Fell Running: English challenge reaches new peak: Rob Howard reports from Snowdonia

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The Independent Online
CAROL GREENWOOD'S record-breaking win in the Snowdon International Mountain race has served notice of her intention to regain the world title she last won in 1986.

That year she set the previous record for the 10-mile race from Llanberis to the 3,560ft summit and back in a time of 1hr 14min 36sec. No other international runner has come within two minutes of that time, but yesterday the Calder Valley athlete, unbeaten this season, set the astonishing time of 1:12:48. She led England to an impressive clean sweep in the international category.

After victories in both the Ben Nevis and Three Peaks races and a comfortable win in the World Cup Selection Race, Greenwood said: 'I was aiming at the record and knew it was possible when I reached the top in 47:07, about 20 seconds faster than in 1986. Coming down I was much faster but lost the skin of my left heel which was painful when I reached the road near the finish.' Behind her Janet Kenyon, 1:16:27, and Kathryn Drake, 1:20:39, completed a clean sweep for England.

Ian Holmes, of Bingley Harriers, led the English men's team to victory with first, second and fourth places in a race contested by the home countries, Ireland, the Netherlands, Slovenia, the Czech Republic and the world champions, Italy. A weakened Italian team were no threat but the Czech runner, Vladislav Raim, led to the summit, astonishing weekend walkers and passengers on the mountain railway at the side of the path by powering to the top in 41min 32sec. The train takes an hour for the same journey.

Mark Croasdale, a former Royal Marine, aiming for a third consecutive win, was second to the top with Holmes fifth in 42:55, but a fearless descent won Holmes the race. The five-mile run down a path littered with rocks took him 21:19 - only four seconds outside the record - and his time of 1:04:14 deprived Croasdale of his title by just seven seconds.

The descent took its toll of the 395 finishes with many cut and bruised from falls. The Slovenian team, paid for by the race sponsors, Nuclear Electric, had four runners fall, perhaps tired after a two-and-a-half-day drive and arriving at 2am the morning of the race.

Ironically, Croasdale lost after recording his fastest descent and finishing times and, like Greenwood, he was looking forward to the World Cup at Gap, France in September. 'The ladies team are running superbly and the competition among the men is the best for many years. In 1991 I won this race by one and half minutes in a slower time. On this form the English team could claim a clean sweep of World Cup medals.'