CHARLOTTE Roach stunned even herself by finishing fourth and winning team gold on her first ever appearance for Great Britain at the European Cross Country Championships.
The 19-year-old from Hoole earned selection to the GB junior women’s team despite falling over twice in the trials.
When she flew out to Toro in Spain, she was met with a nightmare course.
Charlotte, who runs for Vale Royal AC, said: “I was already expecting to finish in the teens. I knew we had a good team but I wasn’t expecting us to win gold.
“When I got to Spain I was definitely unsure where I would finish because they had installed logs on the course which we don’t have here.
“They even had cameras next to them, as if they were there to catch you out and make you trip.
“Having fallen in the trials I was not looking forward to that.”
Despite the challenging nature of the course, former Christleton High School pupil Charlotte found herself in a good position early on.
“I decided to just push on and see what happened and I kept my footing and ended up finishing fourth,” she said. “I was thrilled and now I am hoping to continue that progress as I move up the age groups.”
Charlotte, a former West Cheshire AC runner, finished not far behind team-mate Stephanie Twell, who won to retain her title as GB’s juniors proved they were the best in Europe.
Next year Charlotte begins challenging at under 23 level, still a junior category at national level but senior at international.
“I will have to try out for the world senior cross country championships,” she said.
“I am unlikely to qualify but it will be good experience.”
Charlotte fits her training for cross country and her track events – the 1,500m and 3,000m – around her studies.
She is reading natural sciences at Cambridge University and says she finds balancing the two tough.
“I obviously have goals for my cross country, with earning a place in the British team chief among them, but I also want to improve my track times too,” she said.
“Natural sciences is not a course where you get time off to train though.
“It is a difficult course and I found my training an escape from study really. I was enjoying my running more than my course.”