IT says much about the competitive temperament of Kiya Dee that she even made the trip to Bournemouth for the South West Schools’ Cross Country Championships, writes Kevin Fahey.

Despite illness and a cold, which both she and sister Taya were suffering from, the Highworth Running Club athlete didn’t want to let down her Gloucestershire team-mates for one of the big meetings of the season.

Neither was she too precious about protecting her unbeaten record this season. Dee is more than happy to put her reputation on the startline and take on whoever turns up.

At Kings Park she, was up against the formidable Wiltshire champion Bea Wood - against whom she has enjoyed some tremendous battles in the past.

This winter they have mostly avoided each other as Wood is a year older.

But schools’ competitions are organised differently, so Dee found herself up against Wood in the inter girls’ race - and the Wiltshire girl from Salisbury more than justified her pre-race status as favourite with an emphatic victory.

Dee never gave up the chase despite feeling far from her best and still managed to dig out a hard-earned silver medal.

She said: “I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to run against the top athletes of the south west.

“Bea set a blistering pace from the off and Kaitlyn (Shepherd, her Gloucestershire team-mate) and I drove each other on.

“Coming second felt like a victory in this exceptional company.”

If Dee’s silver was the highlight of the day for local runners – and Wood was the only individual medallist for Wiltshire – there were still several other fine performances.

One of which came from Commonweal School’s Kelly-Marie Marsh.

She enjoyed one of her best runs of the winter to finish 15th and fourth county scorer in that inter girls’ race to help Wiltshire win the team silver medals behind Avon and just ahead of Dee’s Gloucestershire.

There was a lot of local interest in the junior boys’ race with Swindon Harriers’ Fletcher Hart, who was racing for Gloucestershire, finishing an excellent fifth in a competitive field.

Wiltshire champion Josh Burns also continued his fine season with a hard-earned 10th place.

Moreover, Burns led the Wiltshire squad to the team silver medals.

Ella Spencer, representing Gloucestershire, was fifth in the minor girls’ race while in the junior girls’ age group Ridgeway’s Freya Davidse thrived in the conditions to finish top Wiltshire runner in 21st.

In the minor girls’ race the Abbey Park School pair of Zinia and Zarah Wood did well to place 10th and 11th respectively.