Race conditions for all the athletes and Team Managers! In the 12th WMRA International Youth Cup at Gagliano del Capo, Puglia, Italy on Saturday 24th June were certainly hot! With temperatures soaring towards 100 degrees Fahrenheit! The heat certainly affected the athletes, while some coped better than others in the relentless heat and paced their race according to the conditions, some found things just out of their comfort zone and though the races were brought forward by half an hour, it did not make much difference with the temperatures!
The first race saw the girls compete on a 3850m/+250m/-130m course which included narrow up and down technical, rocky sections. The Welsh girls in attempting to pace the race according to the conditions found themselves, as did many others held up at a bottleneck near the start as everyone had to negotiate a quite sharp right turn onto a narrow, single file, rocky uphill section which was less than 300 metres from the start line! They were never able to make up much ground from there on in as they then had to negotiate a narrow rocky downhill section on the lap back to the start before negotiating the narrow, rocky uphill path once again followed by an uphill climb to the finish. Annabelle McQueen (Eryri) did make up some ground to finish a very creditable 17th in 21.07 while the other Welsh girls stuck together with Holly Roberts (Colwyn Bay) 43rd in 24.16. Ellie Kiff (Carmarthen Harriers) 44th in 24.36 and Jessica Wadey (Cardiff AAC) 45th in 24.56. The Team were placed 11th of the 13 full teams competing. The race was won by Italian Nadi Battocletti in 18.45. Italy also won the team title.
There was then a 15 minute delay before the start of the boys race to attend to a few injured and dehydrated athletes from the girls race. It was then much the same with the boys race at the bottleneck from the start to the narrow, single file rocky path. The Welsh boys certainly suffered in the heat, none more so than the unfortunate Thomas Jones (Carmarthen Harriers) who was well placed with 500 metres to go but, the heat took its toll as Thomas began staggering just short of the finishing line and had to be assisted over the line and was subsequently, disqualified! To make matters worse, Thomas having collapsed with severe heat exhaustion and dehydration was then carted off to the first aid station where he was very well looked after and placed on a drip. It took Thomas a while to recover back to full health. Thomas does not recall anything of the last 500 metres! Iestyn Williams (Carmarthen Harriers) was therefore able to claim to be the first Welsh finisher in 29th position with a time of 27.00 followed by Max Dunford (St Davids College. Llandudno) 32nd in 27.38 and 48th Cedol Dafydd (Menai Track & Field) 30.17. Cedol also suffered from the heat after a promising start. The race was won once again by an Italian athlete; Alain Cavagna who made the most of the “Home” ground advantage to pace the race very well to overhaul the front running Turkish athletes close to the finishing line to win in a time of 23.37 Turkey though, won the team title ahead of Italy. Following Thomas Jones disqualification, Wales were placed 10th of the 13 full teams who completed the race.
Summary: The weather conditions certainly played a part in our athletes performances, perhaps in a negative way? but one that we can all learn from in the future. The narrow bottleneck near the start of the races was also a disadvantage as our athletes were more concerned with pacing their race than getting into a good position for the narrow, single file rocky path and then relaxing into their running. One for our future Development training camps. Preparing/Competing in all weather conditions. Despite everything, our athletes acquitted themselves very well, performed to the best of their ability in difficult, even alien running conditions and they will have learned a lot from the experience. As ever their conduct was exemplary and socialising with athletes from different countries will help with their personality skills for whatever the future holds for them all?
Race Report Provided by Arwel Lewis (Welsh Mountain Running Secretary)