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British Athletics Mountain Running Challenge

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Rob Samuel

12 August 2013

Despite most of the athletics worlds’ attention being on Moscow, this weekend saw the climax of the British Athletics Mountain Running Challenge.  The race took place on the hills of Whinlatter Forest in Keswick, and acted as the trial race for the World Mountain Running Championships in September.

In the senior men’s race, after a steady first lap it was Rob Samuel of Eryri Harriers who opened up a significant lead on the second of the three lap, 14.4km course. Recent Snowdon Mountain Race winner Andi Jones couldn’t quite match Samuel on the descents of the up and down course, as he notched up the finest victory of his career.  Jones ran a measured race to finish second in 59:38, 27 seconds back from Samuels, with James McMullan (coach: Robin Dickson) rounding out the podium places.  With six spots up for grabs on the GB & NI team for the World Championships in Poland next month, Tom Adams, Nick Swinburn and Chris Smith took the next three places. The GB & NI team will be announced tomorrow.

Samuels victory meant that there have been three different winners in the series this year, but Nick Swinburn’s fifth place finish was enough to give him the overall victory in the 2013 British Athletics Mountain Running Challenge. Tom Adams was second, with race winner Samuel third, just three points back.

In the women’s race, pre-race favourite Emma Clayton (Andrew Henderson) overcame a stiff challenge from 2008 European Mountain Running Championship bronze medallist Sarah Tunstall to win the senior ladies 9.6km race in 44:25.  After racing the first decent together, Emma used the climbs on lap two to build a winning lead, with Tunstall finishing second 27 seconds back.  Mary Wilkinson marked her return from a long injury layoff with a well-earned third place with Katie Walshaw fourth.  The GB & NI women’s team will hope to continue the success of the senior ladies team at up and down major championships in Poland, following gold at the 2012 European Championships and bronze at the World Championships in 2011.

After winning all three races in the series, Emma Clayton was a comfortable winner of the women’s British Athletics Mountain Running Challenge series, however the battle for second was much closer, Sarah Tunstall edging out Katie Walshaw by a single point.

In the junior races there were wins for Brad Traviss and Georgia Malir, with the latter beating reigning up and down European Junior Champion Annabel Mason.