RELISHING the mud and hills on a tough and traditional cross country course, Lillie Bellamy won the under 20 women’s gold medal at the England Athletics South West Cross Country Championships, writes KEVIN FAHEY.

The 17-year-old Swindon Harrier went one better than her silver 12 months ago with a very strong run to finish eighth overall in a strong senior women’s field, who braved tough conditions at the new course in the grounds of the National Trust property at Killerton House, just north of Exeter.

“I think that is quite an improvement from Lillie and shows she is making progress which is very encouraging,” said coach Neil England.

“She has been training well recently and is coming along quite nicely.

“We just want to make sure she reaches top form in March and doesn’t get ill like she did last year.”

Bellamy’s silver in the 2013 championships should have been the perfect springboard for a good second half of the season but illness struck and the Cirencester College student didn’t do herself justice.

On the evidence of Sunday’s run, which was a severe test of strength and stamina in heavy mud and drizzle, Bellamy is again moving in the right direction and is in a good place to enjoy a terrific 2014.

Bellamy’s gold was one of two won by Wiltshire athletes with the other success coming from Melksham Oak schoolboy Will Stockley in the under 15 boys’ race.

There were no medals for Kirsty and Luke Roberts but the pair are unlikely to ever forget their debuts in the event.

The brother and sister from Malmesbury were in the Wiltshire team that travelled down to Devon for the muddiest competition in the history of the championships.

“That was really tough and the hills were horrible,” said 14-year-old Kirsty, who with her brother is a student at Malmesbury School.

“But I think I ran okay and I am very pleased to come 19th. It was a really good experience and I enjoyed it. I love running no matter what the weather.”

Kirsty, who lives in the village of Crudwell, coped exceptionally well with the conditions as she finished in the top 20 from a 50-strong field, making her the third county runner.