England retain both men and women's team titles at Home Countries International Mountain Race
This year’s Home Countries International event was incorporated into the European Mountain Running trial and was also the British Athletics Mountain Running Championships. England were able to select strong teams after some great racing at the inter-counties hill race which was the England trial race. The day was very misty and damp making the descents quite slippery underfoot, the race was two laps over a distance of 10.4km with a total ascent of 780m.
It was an uphill start with both men and women running together. Quite early in the race five runners had already formed a gap; these included three of the England team Nick Swinburn (Club: Northumberland Fell Runners), Chris Arthur (Club: Bowland Fell Runners) and Max Nicholls (Club: Tonbridge AC, Coach: Pete Brenchley), as well as Andy Douglas running for Scotland and Chris Smith (Thames Valley Harriers). Alex Pilcher (Club: Derby AC), England's 4th placed runner, was having a good run inside the top 10, with Harry Holmes (Club: Pudsey & Bramley AC) and Joshua Jardine making their England debuts also in good positions.
On the second lap, Nick Swinburn was leading but was caught over the top by Andy Douglas who went on to win for the 4th time in five years. But he was closely followed by the three England runners Chris, Nick and Max who finished 2nd, 3rd and 4th. With three Scottish runners coming in 6th, 7th and 8th the team team title was going to be close but with Alex Pilcher holding on to 10th place, England won by one point. Harry Holmes came home in a creditable 15th and Joshua Jardine (Club: Helm Hill Runners, Coach: Billy Proctor) was 28th.
In the women's race Vic Wilkinson (Club: Bingley Harriers) led from start to finish but was followed closely by Emma Gould (Club: Mercia Fell Runners / Birchfield Harriers, Coach: William Laye) who had a great race for England to finish 2nd with Sarah McCormack (Ambleside AC) finishing 3rd.
In the team competition Bronwen Jenkinson and Heidi Davies both running for Wales were pushing the England team all the way to the end. At the finish Heidi was 4th and Bronwen 6th, but with England's Katie Walshaw (Club: Ribble Valley Harriers) having a good descent to finish 5th, Tessa Strain (Club: Highgate Harriers) making her England debut in 7th and Nichola Jackson (Club: Ribble Valley Harriers, Coach: Chris Barnes) in 10th, England comfortably retained their team title.
1st England (18 points)
2nd Scotland (19 points)
1st England (16 points)
2nd Wales (26 points)
1st: Andy Douglas (Scotland) 46m55s
2nd: Chris Arthur (England) 47m17s
3rd: Nick Swinburn (England) 47m32s
4th: Max Nicholls (England) 47m48s
5th: Chris Smith (TVH) 48m17s
10th: Alex Pilcher (England) 50m33s
15th: Harry Holmes (England) 52m20s
28th: Joshua Jardine (England) 54m49s
1st: Vic Wilkinson (Bingley Harriers) 54m55s
2nd: Emma Gould (England) 55m50s
3rd: Sarah McCormack (Ambleside AC) 56m44s
4th: Heidi Davies (Wales) 58m19s
5th: Katie Walshaw (England) 58m20s
6th: Bronwen Jenkinson (Wales) 58m29s
7th: Tessa Strain (England) 59m59s
10th: Nichola Jackson (England) 62m00s