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UK Athletics

England second in Italian mountain relay

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An England mountain running team ran was pipped on the line by Italy’s former World and European champion Marco de Gasperi at the 49th Trofeo Vanoni International race in Morbegno over the weekend.


Of the England trio, Andi Jones (Salford) was third-fastest overall in 30 minutes 6 seconds, Ian Holmes six-fastest in 30:30 and his Bingley Harriers clubmate Andy Peace 13th in 30:53 in a field of almost 400.


They led for most of the way only to be caught at the end by the Italy team in the form of De Gasperi, who ran the fastest time of the day, 28:45.


This relay has a reciprocal arrangement with the Snowdon Race that has operated for many years and led to the two villages formally twinning two years ago.


The Women’s individual race ended with Mary Wilkinson (Skipton) second in 23:08 to Maria Roberti (Italy), who clocked 22.54. Christina Scolori (Italy) was third in 23.12.


A Great Britain Under 23 Team could be sent to next year’s Smara Gora World Mountain Running Association grand prix race in Slovenia following the successes enjoyed by a young England squad at this year’s event.


Managed by former GB cross country international Paul Dugdale, the athletes raced up and down the Grmada (676m) and up the Šmarna Gora (669 m) in temperatures ranging from 8° to 20°. Race warm-down was a fast descent of the Smarna Gora to the recreational centre 10km north-west of the Slovenian capital of Ljubljana.


Tom Cornthwaite (aged 21) led home the England contingent in the men’s race, won by Jonathan Wyatt in 38:49.1. Cornthwaite was 12th in 44:07.4. Adam Grice (20) was 14th in 44:42.0 and Andy Ellis (21) 23rd in 46:53.7.


In the Women’s race – won in 46:15.5 by Mateja Kosovelja – Katie Ingram (21) was 8th overall and 3rd in her category in 54:25.5 and Rachel Crowe (21) 12th overall in 55:50.9.


Dugdale, a scorer in 33rd place when GB won the senior men’s bronze medals at the 1992 IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Boston, USA, commented: “International racing is not just about turning up at the start line, it also involves coping with the whole experience and coming up with a result. With this in mind I was not only impressed by the performance of everyone on the squad but also the mental attitude shown … the squad have contacted me to say they all enjoyed the experience and how much it has motivated them. The sport should be most pleased with this, since keeping talented youngsters interested until they are able to compete on equal terms with older athletes would appear difficult in today’s society. This is even more so if time and effort is going to be put into junior development.”