Heather battles gruelling Connemara course

Heather Foundling-Hawker has battled the IAU World trail championships at the Connemara National Park Ireland and finished third, assuring GB a fourth place team finish.

At a 5am start, athletes from 20 participating countries lined up at the start at Kylemore Abbey, running in open moorland, peat bogs, incorporating four ascents two of Diamond Hill 442 metres high in fog and mist, followed by expansive panoramic views of the 12 Ben mountains, and Kylemore Lough, later to be encountered in the 50 mile trial race.

Carrying a safety whistle, windcheater jacket and with umpteen sweets in hand, the teams of up to six set off, three members’ scores to count.

Heather finished the gruelling climbs and depths of peat bogs as third team member home, enabling the GB team to secure fourth position, just missing out on team Bronze.

She said: "It was both awe-inspiring and horrendous. I fell over 26 times, some spectacular skids in the peat bogs and returned covered in midges but loved every moment, even the descent of Benbaun mountain , 729m having to find little orange markers to locate the route.”

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“The major medals had been won by the French and Italians respectively. The helicopters and marshals in the form of army men in orange jackets had been withdrawn, leaving a handful of us on the mountain to negotiate our way home. Without the aid of map and compass, or route map this proved pretty tricky. Heather, after coming to an unmarshalled T junction, chose the wrong direction and had to wait until the Spanish team came off the mountain to follow them home. They should have stayed on duty. After all, we all completed within the time limit to attain a world finishing standard in fell and mountain trail running.

“Channel 4 filmed the event with a view to air as a trail race run documentary later in the year. Heather's next travels see her compete in the Trans de Gaule 18 stage foot race 1150km across France starting at Roscoff in the north and finishing at Gruissan de Plage in the south in two weeks time !

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