In the Ambleside sun, Bronze wasn’t just the colour of their skin…
The U18 International, scaled back due to COVID, consisted of runners from England, Scotland, Wales and N.I. & Ulster.
This was Tom Crudgington’s second International vest, having placed 17th at the British & Irish Champs in Wales in 2019. He was joined by Ryan Smith, Ethan McMullan and Michael Houston, all making their first International Mountain Running appearances.
In the girls team, it was all first International Mountain Running vests for Eimear McCarroll, Sarah Bradley, Nuala Bose and Ciara Savage.
Due to the lower numbers, both girls and boys races ran together, starting and finishing in Ambleside’s Rothay Park. From a grass start, the race joined the park path, then over a bridge before turning sharply uphill on tarmac.
A few hairpins of this steep tarmac led to a stile and onto the hill. Up through ferns, with plenty of rocks and roots to keep them focused, the trail eventually pops out into the most stunning views down Lake Windermere……not that any of the athletes noticed.
Tom was sitting in a group of 4, with the leader at this point already forming what would turn out to be an incredible lead and new course record. Ryan up next allowing the more experienced mountain runners to pick the path, with the intent of passing a few in the faster running sections later in the course. Michael, Ethan, Eimear, Sarah and Nuala were very closely packed at this stage as they crested the first climb. Ciara was tucked in 14th at the summit. Sadly, a fall at this point, saw her move to 15th, not realising for the rest of the race, the athlete in 14th was a short distance ahead, but out of sight due to the undulating nature of the course.
Over the summit the athletes followed a short dip in the course before a rolling plateau led to the last short scramble. A gap opened between the second to fourth placed runners and Tom in 5th, before he closed in again on this final climb.
Tom maintained 5th to the finish, a stunning result, which leaves him hungry for the 4th September when we host the British and Irish U17 and U20 Championships in Greenhill, Newcastle.
Meanwhile Eimear after completing the scramble at the farthest point of the course, managed to catch and pass two of the male athletes ahead, placing 4th by the finish and only 8 seconds off the Bronze medal spot….not bad for her first mountain race!
The two Finn Valley athletes had their usual battle, with Sarah winning out today in 6th and Nuala 8th – who will it be in the next race?
Ryan made good on his pre race plans, passing at least two of the athletes ahead, placing 10th in his debut performance.
Michael and Ethan maintained their pace to finish very promising 13th and 15th, with only a handful of seconds to the runners in front – lots more to come from these two when they next race on home turf.
The team’s results ended up with a tie in both the boys’ and girls’ races leading to a count back, another lesson for the XC teams that every position counts.
Both N.I. & Ulster Teams pipped Wales to Bronze!!!
Athletes and managers are very excited to see what the 4th September can bring, with a home race and the realisation that they were so close to the top two teams!
Well done all the athletes, who were a credit to the clubs they represent!
Results and Photos can be obtained at: https://www.amblesidemountaincup.com/photos-and-results/2021-home-countries-youth-international-results-photos/