Steve Vernon received a heartening boost to his ambitions of lifting next month's European Mountain Running Championships title with his victory at the Karrimor Great Trail Challenge on Sunday (17 June).
The event, which incorporated a Home Countries International match and mass participation event across three distances was staged by Nova, organisers of the Bupa Great North Run.
Taking charge of the race over a testing 10km course in Keswick, Steve Vernon immediately stamped his authority before going on to post an impressive time of 31 minutes 57 seconds, ahead of established British international cross country runner Andi Jones. Jones had no answer when Vernon commenced his breakaway and domination of the inaugural event, coming off a flat section of the course and into a steep hill climb.
At the finish, Vernon held an advantage of 27sec from Jones with Brian MacMahon of Ireland finishing third in 32:44. Steve Vernon, competing in the European Mountain Running Championships in Turkey next month said, "I really wanted to test myself before going off to the European Championships and my tactics really worked out as I had planned. Now the plan is to get in some intensive training before moving on to Turkey."
Rebecca Robinson, another highly experienced performer was made to fight much harder in the early stages by England’s Emma Clayton before lifting the women's title. Robinson clocked a time of 36:47 with Sarah McCormack of Ireland finishing second in 36:58 and Emma Clayton holding on to take third spot in 37:01.
England were victorious in the team competition with an overall 28 points based on the positions of the senior and junior men and women. Scotland shared the same score of 37pts with Ireland but claimed second on countback. Wales finished fourth on 65pts.
Across the day, hundreds of running enthusiasts took part in challenging 10km, half marathon and marathon distances whilst enjoying breathtaking Lakeland views. The 10km route left Station Field along the Keswick Railway Footpath, climbed the northern shoulder of Latrigg Fell, before making its way back down Cumbria Way to the finish line at Station Field. The multi-lap half and full marathon distances also incorporated this route, along with a longer lap reaching a height of nearly 400 metres.
Dave Newton, Managing Director at organisers Nova said, "The inaugural Karrimor Great Trail Challenge has been an eye opener for many of us who were very impressed how runners of all abilities coped so successfully with such a tough, albeit beautiful course.
"We’ve received a fantastic response from participants and I hope they will all return for what we would like to become an established event on the trail running circuit.”
After a few days of rain, the resulting mud didn’t dampen the spirits of the spectators, who joined in the fun at the event village at Station Field. Families were entertained by Keswick Adventure Centre and Ambleside-based street theatre team; the Fairly Famous Family. Cumbrian caterers, including Rob’s Meats and Bean on the Scene provided everything from hog roast to smoothies throughout the day.
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