Arslan and Strähl rule mountains in Telfes im Stubai

ahmet_arsalan1.jpg
Turkish Ahmet Arslan completed a hat-trick
of title wins taking the men's crown at the
8th European Mountain Running Championships 
at Telfes im Stubai in Austria on Sunday.
Two-time defending champion Ahmet Arslan of Turkey completed a hat-trick by winning the men's title at the 8th European Mountain Running Championships in the Austrian village of Telfes im Stubai on Sunday.

The gold medal in the senior women's category went to the 22-year-old Swiss mountain runner Martina Strähl.

Hundreds of supporters gathered around the 11-kilometer route to cheer for best mountain runners from 25 countries across Europe. The senior men had to negotiate not just the tortuous 11-kilometre route but also an altitude in excess of 1300 metres.

Reigning champion Ahmet Arslan lead the field from the start and maintained it to the finish. Although he received stiff challenge from Italian runner Marco de Gaspari, Swiss Sebastien Epinay and Timo Zeiler of Germany but Arslan kept his cool when it mattered most. With a timing of 58 minutes and 26 seconds he crossed the finish line well ahead of the rest of the pack.

He was followed home by Italian Marco de Gaspari and Swiss Sebastien Epinay who finished second and third respectively. The team title went to Italy, while France and Turkey finished second and third.

In the senior women's race, 22-year-old Swiss mountain runner Martina Strähl pipped Italian Valentina Belotti in the closing stages to take the top prize.

To conquer the 9.5 kilometres route, Strähl needed 54 minutes and 39 seconds, while Belotti finished the course in 55min and 28 seconds. The bronze medal went to the Austrian world champion Andrea Mayr who finished in 56:55.00.

The Italian women emulated their male counterparts to conquer the women's team title.  The Switzerland team spearheaded by Martina Strähl finished second while Great Britain finished third.

The junior category, which was introduced for the first time attracted high participation and great support from the audience. Turkey stamped its superiority in the junior category winning both the boy's and girl's title.

Yusuf Alici became the first junior champion completing the course in 50 minutes and 29 seconds. The Turkish girls captured all the three podium places with Derya Altintas, Elif Karabulut and Yasemin Can finishing in first, second and third place respectively.

Romania fielded only junior athletes and finished runner's up behind Turkey in team classification in the girl's category. The third place went to Great Britain.

In the junior boy's category the team title was won by Italy, Norway and Great Britain followed in second and third place respectively.