Arslan looks to make it seven of the best

European Athletics

Turkey's mountain running icon Ahmet Arslan will be looking for his seventh successive title at the European Mountain Running Championships in Borovets on Saturday. 

Turkey's Ahmet Arslan will bid for a seventh successive title at the European Mountain Running Championships on Saturday - and victory will be the perfect birthday present.

Arslan turned 27 on Wednesday and he arrives in Borovets, Bulgaria, ready to write his name further into the legend of this event.

Born into a farming family in the south of the country, Arslan has conquered some of the toughest tests in European athletics.

His amazing record began in Cauterets, France, in 2007 and he has not looked back, making it six in a row with another brilliant win with a second consecutive triumph at home in Denizli-Pamukkale 12 months ago after his glory in Bursa the previous year.

He won in 49.46, beating fellow Turkish athlete Ercan Muslu by 11 seconds with Romania's Ionut Zinca third in 50.19.

It is the 12th staging of these European Mountain Running Championships and the toughness of the course cannot be disguised for the 228 athletes from 27 European Athletics member federations.

There will be four races on Saturday - senior men, senior women, junior men and junior women - in this mountain resort where skiing is the biggest trade.

That will say everything about the uphill challenge ahead. The setting has an altitude of 1350m in the Sofia Province and in the early 1980s, the venue held rounds of skiing's World Cup.

Picturesque for the spectator, but there will be little chance to admire the scenery for the athletes and the rest of the men's field will do all they can to ensure Arslan stays with their sights.

It was only in 2005 that he changed from being a cross-country runner and he has created some reputation.

But even though Turkey had the first two places in the men's senior event last year, the team title was won by Italy as Gabriele Abate was fourth in 50.33, Marco De Gasperi was fifth in 50.49 and Xavier Chevrier was seventh in 51.23.

In 23rd was their fourth runner, Bernard Dematteis, who had won bronze in 2011 and his twin brother Martin joins him in this team as Chevrier also returns again with the fourth runner Alex Baldaccini.
Switzerland's women have won the senior title in the last two years and the 2011 champion Martina Strahl is back to bid for glory again, after her teammate Monika Furholz took gold in Denizli-Pamukkale.

Furholz beat Nadezhda Leshchinskaya and Pavla Schorna and the Russian and Czech Republic athletes are back to chase for the main prize.

Britain's women won the team title in 2012 and their team of 16 is from the first four finishers from each race at their trials in Keswick in May.

Looking to defend the women's crown will be Emma Clayton, who was sixth in the individual race last year, Olivia Walwyn, Rebecca Robinson and Sarah Tunstall and returning in the junior women's event is defending champion Annabel Mason, 16, who triumphed in Turkey in 20.25 and was a comfortable winner of the British trials.

In the men's junior race, the youngest in the field is Turkey's Ramazan Karagoz, who was 16 only in April, and his country will be among the favourites for this event.


Senior Men
Senior Women
Junior Men
Junior Women