B & I Junior Championship 2023



By John Rogan

On a blisteringly hot autumnal morning the Scottish Borders town of Peebles provided the backdrop for the 2023 edition of the B&I Junior Mountain Running Championships.

With a healthy sprinkling of experience and debutants across the four NIMRA junior teams, the feeling going into the weekend was one of enthusiasm and intrigue, as the athletes readied themselves for the task at hand.

Our U17 Girls team lead superbly by the ever improving and eye catching Katie Graham in 8th position, this was a fantastic run. Katie sitting in 7th for the majority of race had an unfortunate tumble which allowed one of the Scottish athletes to slip past her and held her off until the finish. Katie can be very proud of the run given this time last year in Ambleside she finished 13th in the same race. Speaking afterwards Katie stated “I’m happy with that, I ran a good race and it’s an improvement on last year”. We have no doubt Katie will improve and be a real contender in the years to come, with more exposure to these types of International races.

Team mates Anna Russel (15th) & Aoife Magee (16th) were our two debutants this year and conducted themselves brilliantly all weekend. A huge learning curve for the two girls at this level, who will hopefully be back for many years to come putting their 2023 learnings into practise. The team finally finishing in 4th place with 39 points.

Next up we had our U17 Boys, with the sun still burning down in what was a very untypical day in the Scottish Borders. Young Luke O’Doherty, after arriving late on the Saturday evening due to his winning exploits in the Irish National Triathlon Championships the same day, showed no ill effects or fatigue on Sunday morning leading his team home in 14th position, we look forward to watching his progress in the future and who knows what he could do running on fresh legs.

Next home was Eoin McConnell in his debut at this level in a very credible 17th place with team mates Tiernan McManus 18th and Ciaran McCarroll 19th rounding out the team and finishing on 49 points for a 5th place finish.

As the day progressed and sun dipped making conditions a little cooler our U20 girls took to the start line with hope of another top finish a real possibility. Over the 5.9km course the girls endured a tough afternoon but battled hard all the way. Eimear McCarroll was the standout in the team achieving a marvellous 8th place and improving on her 10th place from the year before. Sitting between 11th and 12th all race, she bided her time and until the descent from the summit where she was able to open those long legs of hers and drive hard down the hill, the course obviously suiting her speed, round the final hairpin she let fly and moved from 9th into 8th and opened up an 50m gap in the space of seconds, a great run and one she should be very proud of.

Backing Eimear up was Niamh Campbell (14th), Alana Rose Farley (15th) and Laura McConville (17th) for a team finish of 4th. The majority of this team have another year or 2 at this age group and the future is looking bright for this team having gained valuable experience.

Last but not least we had our U20 men to the fore, who had been chomping at the bit all morning, prowling around like caged lions. The ever improving Ethan Mullan had a fantastic run especially given a recent Achillies injury which had hampered his preparations, finished in a very credible 15th place, one I know he was pretty proud of given his preparations. Backing Ethan up was Luke Donnelly (16th), Ethan O’Kane (17th) & Patrick McDaid (18th), team finishing in 5th place. A lot more to come from these young men as they progress and develop in the years to come.

Overall, our NIMRA Juniors can be very proud of their exploits in this edition of championships. The future certainly bodes well.

A huge thankyou to our hosts from Scottish Athletics and especially the effort put in from Gregor Nicholson and his team on the smooth running of the event. Gregor turned the 2017 Colditz experience into the 2023 Ritz experience…..looking forward already to his plans for Scotland’s next turn hosting this event……..though we will have that privilege before then!

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