It was a history-making European Mountain Running Championships (uphill) for the Great Britain & Northern Ireland team as they secured a scintillating medal haul as the senior and junior men bagged the individual and team gold medal double in Zermatt, Switzerland.
Jacob Adkin (coach: Robbie Simpson; club: Keswick) was the first British athlete to win a senior European title since Emmie Collinge in 2016, and he did it is sublime style in the shadow of the famous Matterhorn.
Racing over the 10-kilometre uphill course, he oozed class as he tore away from his opponents, winning in the end by 25 seconds from Norway’s Overgaard Aarvik Stian and Italy’s Xavier Chevrier.
After claiming the title, Adkin said: “Going into the race, I didn’t have any specific expectations. I initially set out fighting for the team, and the individual placing didn’t really enter my head until I hit the front about a third of the way through. But when the opportunity presents itself to potentially get an individual medal at a major championship, that pushes you on alongside the massive support of team mates and crowds at the side of the route. And ultimately, you want to do the hill justice don’t you?”
“Big thanks to everyone for their support along the way”
Adkin contributed to a second gold medal, as his win was backed up by three magnificent performances from his teammates. Thanks to their combined efforts, the senior men’s team topped the podium for the first time ever on the European stage.
Adkin’s coach and Commonwealth bronze medallist Robbie Simpson (Deeside Runners) was seventh in 54:49, while Andrew Douglas (Sophie Dunnett; Inverclyde), the third counter, bagged a crucial placing to confirm the British team’s route to the top of the podium. By holding off Italy’s Martin Dematteis in the closing stages, GB & NI won by a single placing, 17 to Italy’s 18 points.
Fresh from competing for Britain at the IAU / ITRA Trail World Championships last month, Sebastian Batchelor was 18th, adding another fine team performance to his list.
Earlier in the day, Joe Dugdale wowed the onlooking crowds as he sealed the U20 men’s title. The Copeland athlete was part of the junior team which won silver at the Worlds last year, and he used his experience to seal a maiden gold-medal on the continental stage.
He won it by six seconds from Italy’s Alain Cavagna, and Turkey’s Ramazan Yorulmaz was a further three seconds back.
A delighted Dugdale commented post-race: “It was an exciting and hard race and a tough course, although I actually prefer longer and steeper races.
“After winning silver at the Worlds last year, and getting 4th place in the World Championships, my goal was to get on the podium again. I was asked to speak at an introductory Mountain Running Camp for under 17s in March, and actually said that I was going for gold at this championship, but I couldn’t be sure because there are a lot of good athletes here, including my team mates. I half expected one of them to come past me at any time.”
Dugdale, alongside his teammates, also secured the U20 men’s team title, and he added:
“I’m delighted to win individual gold but just as pleased that we got the team gold. We all worked really hard and got amazing results.”
Matthew Mackay (Steve Duxbury; Rossendale) and Euan Brennan (Andrew Henderson; Ilkley), also part of the silver medal winning team in 2018, backed up Dugdale’s win by placing fourth and fifth, narrowly outside the podium picture. There was also a solid run by Ben Bergstrand (Martin Peevor; Middlesbrough) who was 15th on his debut appearance in a British vest.
In the senior women’s race, Sarah Tunstall was outside the podium places as she crossed the line in fourth position with a time of 1:03.33. The Kendal athlete was the first British counter, while the race was won overall by the Swiss athlete, Maude Mathys.
Next home for GB & NI in the senior women’s race was Emma Gould (William Laye; Mercia Fell) in 24th, followed by Rebecca Hilland (Team Bath) in 27th and Hatti Archer (Bud Baldaro; Hallamshire Harriers) coming home in 29th. The team placed fifth overall as Italy, France and Switzerland sealed the top three places on the rostrum.
In a new-look U20 women’s team, Eve Pannone (Derek Hurton; Eden Runners) produced a strong performance as she became Britain’s first counter in the race, ending up in sixth, a encouraging display on her maiden appearance for the British team.
Lauren Dickson (Andrew Henderson; Lasswade) was next back in 12th, while Florence Duff and Pippa Carcas (Edinburgh) were 23rd and 26th respectively, giving good accounts on their international debuts. The team placed fifth overall with Italy securing another title overall. The Czech Republic’s Barbora Havlickova was a dominant winner in 32:20.