The 7th World Mountain Running Association International Youth Team Cup took place on Sunday 24th June in the ‘Garden of Ireland’, Glendalough, in the heart of the Wicklow Mountains.
Nine nations took part including the home countries of Wales, England and Scotland. After arriving via a rough ferry crossing from Holyhead on Saturday afternoon in the wind and rain, the athletes walked the course with an expectation that race conditions would be similar the next day. However, race day was sunny but cool, and the midges were out.
The first race for girls born in 1995 and 1996 saw a Wales team of Megan Withers (Pembrokeshire Harriers), Rebecca Evans (Cardiff AAC), and Georgia Garner (Colwyn Bay AC) tackle the two lap course that included a 130m climb and descent on each lap of approximately one mile. While Poland, England and Russia shared the podium places, Megan had a strong run to come through the field for a very good 7th place. Rebecca and Georgia were never far apart during the race and eventually finished 19th and 22nd, only seven seconds apart. In the team event, Ireland won and our girls finished a very creditable 5th place.
In the boys race Wales fielded two teams. Wales ‘A’ comprised Gwynant Jones (Maldwyn Harriers), Iolo Hughes (Menai T&F), and Christian Lovatt (Carmarthen Harriers). The Wales ‘B’ team were Matthew Blackwell (Deeside AC), Rhys James (Menai T&F) and Jacob Griffith (Colwyn Bay AC) who were all making their Welsh debuts. The boys tackled the same course as the girls but had to run an extra lap.
The start saw a group of around ten athletes all run the first lap as a bunch with Gwynant right in there with rather ominously three Italians. Gwynant eventually had to settle for 10th after the three deceptively tough laps while the Italians stormed the team competition with individuals in 1st, 3rd and 5th. Iolo came home 21st after slipping down the field on the second and third laps as the pace hotted up. Wales ‘A’ were completed with Christian in 22nd. Wales ‘B’ were headed home by Jacob in 31st who more than justified his very late call-up as a replacement to the team. Matthew was 33rd and Rhys 36th. In the team Wales ‘A’ were 5th and Wales ‘B’ 11th.
Many of our athletes are in the younger year in this event and will have another chance in this competition next year if selected. All of them will benefit from this experience of rubbing shoulders with runners from the likes of Russia, Italy, Poland, Bulgaria and Slovenia.
1. Weronika Pyzic Poland 15:07
2. Sarah Hodgson England 15:07
3. Ksenia Makhneva Russia 15:09
7. Megan Withers Wales 15:37
19. Rebecca Evans Wales 16:31
22. Georgia Garner Wales 16:38
1. Ireland A 29
2. Italy 37
3. Russia A 37
4. Slovenia 47
5. Wales 48
6. Scotland 49
1. Yemanebehran Crippa Italy 18:59
2. Konstantin Galiullin Russia 19:20
3. Nadir Cavagna Italy 19:33
10. Gwynant Jones Wales A 20:16
21. Iolo Hughes Wales A 21:09
22. Christian Lovatt Wales A 21:17
31. Jacob Griffith Wales B 22:17
33. Matthew Blackwell Wales B 22:50
36. Rhys James Wales B 25:53
1. Italy 9
2. Bulgaria 35
3. Ireland A 38
4. Poland A 49
5. Wales A 53
11. Wales B 100