(Pictured: Winner Emma Clayton)
Pre-race favourites Emma Clayton (Yorkshire) and Andrew Douglas (Scotland West) were the senior winners at the FRA British Inter Counties event at Betws-y-Coed, North Wales on Saturday 16th May where Yorkshire were the most successful county.
Race conditions were very good with the overnight rain clearing to leave a dry day which got warmer as the day went on with plenty of overhead cover as the event was being staged in the Gwydyr Forest.
The first race of the day saw the under 16 and 18 women compete on quite a tough but fast 4.8k up and down loop course with 200mtrs of climbing in which Welsh GB athlete Heidi Davies (Brecon AC) was a class above everyone else winning the under 18 title in a time of 20:28 ahead of under 16 champion Scarlet Dale (Cumbria) 21:57. Yorkshire won the under 16 team title ahead of Cumbria while North Wales won the under 18 team title ahead of Yorkshire.
The next race saw the under 16 and 18 men run on the same course as their female counterparts with another Welsh under 18 winner in Ciaran Lewis (South Wales) 18:23 who was pushed hard all the way by under 16 athlete Joshua Boyle (Lancashire) 18:33 with another under 16 athlete not far behind in Matthew Willis (North Wales) 18:45. The team titles went to Yorkshire in both the under 16 and 18 categories winning both by a single point ahead of North Wales and Lancashire respectively
The senior women’s race involved running two laps of the same course and though Emma Clayton built up a good lead by halfway, she was very nearly caught by Annie Conway (Cumbria) but Emma held her off on the fast run in to win in a time of 40:29 with Annie runner up in 40:35 ahead of Sarah McCormack (Cumbria). With three finishers in the top eight, Cumbria held off Yorkshire to win the team title by two points.
In the final race of the day, the senior men not only had to run two laps of the same course but also an extension to the first lap which included a tough climb and over 515 metres of climbing which proved to be no problem for Andrew Douglas (Scotland West) who built up a good lead ahead of Chris Smith (Middlesex) which he kept to the finish to win in a time of 45:26 with Chris 2nd in 46:15 and 3rd Tom Addams (Yorkshire) 47:14. With three finishers in the top eight, Yorkshire won the team title ahead of Scotland East and Scotland West. Yorkshire were the dominant county winning medals in every category achieving: 4 team golds and two team silvers.
Overall, a very good day all round with quality racing with athletes from around the UK enjoying racing on the quite tough but runnable Gwydyr Forest trails and the friendly, relaxed atmosphere of Betws-y-Coed where of course, the best mountain runners in the World will compete in September’s World Championships.
Report from Arwel Lewis, Welsh Athletics Mountain Secretary