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Devil Take the Hindmost 2016

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Dalbeattie 10K Half Marathon 2016

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Criffel Hill Race 2017

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The 2017 World Trail Championships

13/06/2017

The 2017 World Trail Championships were held in the Appenine Mountains in Italy, and Joasia Zakrzewski was part of a 10-strong GB team (4 men and 6 ladies) who joined a total of 288 athletes from 38 nations in the competition.

The 49 km circular course climbed over 3100m in the ancient sacred forests around Bada Prataglia. The GB team left the monastery where they were staying bright and early for the compulsory kit check prior to the 8am start.

The race started at an altitude of 865m with the highest point being 1351m (and lowest 450m) and so the initial steep climb of a mile and half soon had the field strung out. The steeper climbs came in the second half of the race, which unfortunately coincided with the more exposed parts of the course and the heat of the day.

Jo hadn't had the ideal buildup so went into the race with the idea of running an enjoyable conservative first half and then seeing if she could push on on the second half. This seemed to work well, as she ran into the 23k aid station with team mate Sally and they worked together on the climbs so reel in some of their opponents in the team competition. Due to the heat of the day, there were many extra marshals out on the course providing water, though all of them seemed amused when Sally and Jo asked for it to be poured on their heads rather than drinking it.

The American ladies had been hoping for a team bronze medal which GB had won in 2016 (the first 3 runners' times from each nation counted for the team results), but once all 6 Brits were ahead of the 3rd US lady this rivalry seemed to have been decided. Just after the 35k water station, Jo caught up with Matt Roberts, one of the British men, who was not having a good run.

Knowing that, as 5th Brit, her time wouldn't count in the team competition Jo decided to do all she could to help Matt to cross that finish line in what was his first GB vest. Together they slowly climbed the hot exposed 6km up to the manned feed station (including a small roped section across a scree slope) where Matt took a 15minute breather. With some small (!) amount of encouragement he agreed to carry on and they managed the last 3 km of uphill followed by the punishing finish.....5km of steep downhill.....crossing the line together holding a Union Jack aloft in a time of 6 hours 31.  On the line, Jo apologised to Matt for making him endure 15k of encouragement, nagging, chivvying and banter, but he thanked her for her team spirit as he said that he definitely wouldn't have finished if left to his own devices.

In the end, the Europeans were just too strong on the course as the British ladies were pipped for the bronze medal by the Spanish team (the French ladies won while the Italians took silver) and the British men were 9th, but everyone enjoyed (more or less) the experience of running in such a beautiful place.

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