MARY Wilkinson has crowned her first year of road racing by becoming a national champion.

The Long Preston rider triumphed at British Cycling's Women's Masters Championships at Oakenclough in Lancashire in the women's 35-39 age group.

The Great Britain international distance runner only took up the sport after a mysterious injury brought an end to her running career.

Wilkinson said: "The injury is very strange and very frustrating. It's a neural issue that causes a stabbing pain in my foot every step (walking & running).

"When I run that leads to my foot going numb and then my whole leg not working properly.

"No-one can seem to identify the actual cause, which could be anywhere between my foot and head along the nerves or a biomechanical problem pressing a nerve somewhere.

"It's only a major problem when I run, cycling is OK most the time with only the occasional numbness but I'm aware of the discomfort every step.

"It started the day after the World Championships in 2014 and I've battled to get it sorted and be able to run again ever since, before finally accepting that I'll probably not run again, at least competitively which was actually a relief.

"It would be nice to get diagnosed and treated from an everyday perspective."

Sixty riders took to the start line for Sunday's race and were greeted by torrential rain and blustery winds as they tackled the 50-mile course.

Wilkinson was riding for Team Jadan-Weldtite Vive le Velo & Yorkshire Road Club.

The race consisted of five laps with a significant climb to contend with as well as negotiating fast technical descents made even more precarious by the wet conditions.

After a relatively steady opening few miles, the first ascent of the climb saw the initial attacks start and although early attempts to break away didn’t stick Wilkinson remained well placed to cover them.

Entering the third lap and Wilkinson made here own attack on the climb and managed to drag several other strong riders away to form a 10-women group that worked well to build a gap that grew throughout the final two laps.

Approaching the final climb to the finish line Wilkinson attacked again and using her superior climbing ability pulled away to claim overall victory and with it the British Cycling National Champion's Jersey.