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Mountain runners battle in Keswick

Emma Clayton - Keswick

The competition was arguably fiercer than ever this weekend as the best mountain runners from every corner of the UK flocked to Keswick for race two of the 2014 British Athletics Mountain Running Challenge.

Conditions couldn’t have been better preparation for those aiming to secure places in the Great Britain & Northern Ireland team for the European Mountain Running Championships to be held in Gap, France next month.

The senior women’s race stole the limelight on the day, with two international medallists, Emma Clayton (coach: Andrew Henderson) and Sarah Tunstall going tooth and nail around the two lap, 8.7km course, which contained 460m of ascent and descent. In the end it was Clayton who proved slightly too strong for her GB & NI counterpart despite missing a large part of the winter through injury, winning by 14 seconds. Katie Walshaw (Katherine Farquhar) took third on the day and with the trio all likely to be included in the GB & NI team announced tomorrow, they’ll be a good bet for team and individual medals in the south of France. With the event also incorporating the Senior Home International Match, England were clear winners thanks to the aforementioned athletes filling the top three places.

The men’s race told a similar story, with Scottish duo Robbie Simpson and Andrew Douglas (Sophie Dunnett) pulling away from the field on the first lap and battling it out over their longer three lap course. And it took until that final lap for Simpson to edge clear of his elder counterpart to take the title, as he did two years ago. A minute further back it was a battle of the Tom’s with Tom Addison eventually coming through for third, leaving Tom Adams fourth and Tom Cornthwaite fifth. With three in the first six, the team title went Scotland’s way.

The junior races told a very different story however, with Andrew Lawler (David Campbell) and Georgia Malir (Henderson) clear winners. Lawler was away on gone on the first lap, in the end finishing over a minute clear of runner up Jacob Adkin. Over the much shorter one lap course, Malir’s winning margin was ten seconds from GB & NI teammate Catriona Graves.

The results from race two leave Sarah Tunstall top of the women’s Mountain Running Challenge standings heading into the last race in August, which takes on an uphill only format. Tom Addison heads the men’s standings.