Venables is awarded top honour by the county

Mel Venables approaches the finish line at the UK 100k.

Mel Venables approaches the finish line at the UK 100k.

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Spa Striders’ Mel Venables has been awarded the Warwickshire County AA (WCAA) Endurance Award, given in recognition of the best performance by a Warwickshire athlete anywhere in the world in 2016.

WCAA president Stewart Barnes chose Venables following her victory in the UK 100k in Perth, Scotland in March.

Representing England and in only her second race at the distance, Venables crossed the line first in 8hr 15min 54sec.

The award came as a surprise to Venables who did not even realise she had been nominated.

She said: “It’s been a year of running ups and downs, injury and disappointment, hard graft and rewards.

“I have had running opportunities this year that I feel really privileged to have been given and this is just a wonderful way to finish the year.

“I am thrilled for ultra running that I have won the award - as a sport it does not get a huge amount of recognition so I hope this will raise the profile a little bit.”

Venables is coached by Les Barnett, who guided Sue Harrison to the WCAA’s top accolade in 2011 and 2013.