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conway's golden triumph in the mountains

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18 June 2016

There was gold medal success for Annie Conway in the senior women’s race at the World Long Distance Mountain Running Championships in Podbrdo, Slovenia.

Conway, who runs for Ambleside in the Lake District, enjoyed one of the performances of her career to win by nearly a minute over the tough 42,195km course which has 2800m climbs and 2800m descents.

She was four minutes down on the leading group after the first checkpoint at 7km and was still over three minutes behind Italian Antonella Confortola with 5km remaining. However, the Briton showed her strength to overhaul her rivals and take home the world title. Conway finished in a time of 4:29.01 to take home a first major gold medal.

Conway spoke afterwards: "It's a bit of a shock at the moment, but it's a good feeling, it's a bit of a daze but I think it'll sink in soon.

 "I climbed quite well from the start on the second climb, and I went past the third lady (Francesca Iachemet of Italy) and then I caught the second lady (Lucija Krkoc of Slovenia) at the top of the last summit and then I caught Antonella (Confortola of Italy) with 3K to go on the descent, so I just kept going and thought, 'right, I can't lose this position now'."

Next to finish for the British Athletics’ team was Victoria Wilkinson who came through in 4:45.33 for 14th place. She was running close to Conway at the 28km point but held on for a high placing on the gruelling course. Helen Berry was close behind in 18th; crossing the line in 4:49.28, with Helen Bonsor making sure every Brit ended the race in the top 25, with 23rd place in 4:57.09.

After narrowly missing out on the medals at the IAU World Trail Championships last year, there was a similar result for Tom Owens in Slovenia as he crossed the line in fourth after a strong performance. His time of 3:49.34 confirmed another confident display by the Shettleston athlete on the international stage.

The men’s team packed well in the top 16, with the other four Britons making a big impact in the race. 2013 IAU World Trail Champion Ricky Lightfoot, winner of the Trial event at the Three Peaks race in April, was sixth in 3:53.30 whilst Andrew Davies (Steve Vernon) consolidated ninth position in 3:54.39.  Yorkshireman Karl Gray was next home in 12th in 4:00.19 closely followed by Rob Hope 16th in 4:01.59.

Full results can be found here: http://remote.timingljubljana.si/gm4o/