N.I. Team 4th at WMRA (World Mountain Running Association) U18 Youth Cup
15 Teams of boys and 16 Teams of girls travelled to Lanzada, Italy for this the 13th Youth Cup.
Lanzada, in Italy’s far north close to the Swiss border, is a beautiful alpine village situated in a valley at over 1000m. Surrounded by alpine meadows and steep 3000m snow-capped peaks.
100 runners from throughout Europe and the USA, took to the start line, to race 2 laps of a looped course, starting in the streets of Lanzada before climbing up into the forested slopes above.
The runners lapped the towns church, in an attempt to spread out the field, before jostling for position in the alleyways and steps that exit the town. Steep and at times rocky single-track, took the runners round switchbacks before being greeted by loud cowbells as they approached the high point of the course. A short undulating run led to fast technical descents bringing runners back into the town for a lengthy section of tarmac before heading back out for loop two.
N.Ireland were in the fortunate position to send a girls team for the first time to an international Youth Cup. Unfortunately, just over a week before the race, the girl’s team had lost Rachel Collins (Dromore AC) to an ankle injury, leaving Ella Quinn(Omagh Harriers) and Aoife McGrath (Finn Valley AC) to compete as individuals. The Tyrone duo, both new to Mountain running, described their race as the most difficult thing they had ever done. The girls ran well, struggling some in the heat, to place 40th and 42nd in a field of 46 International Runners, a commendable performance in such an elite field.
The race was won in confident style by the USA’s Joslin Blair, who never looked under pressure throughout the race.
The U18 men were up next, and despite cautioning words of advice from the N.Zealander and current WMRA President, Jonathan Whyatt, to take their time in the first 200m, jostling and at least one bruised nose ensued as the runners jockeyed for position upon entering the narrow alleyways. N.Irelands Jared Martin(Scrabo Striders) and Gareth Campbell(Willowfield Harriers) found themselves at the back having to use great patience and determination to make any ground from this point. Gareth, more used to Steeplechase on the track, ran consistently to place 44th in a field of 51 runners, an encouraging performance in this elite field, placing ahead of two of his southern competitors. Jared, well used to the Hills through a season competing in the popular Hill & Dale series, was able to use that experience to work through the back of the field, making up 10 places on the first climb, and continuing to gain a further 13 places on the following laps. Jared finished 28th, higher than any N.I. runner of the last few years. No mean feat considering the technical difficulty and pace of the race. The St Malachys AC pairing of Tony McCambridge and Conall McClean had more success jostling for position in the narrow alleyways, however, they still had to race with determination to gain more ground, something they managed, each gaining a further 7 places in the coming laps. Conall, current Ulster Schools 5000m champion managed a fantastic 16th only to be bettered by his teammate and close friend Tony in 10th!
N.Ireland had been delighted with a team 11th position last year, but were thrilled to discover the lads had placed 4th, beating the USA and last years winners Turkey in the process.
The race was won in impressive fashion by Englands Matthew McKay, who led throughout, never looking threaten of the win. England too won team Gold with scoring runners in 2nd and 5th. France won Team silver, with the hosts Italy taking bronze just ahead of N.Ireland.
U18 Men results http://www.fidal.it/risultati/2018/COD7079/Gara010.htm
U18 Girls results http://www.fidal.it/risultati/2018/COD7079/Gara020.htm
Male Team result – http://www.fidal.it/risultati/2018/COD7079/Soc010.htm
Female team result – http://www.fidal.it/risultati/2018/COD7079/Soc020.htm