Ulverston Tri Club member Renell Brennan won the ETU Cross Triathlon European Championships in Targu Mares, Romania, for women aged 45-49 after a superb running stage that allowed her to hold off Spaniard Beatriz Molina Garcia.

The former Walney School teacher bettered her result from the same competition two years ago, when she finished second behind Great Britain teammate Claire Hitchings.

Brennan, nicknamed ‘pocket rocket’ by her clubmates, had a difficult start to the race in Transylvania, as she went out too fast in the opening 1km swimming stage.

Struggling to breathe, the 49-year-old had to breaststroke the rest of the stage, leaving her with ground to make up by the time she reached the transition for the cycling stage.

As this was a Cross Triathlon, this took place off-road and took in hills and woodlands.

This was where Brennan came into her own, as she rode uphill while the rest of field chose to walk their bikes up the difficult climb, which allowed her to catch up with Molina Garcia, who had finished five minutes ahead of her at the World Championships in Pontevedra in April.

There was then a cat and mouse battle between the two for the remainder of the 23.4km cycling stage, with Brennan making up any ground the Spaniard gained uphill.

The two were even encouraging each other along the way, although Brennan feared she’d have nothing left by the 6.2km run.

But on the steep climb that the competitors almost had to walk up to scale, she gained a metre and she just about had enough in the tank to hold on for the win.

Brennan’s time was an excellent two hours, 40 minutes and nine seconds, over two minutes ahead of Molina Garcia (2:42:45). Romanian triathlete Maria Szakacs was third, but she was a fair way back from the front runners in a time of 2:65:54.