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Cross-country trials spark rivalry but no animosity

Hannah Flannery is one of two Canberra women racing for a place in the Australian team in the World Cross Country trials at Stromlo on Sunday morning, but it's bragging rights over training partner Louisa Lobigs she's aiming for.

Flannery has an impressive record in local events, having won the past two Canberra half-marathons, and while a top-three finish will guarantee selection in the Australian team, the 24-year-old is playing down her chances.

''Of course I would love to say I could be part of an Australian team, but I don't want to get too ahead of myself, I'm really not there at the moment,'' Flannery said.

''Because it's in Canberra and is a home race and it's a really good field, you just want to be part of it, going out and having a good hit-out, so I'll certainly give it my best shot; you never know what will come of it.''

Flannery trains with Lobigs under the guidance of coach Dick Telford, and with Flannery transitioning to the full marathon distance and Lobigs preferring races under five kilometres, the eight-kilometre cross-country represents some middle ground for the encounter.

''We train together, do all our sessions together, so I guess there's always that rivalry between us, but it's all a bit of fun,'' Lobigs said.


''We'll be racing to be Dick Telford's favourite girl,'' she joked.

Flannery had initially targeted the race as a chance to make a national team, but insists she's lost some speed as she clocks up more kilometres in her legs to run elite-level marathons.

Flannery said Lobigs would ''have a really good crack'', but it will be the 22-year-old's second race back after being sidelined from racing for nine months through injury.

''Obviously cross-country, you just have to be tough to run it, especially on that course,'' Lobigs said.

''It's more of a slog than a track race, but you've just got to be strong.''