IN her first race for seven months Truro's Annabel Gummow made a welcome return to top class competition in the fourth race of the prestigious McCain Cross Challenge series in Cardiff.
The 18-year-old British junior international hadn't raced in anger since finishing first woman in the Cubert 5 miles road race at the end of May since when a series of unfortunate injuries have put her out of action.
But Gummow has now put a disappointing 2012 behind her and believes that Sunday's result, while not as good as she wanted, is a sign that better times lie ahead.
"It is good to be back," said Gummow, who finished ninth in the senior women's race around Blackweir Fields in Cardiff.
"It was quite scary to be back racing at this level again but this is definitely something to build upon. I would have liked to have finished higher but I feel I am getting back to it and I have some decent training sessions recently but today I lacked pace and that is something I need to work upon."
A lack of race sharpness is not surprising after all Gummow's problems but that will return with more competitions. More importantly Gummow feels she has shaken off her injury problems and her desire to get back to her best burns as brightly as ever.
"It felt weird to be back racing especially in the senior race," added Gummow.
"Last year I was second behind Emelia (Gorecka) in the under 20 women's race and I have been used to being at the front of races whereas today I was further down the field.
"But I enjoyed the race and it was just great to be back racing again and hopefully I can push on from here."
The Truro College Sixth Form student will now tackle the Midland Counties Cross Countries Championships in Stafford on Saturday before switching surfaces to the Marazion 10k road race on Sunday February 3.
In the under 20 men's race East Cornwall Harriers' Dan Nash finished a disappointed 18th.
"I am not happy with that," said Nash.