Britain has a new distance running world champion in the form of Ricky Lightfoot. Although the Cumbrian is less heralded than his GB track running counterpart Mo Farah, he demonstrated equal fortitude in winning the IAU World Trail Championships in North Wales at the weekend.
Saturday's race covered a monstrous 77k of off road running in the Gwydyr Forest terrain in blistering heat. In the men's race, Lightfoot covered the course in 5:36:03, nearly 10 minutes clear of silver medallist Florian Neuschwander of Germany in 5:45:16. Bronze went to Julien Rancon of France in 5:54:21.
Afterwards, Lightfoot said: "I am glad that is over! The heat and the route were really, really hard today, and I was always aware that there were some great athletes behind me, so I couldn't really relax. There were some time checks on the course, but I was also never really sure of just how far behind the guys were, so I just ran my own race and concentrated on finishing strong. I really can't quite believe it to be honest, being world champion is something you only dream of, it will take a while to sink in!"
Lightfoot's triumph crowned a great day for the hosts as Great Britain & Northern Ireland also collected the men's team title from France and Germany. In the women's race, France dominated with Natalie Mauclair and Aurelia Truel bagging gold and silver, clocking 6:38:45 and 6:55:51 respectively. Bronze went to Maria Chiara Parigi of Italy in 7:00:30. France also won the women's team title ahead of Italy, with Great Britain and Northern Ireland collecting another medal in third.