WILTSHIRE ultra distance specialist Damian Hall showed he still has some speed in his legs as he retained his Over The Hills title.

Box-based Hall has acquired an international reputation for his long distance exploits, which are measured in hours if not days, but he likes to keep his hand in with the short stuff and support the local county scene.

So in his first race since a career-best finish of fifth place in the 171k Ultra-Trail Mont Blanc (UTMB) through France, Italy, and Switzerland two months ago, Hall popped down the road to Bradford-on-Avon for one of his favourite races and had to call upon all his experience to see off his younger rivals.

“I was delighted not just to retain my title but also run 20-30 seconds quicker than last year,” said Hall, who is a member of Corsham Running Club.

“Also there were some speedy youngsters around me and I had to work really hard to get by them.

“They were much faster than me on the flat but going up and downhill I had the edge.”

Hall was lying third until the final quarter of the 12k event and knew he had to make a decisive move if he was to keep hold of his title.

“With around two miles to go there was a tough climb and downhill so I put in a big effort and caught the other two guys to take the lead,” added Hall.

“I knew I needed as big an advantage as possible from those hills before the flat run-in to the finish and I was literally racing eye-balls out to stay in front because I could sense someone very close behind me.”

Former Team Devizes runner Harry Palmer chased hard to close the gap but finished seven seconds adrift in second with Max Hazell half a minute further adrift in third as the top three finished well clear of the 300-strong field.

“It is a great event and winning a big cake is a real bonus, I was very nice and tasty!” added Hall.

The Team Bath pair of Lizzie Wraith and Laura Backhouse claimed a one-two in the women’s race with Corsham teenager Jade Littlechild enjoying a good work-out to finish fourth overall and top junior.

Avon Valley Runners’ Anita Mellowdew was fifth and first veteran over 40.