“I’m a normal guy who just beat four-time Olympic legend Mo Farah”
On the corner of a busy junction in Surbiton, south London, the unlikely man of the moment athletics crosses the road hastily scoffing at a roll of sausages he has just bought at the supermarket. It’s been a surprisingly busy day and he’s a bit late. The dinner of champions will have to wait.
After Monday’s jaw-dropping madness, he’s back to work Tuesday which involves leading a local running group on a three-mile ride around a park near the running shop he works at.
The full spectrum of fitness standards are here, from enthusiasts with Garmin watches strapped to their wrists to backtrackers eager to just crank up their tails. So far, quite normal.
But look closely, amid the fluorescent running tops, and there’s a police community support officer in the back, posted to watch for any excessive crowds that might appear. It turns out their work turns out to be redundant, but no one really knew what to expect tonight. Everything about the world of Ellis Cross is so unpredictable right now.
When he stood on the start line of the Vitality London 10,000 on Monday morning, Cross was, by his own admission, nobody. Rejected in his registration to join the elite race, he instead paid the £37 entry fee and lined up with the rest of the club riders.
Cross, 25, had already proven himself to be a talent – a few years ago he was twice crowned England’s cross country champion, earning him a British minus cross country vest 23 years old.
But his running sneakers were now two years old and his bib betrayed his anonymity by displaying his number rather than the name worn by the elite contingent.
Nobody, and even less him, expected what happened next.
“I’m just a normal guy and I beat a four-time Olympic champion,” he says, finishing the sausage roll and succinctly summing up one of the biggest upsets in recent track and field history, having relegated Sir Mo Farah to second place and potentially ended his elite career in the process. “It’s amazing, really.”