2011 European Mountain Running Championships
14th July 2011
The 10th running of the European Mountain Running Championships took place on Sunday 10th July in Bursa, Turkey.
Great Britain sent 15 athletes, 9 of whom were making their international debut for Great Britain and included within their ranks were Scottish talents Scout Adkin, Garry Rankin, Clare Whitehead and Nicola Meekin.
The men’s race started in Bursa and finished on Uludag mountain summit. All races finished on top of Uludag mountain and started at various points along the mountain path. The weather was hot and sunny with temperatures around 30 degrees in Bursa and a slightly cooler 24 degrees at the top.
The event programme began with the Junior Ladies who raced over 3.5k and climbed 405metres. The race was won by Denisa Lonela Dragomi (21:43) from Romania. She was followed home by two athletes from the host nation: Yasemine Can (22:08) and Sevilay Eytemis (22:16). The British team was made up of debutants Ffion Price 14th (24:54) and Scout Adkin 15th (25:10) who worked well together and Beckie Taylor who ran well for 22nd (26:21).
Turkey took the team honours and Great Britain were a credible 6th.
The junior men followed with their race over 8.5k with 865m climb. Turkey have become regulars on the podium over the last few years and today they took all the podium places in the junior men’s race.
Nuri Komur was first across the line (43:08) with his team mate Sonmez Dag close behind (43:12).Turkey’s third counter was Murai Orak just a little off the pace (43:40). Like the GB junior women, the GB junior men’s team was made up of first-timers.
Garry Rankin was delighted to make the top twenty. He finished in 18th place (48:27). After the race he said “I was glad that much of the course was through the forest as it was tough in the heat when we were out of the shade. I didn’t expect so many flat bits on an uphill course but it was good for me because I caught quite a few so I’m looking forward to trying to make the team for the World’s now as that’s an up and down course.”
He was followed home by Jack Ross in 22nd (49:22), Joe Johnston in 29th (50:45) and Dominic Mahoney in 45th (54:50). Turkey again took the team honours and Great Britain again finished 6th.
The senior ladies then ran the same course, the only race where Turkey didn’t win a podium place. This race was won by Martina Strahl of Switzerland (48:44). She was followed by Antonella Confortola of Italy (49:09) and Lucija Krkoc of Slovenia (49:24).
Emma Clayton ran on this mountain in 2006 when she represented England in the World Trophy as a junior. Then, she led the team home then with an 11th place finish and this time around she bettered that by leading the British senior team home as she finished in 10th place (50:53). As she crossed the line she said “This is my first senior vest and I really didn’t expect to come back and race as well as this! I had been told not to go off hard and I’m glad I listened because it enabled me to push harder on the downs and the flats. I then continued to pick people off on the steep climb towards the finish. I thought I was going to be 11th again but I managed to pass one more in the last 200m! It’s great to compete against top class Europeans. I’ve been doing the Grand Prix in Europe so I’m learning how to compete with them.”
Clare Whitehead was delighted to finish 26th on her debut (53:02). Victoria Wilkinson was disappointed with 28th (53:19) but glad to be back in European competition after injury and a virus. She said “You have to respect the European competition. If you lose 30 seconds you lose 10 places.”
Nicola Meekin also made an excellent debut finishing just outside the top 30 in 31st (54:08). Italy won the team competition and Great Britain got another 6th place to their name.
The final event of the day was the senior men’s race over 12k with a climb of 1245m, won by Ahmet Arslan from Turkey in 58:08. He was followed by Gabriele Abate from Italy (58:40) and Jose Gaspar from Portugal (59:05).
Great Britain had four experienced runners led home by Andi Jones who was delighted with his 7th place (60:39). “This is my joint second highest finish in a major championship. [He was 4th in the World Trophy in 2003 and 7th in the Europeans in 2006]. I started hard and led it out until a very steep road section. When I got into the last 4k Mark [Croasedale – team manager] let me know that I was in 7th. I didn’t realise I was still so far up and I was feeling comfortable. I lost a couple of places after that but then made them up again on the steep climb to the finish. I’m very happy. I think it made a difference to come out a day early. It helped with the preparation.”
Andi was followed in by Steve Vernon in 13th (61:34) who started well but suffered from cramp in the second half of the race. “I’m disappointed”, he commented, “I was hoping for a top 5 but I’m glad to be back, mountain running again after being out of it for a few years.”
Adam Osborne finished 47th (66:42) and also suffered in the heat. Nick Swinburn struggled in to finish 71st (80:43) and said “I felt as if I had nothing in my legs from the start. After 300m I couldn’t keep up with anyone.” Italy took the team honours in this race and Great Britain earned themselves 5th spot.
Team Leader Sarah Rowell said, “We’ve had some good performances today, particularly from the junior teams who are representing Great Britain for the first time and are all very young. Every one of them has at least one more year left in this age group so we’re excited about the future.”
The Great Britain Trials for the World Championships will be held on 13 August at Witton Park in Blackburn.
The World Mountain Running Championships (up and down) will be held on 11 September in Albania.