Gould and Vernon finish on top at Skiddaw
Emma Gould (Club: Birchfield Harriers / Mercia Fell, COach: William Laye) and Steve Vernon (Club: Stockport, Coach: David Turnbull) became senior England Athletics Mountain Running Champions at the British Athletics trial for the World Mountain Running Championships, with Joe Dugdale (Club: Copeland / Cumberland Fell Runners) and Rosie Woodhams (Club: Kendal) taking the U20 Men’s and Women’s titles respectively.
The day started quite cool with low cloud, but this soon cleared providing hot, challenging conditions for the U20 race which finished on the 735m Jenkin Hill, just short of the Skiddaw summit after 2 ascents of Latrigg Fell to start. Joe Dugdale took an early lead and ran from the front, closely pursued by newcomer to mountain running Jack White from City of Norwich AC (Coach: Peter Gore). This continued to the finish line with Dugdale managing to hold off White by 15 seconds to take the victory. Third position went to Euan Brennan of Ilkley Harriers (Coach: Andrew Henderson), after a long battle with Matthew Mackay (Club: Rossendale, Coach: Graham Wright) on the 6.8km course.
In the U20 Women’s race Rosie Woodhams of Kendal AC ran to victory by nearly 2 minutes, with Buxton AC’s Helen Thornhill taking the silver medal. Finty Royle (Coach: Katie Hewison) and Emily Field (Club: Bingley) swapped positions throughout the climb, with Chorley’s Royle running a very strong last mile to take the bronze.
The early ascents of Latrigg seemingly took their toll on the field in the senior men’s race with many athletes falling back away from the top three on the main ascent of Skiddaw. Steve Vernon, a previous English champion, had a great comeback to the mountains narrowly beating U23 Max Nicholls (Club: Tonbridge / King's College London, Coach: Peter Brenchley), who is having a fantastic season, into second place. Local runner Dan Haworth of Keswick AC ran a strong race to complete the podium thirty seconds behind Nicholls. Another U23, Chris Richards (Club: Salford Harriers / Bangor Uni, Coach: Duncan Richards), finished strongly but missed out on a medal in fourth place, 40 seconds down on Haworth.
Mercia’s Emma Gould ran a dominant race from gun to tape, taking the win from Bingley’s Victoria Wilkinson by over 90 seconds. Wilkinson finished comfortably ahead of relative newcomer to the sport Bethany Hanson (Ambleside AC), who had a fantastic race to take the bronze medal. Rebecca Robinson (Club: Kendal) challenged early in the race for a podium position, but faded into fourth as the summit drew closer.
Many thanks to Andy Watts for fantastically organised race on a very tough course.