TWO Cumbrian athletes helped Team GB to gold at the European Mountain Running Championships in Slovenia.

Kendal AC’s Sarah Tunstall finished in second place in the 8.5km race at Kamnik.

And Victoria Wilkinson, of Sedbergh, finished fifth to help the team retain the title they won in 2015.


Tunstall took the silver medal with a time of 50:51 over a route which included more than 1,000 metres of ascent, finishing 81 seconds behind Swiss runner Maude Mathys. Wilkinson finished the race in 54:05.

Tunstall, who lives at Kirkby Stephen but now spends most of the year in France, said the achievement far succeeded her expectations for the race on Saturday.

“I’m still in shock,” she said. “I was not expecting that all. I felt as though I was in the best shape I’ve ever been but I only really thought the bronze was up for grabs. My plan was to aim for that but I when I was running in second I thought it was well above and beyond anything I’d expected. I’m so happy.”

She credits her surprise result to an early arrival in the Slovenian mountains to recce the course as well as and arduous training routine she described as ‘nearly full time’.

“It is a big sacrifice but it’s not a chore because I love running in the mountains,” added Tunstall. “When I pull off a result like Saturday it makes it all worth it.”

Tunstall also paid tribute to her team-mates in Kendal. Despite not representing the team on British soil since February, she regularly hits the hills in her Kendal AC vest.

She said. “It’s a big club for me and I love running in my vest because it makes me feel proud.

“It means so much to me because of the great people in Kendal who I’ve known for years who give a lot of support.”

n In the under-20s men’s race, Kendal’s Chris Richards finished 15th as Team GB took sixth place. Cumberland Fell Runners’ Joe Dugdale was eighth, Josh Boyle (Ribble Valley Harriers) 28th, and Elliott Mattier (Border Harriers) 31st.