U17 Team win Bronze at the Junior Inter County Fell Championship 2017

by Phil Hodge

On the 9th June 2017, seven of N.Ireland’s top junior athletes travelled to Lancashire for the British Junior Inter Counties Fell Running Championship. They found themselves up against current GB Team members, as well as those seeking selection for the European Championships in July.

The U17 NIMRA team had two St Malachy’s AC athletes, Tony McCambridge and Conall McClean, who placed 1st and 2nd in their Schools District XC and recently 2nd and 3rd in the Ulster Schools Intermediate 3000m.

Andrew Hagen completed the team after his recent 2nd in the Irish Schools 1500m Steeplechase (1st in Ulster).

Their race consisted of a steep climb through a series of muddy fields onto open hillside, before a short sharp descent and onto a fast flat 1 km transition along broad farm track before the arduous climb to the summit of Whittle Hill.

Over the top of the first hill, Tony was in approximately 10th with Conall only a few places behind. They had already recced the 1km farm track and knew this would be a good opportunity to make up ground on those runners who had gone out too hard. Upon their return leg of the farm track, they had moved to 5th and 8th and finding a new skill in downhill running, both managed to gain an additional place on the slippery descent. Andrew paced his race evenly, passing runners in the later stages to finish a very commendable 23rd.
The teams account of the race:-

“Despite having no faith and starting at the back, we made a great attempt at conquering the hill ! Even though Conall had picked up a knee injury a few days before, we managed to take a team Bronze behind the elite ‘mountain goat’ runners!

Tony fell on his backside in front of the Holy Cross at the summit, while Conall decided to take a seat in some unidentified dirt – a.k.a. sheep crap! – good luck cleaning them shorts!

Andrew managed to belly slide right in front of the cameraman and after passing the cross, he decided to abandon running and slid on his backside down the hill as if it was Lisburn swimmers!”

Results - Under 17 Men

Position County/Region Points Runners
1 Yorkshire 7 Joe Hudson (2), Tom Barrett (5), Euan Brennan (19)
2 Derbyshire 7 Alex Ediker (1), Sam Soles (6), Will Tighe (8)
3 Northern Ireland 11 Antony McCambridge (4), Conall McClean (7), Andrew Hagen (17)
4 Greater Manchester 19 Benjamin Forrest (3), Robert Seddon (16)
5 Cumbria 21 Tom Humphries (10), Ben Edmondson (11), Joshua Liddle (13)
6 Lancashire 24 Matthew Knowles (9), James Teare (15)
7 North Wales 26 Max Dunford (12), Tomos Land (14), Callum O'Donnell (18)

The final race of the day was the U19 whose event was combined with the U21’s.

The U19 boys team was led by Oisin Brennan (Springwell Running Club), top U18 at the Donard race, where he was selected for the Irish team heading to the World Championships in July.

He was joined by Jonny Brattle (Willowfield Harriers) whose season highlight was 4th in the Ulster Schools Senior Steeplechase.

The U19 Girls Team consisted of Molly Brennan (Springwell Running Club), winner of the Junior Championship in April and regular competitor in the Hill & Dale series. She was joined by Leila Ponziani (Victoria College) who was the fastest member of the Lagan Valley Ladies relay team who took Bronze in the N.I. & Ulster Senior XC Championships at Lurgan Park.

The race was officially 8.6 km with approximately 440m of climb. Whilst N.I. was basking in sunshine, the skies were darkening in Cowpe. The rain settled in just before the start of the U19 race [girls and boys together on same course]. The heavy rain combined with the strong winds meant a testing run into the wind on the outward section of the course. After some steep initial climbs out of the village to Black Hill and Cowpe Lowe there was a fast flat 1 km transition along broad farm track before the arduous climb to the summit of Whittle Hill. Now with the winds on their backs for the return leg the runners reversed the route reclimbing Cowpe Lowe and Black Hill before the plunge back to Cowpe village.

Both teams had fantastic runs, with the U19 Boys narrowly missing out on a Team bronze by only one point.

Results:- Under 19 Women
1 Yorkshire 9 Lucy Haines (3), Sarah Pickering (6), Eliza Findlay (13)
2 North Wales 11 Annabel McQueen (1), Rhiannon Kamnink (10), Molly Roberts (11)
3 Cumbria 12 Imogen Burrow (5), Hannah Durkin (7)
4 Greater Manchester 13 Lily McGuinness (4), Heather Corden (9), Emilia Gajda (14)
5 Northern Ireland 20 Leila Ponziani (8), Molly Brennan (12)
6 Lancashire 31 Corinna Howorth (15), Shauna Williamson (16)
7 Derbyshire 2 Helen Thornhill (2)

Under 19 Men

1 Cumbria 5 Joseph Dugdale (1), Harry Greenbank (4)
2 Yorkshire 9 Matthew Merrick (3), Jack Crownshaw (6), Kieran Loombe (11)
3 Cheshire 15 Robbie Peel (5), Allen Bunyan (10)
4 Northern Ireland 16 Jonny Brattle (7), Oisin Brennan (9)
5 Lancashire 25 Alexander Bell (12), Curtis Holt (13)
6 North East Counties 2 Ben Bergstrand (2)
7 North Wales 8 Ryan Cain (8)

The teams are to be commended on their fantastic performances, especially considering they do not have the opportunity to compete in a Junior Fell running series, when compared to the extensive range of races throughout the lakes and fells of England.

A selection of photos by Dave Woodhead from woodentops.

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