Whinlatter Forest saw some hard-fought hill running action on Saturday

Rebecca Hilland and Andrew Douglas won the British trials for the European Mountain Running Championships on Saturday (May 28).

With places on the team for July’s European event in Arco, Italy, to be earned, there was plenty at stake as the athletes took on the challenging up and down course in the Lake District venue of Whinlatter Forest.

Hilland (pictured) secured a first trials triumph after only taking up mountain running last year. After moving to Norway to live with her husband, she trains in a mountainous location which prepared her fully for the course at Whinlatter.

She finished almost a minute ahead of her closest competitor, Heidi Dent, who also enjoyed one of the races of her career. WMRA World Cup champion Sarah Tunstall made up a lot of ground on the final lap to take third.

Hilland said: “It was really fun and a nice course – there was only one section which was quite steep but you could work off the flat bits and downhills. I didn’t expect to go off so hard and thought I’d be hanging on behind others at the end, it was a really strong field.

“I’m fairly new to mountain running but I live in Norway and you can’t go out for a run without going up a hill.”

Douglas was made to work hard for victory in the senior men’s 12km race by Andrew Davies. The winner, who was sixth at the World Mountain Running Championships last year, said: “It was really tough but it is what you expect from up and down courses but because it had a really fast downhill that made it extra tough.

“I’m really happy with that – I managed to make a breakaway on the third lap but I was conscious I never really had that much of a gap so I had to keep working hard.

“You are really hurting on those climbs but you have to think everyone else is too, you just have to hope you are hurting less!”

Davies finished runner-up with Ricky Lightwood in third, both of these athletes heading to the world long distance mountain running championships next month. Alex Pilcher and Ben Mounsey rounded off the top five after strong second halves to their races.

Scottish athletes Gavin Bryson and Laura Stark took the junior race victories. After Douglas’ senior men’s win, it meant Scotland won three of the four titles.

» For results, see the June 2 issue of AW