A Tale Of Two Cities

NIMRA Juniors at U18 International Mountain Running Cup

Last raced in the 2013 Tour de France, Semnoz less than an hour from the center of Annecy, France was to be the destination of the 13th International U18 Mountain Running Cup.

View from the registration

While Nairo Quintana was to be the winner that day, it was Spain that was to take the victory in both the men and women’s races in the Mountain Running, with Spain also taking the honours in the women’s team competition, having to be content with second in the men.

For N.I. & Ulster, we had a young team, consisting of only three athletes who had competed at this level before.

The course consisted of an anticlockwise loop to the summit and back, with some trees providing shade in the early and later stages, though the summit was open to the bright sky, with stunning views of the mountains, even a glimpse of Mt Blanc in the distance.

Opening ceremony parade

Up first were the girls, led by Katie Graham, in her first of two Internationals this summer (more of that later). Katie raced hard, picking off competitors throughout the climb, before finishing in 21st – a stunning result, and the highest for a female U18 N.I. & Ulster athlete since we started sending female teams 6 years ago. Next up were Niamh Campbell and Alanna Rose Farley in 42nd and 43rd with Jessica Blaney in 49th, who would benefit from this race experience in 2 weeks’ time in Innsbruck.

The girls achieved 11th team from 13 countries – a result to be truly proud off against this international field.

Ice hats on, with the race summit in the background

The U18 men were next, with Spain again leading the way, followed by USA and Mexico. Our N.I. & Ulster team were all new faces, except for Joshua Muckian, who has struggled with some early season niggles, so it was great to see him again towing the line.

First for the NIMRA team was Tiarnan McManus, who realized he could have pushed harder, something that will come with experience at this level. Still a fantastic result in 41st. He was followed in similar fashion to the girls’ race, with his teammates coming in together, with Joshua in 44th only 4 seconds ahead of Oliver Playfair, who in turn was approx. 25 seconds ahead of Finn Valley athlete Ciaran McCarroll in 47th.

The lads finished 12th team, a result they will be confident to build on next year with the lessons learnt in France.

With team kit sponsor Brian Muckian

The committee and coaches would also like to very much thank Brian Muckian for his generous sponsorship of the brand new team kit!

RESULTS LINK HERE – http://maxirace.livetrail.net/ Select U18 Femme & U18 Homme

Irish U20 at the Worlds

Barely had the dust settled from France, than the NIMRA contingent were off in the blue minibus again for Dublin, this time as part of the Irish Squad. They were to join the largest team of Irish Athletes ever to travel to an International Mountain Race, this one being the World Championships held in Innsbruck, Austria.

The senior athletes had travelled early, with races starting on Wednesday, but the U20 athletes were to wait until the final day of racing for their competition.

Two Lagan Valley AC athletes who had competed in France had also made this team, Katie Graham and Jessica Blaney. They were to be joined by Newcastle AC’s Tom Crudgington and Ethan McMullan, as well as Eimear McCarroll of Finn Valley AC.

The team was based up the valley in a hotel close to the VK race location and would travel down into the centre of Innsbruck for their races start and finish.

Unlike Annecy, where the race was located on top of a mountain, this race followed a more traditional format, starting and finishing in the centre of town, for dramatic spectator effect.

To add to this drama, the organisers had created three sections of artificial trail through the streets of Innsbruck, with spectator railings, which encouraged tourists and locals to line these features throughout the morning and afternoon of these races.

U20 Men ready to race

The first race of the day was the U20 male race, incorporating a one lap loop of the course with Tom Crudgington with high hopes, despite clear evidence of a bike training accident in the previous week, when a car forced him onto the foot path. Thankfully this didn’t impede his progress achieving a stunning 27th from 72 athletes. Sadly, the effort and the heat were too much for Tom and he collapsed over the line, needing medical attention. After several hours recovery, he was released to rejoin his team later in the afternoon. Colum O’Neill was next for Ireland in 42nd, followed by Ryan McCarthy in 65th and Ethan McMullan in 68th.

These results were good enough for 10th team from 16, just behind the hosts Austria in 9th – a stunning performance.

Girls ready for the Worlds!

The U20 females were up next, following their pre-race plan to the letter, the girls race started with Eimear McCarroll out in the top 10, using her track speed to good effect, but also aware that the uphill pace would be too much and Katie in second would catch her at some point in the race. Sure enough this happened near the top of the climb, with Katie passing to ultimately finish in a stunning 36th – not bad for your first World Championship, but Eimear managed to keep her not far in front finishing 38th. When they were joined by Kate Connolly in 44th and Jessica in 47th, this was good enough for 9th team, four points ahead of Argentina in 10th.

Girls post-race kit swaps at the Worlds

RESULTS LINK HERE – https://my.raceresult.com/237839/ Mountain Classic Junior

The management were extremely proud of these young athletes’ performances both in France and Austria, coupled with the way they represented their country at the competition.

They deserve to be very proud.

You may also like...