Austria's Andrea Mayr produced another brilliant performance today to become the first woman to win the European Mountain Running Championships three times in succession - as she lifted the crown for the fourth occasion.
As she triumphed over 8.25km in Porto Moniz, Johan Bugge, of Norway, won the men’s 11.85km race.
There were celebrations too for Great Britain’s women who took the team title and Italy who won the men’s, while in the junior competition, Stian Overgaard Aarvik, of Norway, took the men’s as Turkey won the team prize and in the women’s, Germany’s Sarah Kistner was first and ended with team gold too.
It was back in 2005 that Mayr, now 35, won her first crown at this event when she triumphed on the mountains of home in Heiligenblut and after victories in Borovets and Gap in the last two years, she proved the unbeatable force once again today in this municipality located on the Portuguese island of Madeira.
These championships are always such a great test of speed, balance, endurance and the ability to hold your footing, and Mayr had command over the rest.
At 6km she was almost two minutes ahead of her closest challenger, Eli Anne Dvergsdal, of Norway, a gap which grew by the finish.
Mayr won in 50:40 from Dvergsdal in 53:05 with Britain’s Emma Clayton third in 53:36.
Clayton was ably supported by Victoria Wilkinson in sixth in 55:03 and Rebecca Robinson, ninth in 55:27, as Britain won the team gold with 18 points from Austria with 23 and France with 38.
Bugge strikes as Dematteis has gold reward
The men’s senior race was closer but there was no hat-trick of individual successes for Italy’s Bernard Dematteis – though he did still end the race with gold.
Bugge was too good in the second half, showing great strength because at the 5.35km pass, he shared the lead with Dematteis as they went through together at 39:45.
Just behind them in third was Switzerland’s David Schneider, 10 seconds adrift, but he pushed on to challenge Bugge as Dematteis slipped back.
At 8.15km, the Norwegian led in 50:18 from Schneider in 50:44 with Italy’s Alex Baldaccini third in 50:51, just a second ahead of teammate Dematteis.
And that was the way the top three stayed as Bugge won in 1:02:35, taking gold by 14 seconds from Schneider with Baldaccini third in 1:02:56 but there was that place on the top of the podium for Dematteis who was back in seventh in 1:03:51 with teammate Xavier Chevrier a spot ahead of him in 1:03:41.
The leading Italians combined to take the team gold with 16 points for an amazing 19th time in a row in this competition under its different guises, from Britain with 26 and Switzerland with 27.
Aarvik holds off Turkish duo
In the junior men’s race, like the senior women’s over 8.25km, Aarvik won gold in 48:17 from Turkish pair Abdullah Yorulmaz in 49:03 and Mustafa Goksel in 49:08.
And along with Sehmus Sarihan in 10th in 52:21, Turkey won the team title with 15 points from Italy with 19 and Britain with 25.
Kistner was first in the women’s junior race over 4km in 21:26 from Michaela Stranska, of the Czech Republic, in 22:10 and France’s Elsa Racasan in 22:14.
And Kistner’s second gold came as Germany took the team crown with 19 points as Annika Seefeld finished seventh in 23:02 and Nada Balcarczyk was 11th in 23:26. The Czech Republic won team silver with 22, a point ahead of bronze medallists Turkey.