THE first time Jacob Adkin tried hill running, he freely admits he hated it. That is, perhaps, no surprise given his first taste of the sport was as an 11-year-old venturing out onto the Pentland Hills in the depths of Scottish winter.

But luckily, that first experience did not put Adkin off for life and a few years later, he gave it another shot and felt far more at home than he had that first time around. It was a wise choice, as it turns out the Scot had real potential in the brutally hard sport of hill and mountain running and now aged 22, he is on the verge of making his senior GB debut, at the World Mountain Running Championships, which take place in Andorra this weekend.

Adkin is one of four senior men selected to represent Great Britain at the event and as winner of the British trials last month, he is in the form of his life. Having been plagued by injury over the past few years, 2018 has seen a welcome spell of fitness for the Peebles man although he admits his trials victory surprised even himself.

The World Championships are another step up entirely though and Adkin admits he is reluctant to set himself any specific targets. However, having spent much of the summer based in Chamonix in France that has, he hopes, prepared him as thoroughly as possibly for this weekend’s race.

“I’ve been looking at pictures of the course and it will, I think, suit me,” he said.

“Because this is my first senior championships race, I’m not really too sure what to expect. I know the kind of people I want to be running with in the race - guys like (fellow Scot) Andy Douglas - and then during the race, I’ll try to push forward and see how it pans out.”

The course on Sunday reaches almost 2500m altitude and has some brutally steep climbs included. But for Adkin, that’s the type of course he relishes and the more challenging, the more he thrives.

“The steeper the better for me,” he said. “It looks tough but pretty runnable so it’ll definitely be a fast course.

“You’ve got to be really careful with how you set off in these races though - the mistake a lot of people make is they shoot off at the start and then die towards the end so I don’t want to be doing that. The best way to do it is to be picking people off throughout the race - mentally that’s so good and it means that usually, you end up with a better result in the end.”

Adkin also has the advantage of being coached by Scottish internationalist, Robbie Simpson, who began his career as a hill runner, wining World Championship bronze in 2015 before switching to the road and winning Commonwealth Games marathon bronze earlier this year. And Adkin admits it has been a significant help to have someone with such expertise and experience to ask for advice day in, day out.

“The help Robbie has given me has been invaluable,” he said.

“I owe a lot to him for how I’ve progressed this year. Being around him and some of the other more experienced hill runners has been really useful - speaking to them about what they’ve done inspires you and keeps you motivated.”

As Adkin has progressed through the sport, he reveals he has become more accustomed to pushing his body to the limit. But the thing he loves about hill running that track running is missing is the quite stunning places it takes him.

“I like that it’s such a hard test," he said.

"When you’re coming through, it is tough but as you progress, you develop a different mindset and you get more used to pushing yourself.

"At the beginning, it was more of a chore whereas now, I’ve managed to get a good balance in my head where I get through the hard session but overall, I really enjoy every part of it now.

"And there’s no better feeling than when you get to the top of a hill. Some of the scenery I see is amazing. Last week I did an uphill tempo run and when I got to the top, I stood there for 20 minutes just soaking in the view. It takes your breath away. You can’t beat the places you can go and the views you see.

"You are working really hard but the scenery distracts you and really helps you get through the session.”