MELKSHAM-BORN runner Matt Battensby celebrated his debut in the Rough ’n’ Tumble 10-mile multi terrain race with an emphatic victory, writes KEVIN FAHEY.

The 29-year-old former George Ward School student (now Melksham Oak Community) took control of the race early on and finished over two minutes clear of Daunstey’s School teacher Allister Sheffield.

“I ran fairly hard from the start but I was conscious it was a difficult course so I wanted to save a bit for the end,” said Battensby.

“It was a tough course and really boggy so I think we all came back plastered in mud.

“But it was very well organised, well marshalled and there was a really good atmosphere with all those cakes in the (Milton Lilbourne) village hall. It was a really good event.”

Battensby does not run for an athletics club but competes for Burges Salmon Running Club, a Bristol-based law company where he works.

He may return to Melksham for the Wiltshire 10 mile road race next month but his short-term goal is the Bath Half-Marathon in March.

“All my training is geared towards the Manchester Marathon in April when I will be hoping to go under 2hrs 40mins,” added Battensby, who set his personal best of 2:49.31 on the tough Snowdonia race last year.

Sheffield made it a county one-two in one of Wiltshire’s most popular races – it has been sold out for the past four years – as the Dauntsey’s teacher enjoyed his best result since the early months of 2011, when he was enjoying a rich vein of form.

“I haven’t done much in the past two years because I have had two children and have also been injured so it has been a while since I have run properly,” said Sheffield.

“But since last August I have manage to start training regularly and in this last week I did the Running Bath 5k and then the Rough ’n’ Tumble for the first time.

“It was a tough, challenging race with three or four really big hills and was probably as wet as it could be. It was nice to compete again at the local level and be competitive.”

The race at Milton Lilbourne went ahead having been under the threat of cancellation after recent flooding.

Organiser Steve Goulding said: “After a few dry days, and with the sterling efforts of the village to supply alternative parking, the race went ahead as planned with the entry full to capacity.’

“Once again, the Milton Lilbourne Village Hall committee and residents provided a huge amount of cakes for the runners and helped with the marshalling and parking. Without them, the event just would not be possible.’’

In the women’s race, last year’s winner, Fay Cripps, of Chichester Runners, retained her title in 1.18.12, setting a new course record for her veterans 35 age category.

She was more than five minutes in front of second-placed Susanne Enhard, of Compton Harriers, who finished in 1.23.41, closely followed by Marlborough’s Emma Hayles in 1.24.01.

Competition was strong between local clubs, with Chippenham Harriers fielding 29 runners, Slinn Allstars 26, Swindon Striders 25 and Avon Valley Runners 18.

Team prizes went to Marlborough AC’s men, with Swindon Striders picking up the ladies’ accolade.

Roll of Honour

Male: 1 Matthew Battensby, Burgess Salmon Running Club, 1.06.53; 2 Allister Sheffield, Team Bath AC, 1.08.14; 3 Denis Galerin, Cirencester AC, 1.08.48.

Female: 1 Fay Cripps, Chichester Runners, 1.18.12; 2 Susanne Enhard, Compton Harriers, 1.23.41; 3 Emma Hayles, Marlborough AC, 1.24.01.

Male vet 40: 1 Justin Ashby, Sidmouth Running Club, 1.12.36. Vet 50: Bob Pearce, Army Tri, 1.20.47; Vet 60: Geoff Anderson, Newbury AC, 1.28.12.

Female vet 35: 1 Fay Cripps, Chichester Runners, 1.18.12; Female vet 45: Susanne Enhard, Compton Harriers, 1.23.41; Female 55: Vanessa Hawkins, Bitton Road Runners,

Full race results available at