IN her first race of the year, Jade Littlechild has been crowned Wiltshire 10k champion.

The successful return to action marks a heart-warming comeback for the 18-year-old in her home town race – the Corsham 10k, which incorporated the county championships – on Sunday.

Littlechild’s success appears to have at last drawn a line under a miserable six months during which she was diagnosed as being anaemic and, for the first time in ages, she can start making plans for the future.

“It has been six months that I would describe as being typical of the life of being an athlete,” said Littlechild.

“It was back in May that I collapsed after finishing a 1,500m race, in which I couldn’t remember anything of the last 400 metres.

“I was taken into an ambulance and given sugar tables while they insisted I rested to make sure I was OK, although I wasn’t taken to hospital.

“After that, I went for blood test and it was found my iron levels were really low. In fact, my levels measured only 13 when they should have been closer to 70. That explained why I was feeling so bad.”

Littlechild raced a few more times last summer but eventually wisely decided to take a long break to get herself healthy, and Sunday’s race was her first serious taste of action since the English Schools’ Championships last July.

“I have been back training for the past two or three months, although nothing specific for 10k races. But being a Corsham girl, I thought this would be a good place to start and see what happens,” said Littlechild.

“I am very happy to be crowed Wiltshire champion.”

Littlechild did it the hard way, overtaking defending champion Bethan Francis, of Avon Valley Runners, in the final 400m as she surged from fourth to second overall in the women’s race.

Ironically, the overall women’s winner, junior Amy Richards, is an ex-Corsham School student and lives in Box but isn’t a member of a club and wasn’t registered for the Wiltshire Championships.

Francis had to settle for the county silver this year, with AVR clubmate Gemma Knudson taking bronze.

In the men’s race, Calne Running Club’s Simon Nott secured his seventh successive victory and eighth in nine years.

Tom Davies, of Team Bath AC, was county runner-up, with Royal Wootton Bassett Hounds’ Ben Gregory third.