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UK Athletics

Wilkinson beats World Mountain Running Champion!

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Victoria Wilkinson: stunning victory
Victoria Wilkinson: stunning victory

6 October 2007


Victoria Wilkinson (Bingley Harriers) scored a shock victory over the Women’s World Mountain Running Champion Anna Pichrtova (Czech Republic) in the final WMRA Grand Prix race of 2007 on the Smarna Gora, in Ljubljana, Slovenia, on Saturday 6 October.


Wilkinson has been in such inspired form since UK Athletics helped her to take a training trip to Ethiopia earlier this year that she led the Grand Prix rankings going into this final race, which was run in incessant, freezing rain that made underfoot conditions treacherous on the forest tracks.


And she stormed home first in 48 minutes 54 seconds, 47 seconds ahead of runner-up Pichrtova, over the 9km course, which involved 710 metres of climbing and 350 metres of decent.


Acknowledging it was a surprising win, Wilkinson said: “A mass start with the men ensured a pretty brisk start but, knowing I can start OK, I set off quite comfortably but within the first 100m I was on Anna's heels. Then I just tracked her every move, staying with her as we weaved through the men up through the woods in the torrential rain and cold temperatures. Although I am probably more used to the conditions than the Czech, I don’t like the cold and would much prefer the hot sun.


“The previous 10 hours of heavy rain made the paths in the woods tricky, but I ensured I stayed with Anna, occasionally overtaking her on some of the ascents as I felt strong climbing and could sense her slight weakness in this area. Wanting to go clear of her on some sections, but holding back, not quite having the confidence to run away from her and maintain a lead all the way to the summit of ‘Smarna Gora’ I controlled myself until just before the 1km to go marker. where I made my attack knowing it was now or never., In that 1km I put 47 seconds between myself and the World Champion, crossing the line very happy.”


But the excellent effort was only good enough to earn Wilkinson third place in the final overall standings. The reason: the best three results out of four races count towards the final rankings.


So Pichrtova finished top of the overall 2007 Grand Prix, as expected, with 308 points to earn the $1500 prize. By finishing fourth today, her Czech team mate, Iva Milesova moved up to the runner-up position (266 points), squeezing Wilkinson into third overall position (260 points).


Joe Symonds (Kendal AC) was eighth in the Men’s race to finish third overall with 227 points.


For more details, please click on Mountain GP