BOX ultra running star Damian Hall is celebrating the New Year with yet another accolade.

By Hall’s own admission, 2018 was the best year of his running career, and that has now been recognised in the publication of the Ultra Trail World Tour rankings, which places him in the top 10 for the first time.

Hall’s performances, which reached a peak with fifth in the prestigious Ultra-Trail Mont Blanc (UTMB) – a gruelling 171K race that loops through peaks and valleys around the intersection of France, Italy, and Switzerland – have earned him seventh in the world rankings.

Moreover, that makes him the highest placed British ultra runner and the best placed veteran O40 in the top 10, most of whom are full-time professional athletes.

Hall said: “It is quite an honour and was a nice extra Christmas present for me, probably the icing on the cake of what was a great year.

“The World Tour is like the Champions League of international ultra running and comprises 21 races held over the year.

“Obviously no one does them all as they are so tough, and runners generally tackle between two to five. I did just three, including the UTMB, which is the most prestigious and carries extra bonus points.

“In April, I also ran the Madeira Island Ultra Trail and finished sixth and then in June came second in the Mozart 100k in Austria.

“I think it is a runner’s best two performances of the year that count towards the final rankings. I was 17th last year and when I first started doing these races a few years ago, I could never have imagined I would have made the top 20, let alone the top 10 and finishing as top Brit.

“The Brits are all very supportive on the circuit, but I guess that gives me bragging rights for now.”

But with 2018 behind him, Hall is already plotting his race schedule for 2019, and this year that won’t include the UTMB as he looks further afield to make his mark and enhance his standing as one of the world’s top ultra trail athletes.

“My big target for 2019 in June is the Western States Endurance Run 100 miles race in California, which is the oldest 100 miles trail race in the world,” added Hall.

“But it is really hard to get an entry into this race, so I am going to have to try and pre-qualify by racing the Canyons 100K in April and finishing in the top two.

“That is a lot of extra pressure as it is costing me extra money to go over to America possibly twice this year, but I’m going to give it a go.”