Wales relatively inexperienced athletes performed very well at the British & Irish Junior Mountain Running Championships being staged at Peeples, Scotland on Saturday 16th September on what were, very tough up and down grass courses. Weather conditions for the whole event were quite good, overcast, dry, and cool with very little wind.
The 4 Welsh under 17 girls were all experiencing international mountain running for the first time as they all finished in a group led home by Emily Hanlon (Colwyn Bay) in 15th place who overtook Gwyneth Parry (Wrexham) on the final downhill section of the 3.8km/187m race route, 17th Lois Lee (St Davids College, Llandudno) and 18th Lucy Lawrence (Menai T&F). All four were happy enough to take home team bronze medals.
The next race saw the under 17 boys running on a 5.8km/321m course which included a steep 500m climb, Wales were well represented in this event with 8 athletes competing in their respective A & B teams most of whom were very inexperienced at this level led home by newcomer Joe Reardon (Aberdare) who surprised everyone, including himself! With a 4th placed finish as three experienced English juniors completed a 1-2-3 placing. Next in for Wales was; running in the B-Team, Cai La Trobe Roberts (Menai) in 9th position followed by another B-Team member in Max Dunford (St Davids College) Both of whom performed as expected having not run as well in the trial races for the event though, close enough to the other athletes at the trial race to warrant the opportunity to compete in these championships. Next in was 11th placed Eden Potter (Menai) followed by: 18th Ifan Oldfield (Wrexham) 21st Tomos Land (Menai) 22nd Gethin Davies (Menai) and 23rd, the unfortunate Iestyn Williams (Carmarthen) of the A-Team who picked up an injury during the race but kept going to finish only the two seconds behind Gethin. With the B-Teams not counting in the medal placings, the Wales A-Team were placed 3rd behind England and Scotland respectively
The next race saw the under 20 women run on the same course as the under 17 boys with our best hope of an individual medal; Annabelle McQueen (Eryri) disappointed to miss out with a 4th placed finish after initially racing neck and neck with the eventual 2nd placed English athlete Fiona Bunn, Annabelle still has another two years in this age category and will no doubt be back next year targeting a medal of some colour. The next Welsh athlete to finish was Rhiannon Kamink (Colwyn Bay) in 14th followed by: 17th Holly Roberts (Colwyn Bay) and 21st Ellie Kiff (Carmarthen). Annabelle, Rhiannon, Holly and Ellie can take some comfort by taking home the silver team medals.
The final race of the day saw the under 20 men run on a 8km/433m course which included two loops of the steep 500m climb! All four Welsh athletes finished as a group led home by 15th placed Thomas Jones (Carmarthen) followed by: 16th Joe Crutchley (Maldwyn) 17th Ryan Cain (Menai) and 18th Cedol Dafydd (Menai). Our under 20 men were the only ones to miss out on any team medals as Ireland pipped them to the bronze medals.
In the overall team standings, Wales were placed 3rd behind England and Scotland respectively.
All 20 Welsh athletes will have gained some valuable international race experience from the event which will hopefully inspire them all to continue to strive for more international honours in the future, most of whom will still be eligible for this event next year when they will be aiming to improve on this year’s performances in their quest for individual and team medals. Well done to all of you and Thank You to the Team Managers: Steve Livett (Menai) and Delyth Brown (Carmarthen) who ensured all the athletes were well looked after, catered for and ready for international competition.