IT'S becoming less of an occurence that World Duathlon champion Katie Hewison is back up north competing on her ‘home patch’.

But the Chorley runner returned to her roots last weekend to prove she is back to her healthy best after an injury-hit six months that saw her faint Olympic 2012 dream ebb away.

There was no catching Hewison at Sunday’s Horwich Open 5k as she made light work of taking top female honours by finishing first in 16 minutes and 42 seconds, with only three men chipping faster times.

It proved a relatively gentle affair for the 26-year-old endurance athlete who has created plenty of headlines since switching her career to duathlons and triathlons in 2009.

Unfortunately, the 2012 season has only recently kicked into life for the Horwich RMI Harriers member after missing the whole of winter training with a stress fracture to her metatarsal.

She ran with the injury during her astonishing world title victory in Dijon last September, but it meant several months on the sidelines.

“It was horrible. I was supposed to be out for just six to 12 weeks,” said Hewison, who is now based in Aldershot. “But I raced on it and made it far worse. It became a full fracture.

“I missed all of my winter training. I started running again at the back end of March. It was really frustrating, but I’m back now and feeling healthy again and injury-free.”

Hewison, under her maiden name Katie Ingram, has enjoyed a glorious career since running her first fell race in 1999 and winning the English U14 Championships and her first England vest in that same year.

She went on to win the English U16 and U18 Championships and progressed via the U20s and U23s to be a regular in the senior England and Great Britian teams.

In 2009, her big success came with a gold medal at the Commonwealth Championships Up and Downhill Race in Keswick.

Later that year, the former St Michael’s High School student made the life-changing decision to pursue an elite triathlon career by applying for the ‘Trigold’ programme.

It is a move that has reaped huge benefits. After overcoming a series of niggling injuries, she won the World Duathlon Championships and, in March 2012, was voted Female Duathlete of the Year following a nationwide vote run by 220 Triathlon magazine, the UK’s leading triathlon magazine.

“It’s been a roller-coaster year, there’s been ups and downs,” said Hewison. “That’s the thing with elite running. At one point, you can be winning things and be on a real high, but it only takes an injury and you’re feeling low.

“It was lovely to be recognised for that award.”

Since overcoming her foot injury, Hewison has enjoyed a steady 2012 season as she prepares to defend her world title in Nancy, France, later this year.

Last month, she was first at the British Aquathlon Championships in Tamworth and she also helped her French side, Issy Triathlon, to fourth at the French Grand Prix in Toulouse.

Hewison is now getting ready for next Thursday's GE Canary Wharf Triathlon. The Super-Sprint Eliminator race includes a 400m swim, 10km cycle and 2km run, with two heats each for men and women before a final.