Venables’ determination does not desert her

Mel Venables lines up with fellow competitors at the International Trail Race.

Mel Venables lines up with fellow competitors at the International Trail Race.

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Spa Striders’ Mel Venables says she would not be put off from running the Changan Ford Gobi 100k International Trail Race again despite describing it as the toughest race she has ever done.

The UK 100k Road Running champion finished seventh woman in the Marathon des Sables in 2015 so was no stranger to desert terrain.

However, conditions in the Gobi Desert in China even caught out the organisers with the strong winds and heat meaning only 15 of the 29 elite starters finished the ladies’ race.

Not that Venables was to be deterred.

She said: “I would leap at the chance (to return). Now I know what it involves I know that whatever the conditions, I could do much better.”

The race involved two 50k laps over rough, sandy terrain with Venables completing the course in 12hr 25min to claim 11th place in the women’s race.

The 41-year-old had been in the top ten after the first circuit but suffered from calf cramps which she attributed to a lack of salt.

“That was possibly the toughest race I have ever done.

“Scorching hot with no shade and so much sand and rocks.

“I had planned as much as possible with food, drinks and salt tablets, but still wasn’t quite prepared for how brutal this was going to be.

“For most of the second lap I was mostly on my own between the aid stations. However, I am proud of my performance in an international race.”

This weekend Venables will pair up with Great Britain international ultra runner Paul Fernandez for a two-day trail race in the Scottish mountains.