WILTSHIRE ultra distance Great Britain international ace Damian Hall returned to action with a thumping victory in one of his favourite races on the county circuit, writes KEVIN FAHEY.

The Box-based runner made the short trip to Bradford on Avon for the Over The Hills 12k event to mark his return to action after taking off two months following his monumental effort in the 170k Ultra Trail Du Mont Blanc in which he finished 12th, first Brit and top veteran over 40.

“It was always my intention to have two months rest after the Mont Blanc event although I was still running but only four times a week and just gentle stuff to tick over to make sure I didn’t lose all my fitness,” said Hall

“The Over The Hills is one of my favourite races but I had no idea beforehand whether I would still be feeling tired from the Mont Banc (which was 22 hours of continuous racing) or would be super fresh.

“There was also the fact that it is a much shorter event than I normally run so I didn’t know if I could keep up with the younger, faster guys!”

But what 41-year-old Hall may lack in leg speed he more than makes up with in strength, stamina and experience and after a steady start he reeled in the early leader Max Hazel of Zoot Athlos (a triathlon club) and eventually finished 32 seconds clear.

“There is a river crossing followed by a climb and that is where I caught the leader,” added Hal.

“I then broke clear on a downhill section before hitting the canal path and then I resisted the temptation to look over my shoulder because this was another fast section and I thought he might be catching me.

“But I had a big enough gap and I was delighted to win having finished second two years ago. It is a great race, very well marshalled and for me it is so nice to get away from the really long stuff and do well in the shorter events.”

Hall will next test himself against some of the best men in Wiltshire at the renowned Bromham Christmas Pud 10k next month before turning his attention back to his next ultra target.

“I have been invited to race the Ice Ultra five-stage race in the Swedish Arctic in February next year which will involve a lot of snow and ice so should be quite interesting,” said Hall.

Fourth overall from a field of 302 runners ensured that Ruth Barnes of Avon Valley Runners was a comfortable winner of the women’s race with Wells City Harriers’ Clare Prosser and with Jo Mumford and Vanessa Lucas in support also won the team prize.

But arguably the best result in the women’s race came from Jade Littlechild as the 17-year-old Wiltshire Schools’ champion from Corsham showed great stamina to finish an impressive third.

Over The Hills 12k multi terrain race

Men: 1 Damian Hall (Corsham RC, M40) 45:56; 2 Max Hazell (Zoot Athlos) 46:28; 3 Doug Hall (T3 Triathlon) 48:18; 4 Ruth Barnes(AVR) 48:42.

Veterans - M40: Trevor Batey (Chippenham). M45: Guy Landon (TB). M50: Mark Mackintosh (TB). M55: Niall Urquhart (TB). M60: David Vaudin (TB). M70: Peter Lee (Frome).

Teams: 1 Team Bath.

Women: 1 Ruth Barnes (AVR) 48:42; 2 Clare Prosser (Wells) 54:03; 3 Jade Littlechild (Team Bath, U20) 55:19.

Teams: 1 Avon Valley Runners.

Veterans - W40: Victoria Ratcliffe (Somer AC). W45: Joe Munford (AVR). W50: Ann Kelly (Langport). W55: Yvonne Cox. W60: Teresa Lvern (Somer). 302 finishers.