A look ahead to the 31st edition of the World Mountain Running Championships taking place in Betws-y-Coed

Leading mountain runners from around the globe are set to descend on North Wales on Saturday (September 19) for the World Mountain Running Championships.

Among them will be a 17-strong team from Great Britain and Northern Ireland hoping to make the most of home advantage to win individual and team medals.

Competition is expected to be fierce once again after 2014’s hugely successful event in Casette Di Massa, Italy, with 28 countries taking part and more than 300 athletes expected to compete.

Senior men race over a 13km course (two laps), with senior women and junior men over an 8.9km one (two laps) and junior women racing 4.7km (one lap).

There is more than 250m of elevation gain on each lap for the competitors to tackle.

The GB & NI men’s team is made up of GB trials winner Robbie Simpson, fellow Scot Andrew Douglas, Tom Adams, Tom Addison, Ben Mounsey and Chris Smith. The team has genuine medal prospects with Simpson looking to emulate the form which saw him take a silver medal at the European Championships in 2014.

Defending champion Isaac Kiprop from Uganda returns to defend the crown he won on the uphill-only course in
2014 and while his team-mates haven’t raced these championships in the last two years they will be the favourites to take gold.

USA arrive in Wales with ambitions to win team gold in the men’s competition, led by 2:14 marathon runner and former World Cross Country Championships runner, Ryan Bak.

Italy are once again expected to be strong having finished second behind Uganda the last time the race was run up and downhill and Bernard Dematteis will be aiming to be top European and break the Ugandan domination.

In the women’s senior race GB & NI’s Emma Clayton (pictured), a silver medallist at the championships in 2013, will once again have her eyes on the top prize. She will be joined by Sarah Tunstall, who showed her class to win the trial race, GB debutant Emily Collinge and Victoria Wilkinson, who replaces Hatti Archer after her withdrawal with a slight injury.

Britain are likely to be challenged by a strong USA team and although largely unknown, Uganda are also expected to be strong at the front of the field. Alica Gaggi from Italy won the event two years ago and should be among the leading contenders but Austria are without Andrea Myer, a potential gold medallist, which will weaken their team.

GB & NI’s Max Nicholls and Jacob Adkin, fifth and sixth respectively at the European Championships last month, will be aiming high in the junior men’s race. They will be joined by John Spill and Jacob Boyle who are both set to make their maiden appearances in a British vest. A trio of athletes have been selected for the junior women’s event for GB & NI including trial winner Heidi Davies, former European champion Georgia Malir and Scarlet Dale, who is added to the fold for the first time.