Inter-Counties Fell Running Championships 2018 (submitted by NI team management):
A team of junior mountain runners from Northern Ireland had travelled early to the Inter Counties Fell Running Championships in England to facilitate a thorough recce of the course on Friday (29th June 2018) and make for a more confident race day morning!
Dave Taylor (from The Fell Running Guide) provided advice that was to prove very helpful, with important cues and pointers to be remembered throughout the race.
On race day (Saturday 30th June 2018), after the younger races, where three Newcastle AC juniors tried out their first fell race, it was the turn off the U17’s to race. The course had been lengthened by 400m on race day morning for safety reasons, making the 1km long starting climb all the more intimidating.
The boys and girls raced together with Callum Morgan of St Malachys AC leading the Northern Ireland contingent. Callum was to race consistently, despite the technical terrain in the middle section of the race, finishing in a fantastic 12th. Conor McGrath of Lagan Valley AC was next in 15th followed by Brendan McCambridge of North Belfast Harriers on 19th.
Meanwhile the girls were having a gutsy battle at the front of their race, with Sorcha Mullan of Omagh Harriers exchanging places with the eventual winner from Cumbria, Chloe Rylance, finishing just 13 seconds later. Ella Quinn, also of Omagh Harriers, was next in a fantastic 6th have gained 2 places during the second half of the course. Rebecca Magee of Dromore AC finished a fantastic 10th, staying ahead of the bronze medal team’s 2nd and 3rd runners. The girls race was so close, that Yorkshire claimed Gold from Northern Ireland by just one point, with Northern Ireland getting team Silver – the girls are all new to the hills and have a fantastic future ahead in mountain running!
Next up were the U19’s. The U19 men’s team, have all raced for Northern Ireland before, so we knew they were capable, but with Gold medallists from the England at the recent U18 cup, any chance of a podium was going to be a big ask.
Miceal McCaul (St Colmans) lead the Northern Ireland team up the first climb, followed by Jared Martin (Scrabo Striders) and Tom Magee (St Colmans). A 1km long grassy climb, made a sudden drop down a reed covered steep bank, then negotiating a technical single track, before heading out onto the challenging descent and climb that formed the turn round point. Jared’s recent Hill & Dale experience was to be decisive, as the more difficult the terrain the further up the field he was to place. Jared repeated the mature pacing that has proved such a strength previously, to move from 15th after the first climb to 6th by the finish – a fantastic result. Micheal McCaul was to make a strong finish in 9th that was critical to the team securing bronze after finishing tied with North Wales. Tom Magee, frustrated with injury during the last few months, finished well in 14th, staying just ahead of the Gold medal team, Yorkshires 3rd runner.
Meanwhile, Grace Carson was battling with the experienced Welsh International, Annabelle McQueen, having led up the first climb. After taking a tumble on the steep descent, Grace bounced back quickly, keeping McQueen in sight, but was never able to regain the lead – however, she did manage to secured 2nd place, a fantastic result. Aoife McGrath after her positive experience in Italy ran strongly to finish in 9th. Cassie Lagan, new to technical descending on such rough terrain, had gained much from Dave Taylors coaching session, that was to help keep the 3rd Yorkshire runner in sight for much of the race. The girls narrowly missed out in the closest fought team battle, with only 3 points separating the top 4 teams!
The Northern Ireland Mountain Running Association (NIMRA) are delighted with the success of these teams and are excited to see how their skills and techniques develop over the summer in readiness for the tough competition of the Junior Home International in September.
Full results from the event can be found HERE.
Meanwhile in Macedonia, two others members of the NIMRA Junior team were battling it out against the best in Europe at U20. Tony, fresh from his 10th in Italy two weeks ago, had amazing success today, achieving 14th against this older field. Best friend and St Malachys AC team mate, Conall McClean managed 30th, a great result, despite picking up a foot injury a week ago.
A full report on the European Mountain Running Championships is available HERE