12th July 2021
Foster and Cooper Claim British Ultra Trail Championships Titles
George Foster (coach: Martin Cox, club: Ambleside) and Meryl Cooper (Paul Tierney) claimed the British Athletics Ultra Trail Championship titles in impressive fashion in the Lake District on Saturday.
The event was incorporated into the Lakeland Trails 100km event, in Ambleside in the Lake District, and included 3,200 metres of ascent.
It had the added incentive of acting as the official trial event for the World Trail Championships (80km) scheduled for Thailand in November (11-14).
The first two male and female athletes overall, subject to them meeting the criteria outlined in the selection policy, were in contention for selection for the British team for the 80km trail race.
Despite a minor injury worry going into the event, Foster was always in contention, and when things had settled down after the first few kilometres, he ran together with Harry Jones (Martin Cox, Mynydd Du) up until the 65km point.
The experienced Nick Swinburn (Morpeth) with many previous GB & NI international vests at shorter mountain running races and cross country, was tackling his first long ultra-race, was just off the pace but never more than five minutes behind the leaders.
When Jones hit a bad patch around 65 km on the long climb over Grisedale to Grasmere, Foster pulled away. Swinburn remaining steady, moved up to second, as Jones took time to refuel at Grasmere.
Foster continued to set a relentless pace on the Lakeland hills that are his natural local training patch and finished in a new course record of 9:30:11.
Swinburn held his form on the last loop through Langdale to take the silver, recording 9:42:15. Jones held on for the bronze medal in 9:50:00.
In the women’s race, GB internationals Cooper and Jo Meek (Winchester, David Roche) ran the first 60km more or less together.
Meek held a slender one minute lead at Askham (45km) but Cooper took the lead on the stretch over to Glenridding (60km) where she led by four minutes. She proved stronger on the final 30km to also set a new course record of 11:32:19. Meek claimed silver in a time of 12:09:54.
Meanwhile, the race for bronze was a close affair with emerging talent, Claudia Chmielowska (Cambridge Uni Hare and Hounds) crossing the line in 12:49:55, holding off Laura Swanton, who finished in a time of 13:01:25
Full results and splits are HERE
*Photos courtesy of Keith Douglas.