse: ‘You go to something like horse racing, you get a significant amount of money that’s there and people are happy to put money in, they can have a full day and watch it. You show up and see people running and you get nothing.
Cross, who enjoyed funding while in college and during the two years he was sponsored, now uses the money he earns equipping customers with new running trainers at Up & Running to help fund his training.
“I’ve been telling people in college that you have to take advantage of that opportunity and make every moment count.
‘An athlete in our sport, the best part of funding is student funding.’
Winning yesterday’s race was a £2,000 prize which Cross, a football fan from Birmingham City, hopes to put towards the purchase of a home, and he hopes the recognition of this race will help him win elite participation in racing at the future.
He said, ‘That would be nice, wouldn’t it? The free entry is very useful for someone like me.