3rd June 2024


Great Britain and Northern Ireland secured a stunning medal haul of 12 from the European Off-Road Running Championships which took place in Annecy, France over the weekend [31 May-2 June].

Joe Steward (Salford Harriers) claimed his maiden European title in the senior men’s uphill mountain race, with Jacob Adkin (Robbie Simpson, Keswick AC) sealing the individual silver. Their performances were backed up by the rest of the squad to take the team gold medal overall.

There was another team gold for the senior women in the up-and-down mountain race, with five more team medals coming across the Championships. Scout Adkin (Angela Mudge, Ambleside AC) took silver in the senior women’s uphill race, while Eve Whitaker (Jack Maitland, University of Leeds) also starred as she claimed two individual medals: a silver in the uphill mountain race and a bronze in the up-and-down mountain race.

Steward was the star of the show in the senior men’s uphill mountain race as he produced the performance of his career to seal the European title by a distance. The Salford Harrier was eighth in the world last year, and showed his fine progression over the terrain as he battled the tough course – 7.6km with 990 metres of climb – to win by over a minute from his compatriot in 42:37.

Adkin joined his teammate on the podium after a superb run saw him almost 30 seconds ahead of Germany’s Lukas Ehrle who grabbed bronze. With Kris Jones (Doug Stewart, Swansea Harriers) 10th and Finlay Grant (Dark Peak Fell Runners) in 17th, the team secured the gold overall by a clear margin ahead of Switzerland and France.

The senior women’s uphill mountain race saw a brace of silvers for Scout Adkin and the team overall. Adkin battled well to another European medal as she finished around a minute a half behind Germany’s Nina Engelhard to reach the podium.

Solid displays from Sara Willhoit (Mercia Fell Runners), Scarlet Dale (self-coached, Helm Hill Runners) and Elle Twentyman (self-coached, Rugby & Northampton) in seventh, 13th and 15th respectively, saw the GB & NI team finish in second spot, just four points behind France.

The junior uphill mountain races kicked off the proceedings on Friday (31) morning with Eve Whitaker taking the first medal of the Championships for the British squad. After finishing sixth at the 2022 edition, the Yorkshire athlete moved up the leaderboard here to secure the silver medal behind Julia Ehrle of Germany.

With the battle for places behind the medallists hotting up, every position counted with team medals on the line. Sixth for Isla Hedley (Ross Cairns, Edinburgh University Hare and Hounds), 10th for Lauren Russell (Hannah Viner, Highgate) and 11th for Amelie Lane (Sally Malir, Wharfedale) saw the team take silver, just one point behind France who had three athletes in the top nine.

The U20 men’s uphill race saw the GB & NI team take team bronze. Edward Hobbs (Ilkley Harriers) was the leading Briton in the field in fourth place with Switzerland’s Matthieu Buhrer taking the gold. Thomas Hilton (Ross Grieve, Moorfoot Runners) was next across the line in 6th, while Alex Poulston (Wirral AC) was the third and final counter in 10th. Jack Sanderson (Alistair Scholey, Settle Harriers) was closely behind in 11th place.

Day two [1 June] saw the trail athletes in action taking on a challenging 58.2km trail with 3380m climbing and 3450m in the French Alps.

Thomas Roach (Lewes AC), the reigning world short trail individual silver medallist, just missed out on the podium in fourth place as the French team took 1-2-3 with Thomas Cardin taking the win in 4:58:22. Roach was two minutes off bronze in 5:09:51. Luke Grenfell-Shaw (Bristol and West) was next home in 32nd with James Tilley the third counter in 41st. Tom Joly de Lotbiniere (Team Hour 7) did not finish as the team finished seventh overall.

The women’s race saw Holly Page (self-coached, Calder Valley Fell Runners) first for the British quartet in 25th in 6:41:30, with Katie Kaars Sijpesteijn (Roundhay Runners) 35th, Georgia Tindley (Angela Mudge, Highland Hill Runners) 39th and Meryl Cooper (Doug Stewart, Deeside Runners) 43rd as the team ended the race in ninth overall. France’s Clementine Geoffray led home a 1-2-3-4 for the home country as they signed off the team gold in style.

On the final day (2 June) of action in Annecy, the mountain runners were back for the up-and-down classic races.

The senior women shone brightly in their race as they took home the team gold medal by one point from Switzerland after three top 11 finishers.

Scout Adkin was again in fine form as she returned from her uphill silver to bag fourth in this race, just an agonising three seconds outside the bronze medal position which went to Romania’s Monica Madalina Florea. Her teammates packed well behind with Naomi Lang (Lewis Walker, Carnethy Hill Racing Club) in fifth and Eve Pannone (Derek Hurton, Ambleside AC) in 11th. Despite a DNF for Scarlet Dale (self-coached, Helm Hill Runners), the team still secured the title and a trip to the top of the rostrum.

There was a team silver for the senior men in their up-and-down race, with Joe Steward again the leading Briton, this time crossing the line in fifth, narrowly ahead of Kris Jones in sixth. Jacob Adkin returned to the mountains with a 15th place finish, while Ben Rothery (Sarah McCormack, Ilkley Harriers) was one place further back in 16th. Switzerland’s Roberto Delorenzi took the honours overall, while France took team gold, just two points ahead of GB & NI.

Following her uphill silver, Eve Whitaker was back amongst the medals as she matched her 2022 bronze medal in the U20 up-and-down race. It was a real battle for the Yorkshire woman as she fought hard to get bronze ahead of Italy’s Lucia Arnaldo. Georgia Bell (Leven Valley AC) was 8th, with Amelie Lane (Sally Malir, Wharfedale) and Isla Paterson (Neil Renton, Gala Harriers) in 11th and 14th respectively to guide the team to the silver medal overall.

There was a fifth-place finish for the U20 men’s quartet in the up-and-down race. Scottish athlete Angus Wright (Edinburgh University Hare and Hounds) was the first Brit across the finish line in seventh, while Sam Bentham (Ilkley Harriers) was the second counter in 16th. Jonathon Downey (Susan Ballantyne / Graham Cairns, Kilmarnock Harriers) was 21st with Jack Sanderson (Alastair Scholey, Settle Harriers) next in 25th.


Great Britain and Northern Ireland Medal Tally:

Gold (3): Joe Steward [Senior Men’s Uphill], Senior Men’s Team [Uphill], Senior Women’s Team [Up-and-Down]

Silver [7]: Jacob Adkin [Senior Men’s Uphill], Scout Adkin [Senior Women’s Uphill], Eve Whitaker [U20 Women’s Uphill], Senior Men’s Team [Up-and-Down], Senior Women’s Team [Uphill], U20 Women’s Team [Up-and-Down], U20 Women’s Team [Uphill]

Bronze [2]: Eve Whitaker [U20 Women’s Up-and=Down], U20 Men’s Team [Uphill]