Mounsey is best of British in Italy

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Ben Mounsey’s superb season reached new heights with a scorching performance for Great Britain in Italy last weekend.

The Calder Valley Fell Runners member was selected to take part in the Trofeo Vanoni relay in Morbegno after his brilliant run at Snowdon recently.

Brooksbank School teacher Mounsey teamed up with established stars Rob Hope and Tom Adams.

The race is a prestigious three lap relay which climbs steeply up almost 2000ft above the town before a madcap descent back to the finish.

France, GB and some of the Italian teams began as favourites. Each member does a leg each before handing over to their partner.

The race was televised, with more than 10,000 people spectating en route.

GB had only ever won once. This year 155 teams took part.

By the time of Ben’s handover, Rob Hope had expertly guided GB up to second place.

Ben, on the finishing leg, had the unenviable task of racing course record holder Alex Baldaccini (Italy) and Juliet Rancon of France.

Rancon had a comfortable lead and couldn’t be caught. He ran 30:49 - the fourth fastest leg.

There was a battle of epic proportions between Mounsey and Baldaccini.

The Italian closed in on the long climb but Ben out-descended him on a crazy downhill section, recording a time going down which was only 11 seconds away from the descent record.

Baldaccini caught Mounsey on the flat run in to the finish before Mounsey hit the afterburners and outsprinted him in the final 100m to take second place.

Mounsey, understandably elated by the result, exclaimed: “It was unreal! Baldaccini ran 28:48 and the quickest time of the day. I ran an unbelievable 30:21, which was the second quickest of the day! “

It was also the third ever quickest time by a GB athlete in the history of the competition.

Mounsey said: “That’s my greatest result to date, given the fact Janu and Baldaccini are ranked 10th and 11th in the world.”

Jackie and Phil Scarf, Cragg Vale’s formidable adventure racing couple, added the prestigious Original Mountain Marathon prize to their bulging trophy cabinet at the weekend.

The duo won the mixed prize on the ‘Long Score’, which consists of two days of running while trying to visit as many controls as possible.

The event was held in the beautiful Tweedsmuir Hills in the Scottish Borders, where the terrain consisted of steep grassy slopes with swathes of heather, plus the usual imponderable of the Scottish weather.

While there is a kit list to adhere to everything has to be as light as possible: this means sleeping on bubble wrap and eating dehydrated food.

Whereas in the BBC’s Apprentice, the sleepy candidates are woken by Alan Sugar’s early morning phone call, the protagonists in the OMM were woken by a lone bagpiper, shattering the Caledonian calm.

A drone camera hovered overhead filming the apprehension below but there was no fear of boardroom reprisals for Team Scarfe as they won comfortably.