A group of fourteen young athletes traveled to the English Schools Fell Running Championships in Cumbria last weekend. The trip was organized by Manx Fell Runners with assistance from the Isle of Man Secondary Schools Sports Association. Hosted by Queen Katherine School, Kendal, the event is now in its fifth year and continues to attract high quality athletes from schools across the north-west and beyond, including a host of established England internationals. There was a huge entry of nearly 500, up 25% on 2012, and the standard of all the races was extremely high. On the day, the weather was glorious, providing fine views across the Lake District fells.
In the first race of the day, the Year 7s competed over a testing 2 km course which included a steep climb and fast descent. After a fast start, Ethan Georgeson (CRHS) and Harry Read (RGS) settled into a good pace and worked well together on the climb. Ethan edged ahead on the descent and finished the race in a fine 13th position, ahead of Harry in 19th and teammate James Harrison in 40th. In the girls race, Lorna Spiers (QEII) powered round the course, looking composed throughout, finishing an excellent 8th with teammates Megan Lockwood (CRHS) and Millie Palmer (RGS) close behind in 17th and 21st respectively. They were delighted to finish as runners-up in the Year 7 girls team competition.
David Mullarkey (CRHS) is an experienced competitor on the fells and his determination was clear to see in the Year 8/9 boys race. After an aggressive start, he settled in behind the lead group and held his own over the testing course. He finished strongly, eventually taking a well deserved 7thposition. Oliver Shearer (CRHS) paced himself very well, finishing just ahead of James Strickett (KWC) in his first major, off-island fell race in 40th and 42nd positions respectively.
In the girls’ race, Angela Aumonier (CRHS) and Isabella Barnes (KWC) were running shoulder to shoulder at the front end of the field up to the halfway point. Unfortunately, Angela went over on her ankle on a particularly difficult section of the course, causing her to withdraw from the race. Bella, who had been training with Lloyd Taggart and Jackie Lee in the weeks leading up to this event, pushed on and finished in a respectable 10th position, all the more impressive considering she was likely the youngest competitor in the race.
The final event of the day was for Year 12/13, over a testing course to Benson Knott and back measuring 4 miles with over 1,000ft of ascent. The race was taken out hard by two experienced internationals while Stephen Garrett (RGS) and Jason Moore (SNHS) sensibly tucked into the chase group. Both were running well until Jason unfortunately had a recurrence of an old calf injury which effectively ended his challenge. Stephen just lost touch on the early part of the descent but recovered and finished strongly for a superb 4th place, narrowly missing out on a medal. To his credit, Jason stuck to the task, and limped in for 11th place.
Manx Fell Runners would like to thank Isle of Man Steam Packet Company for assisting in making the trip possible. This type of experience is hugely important for young athlete development and they are all most grateful for the Steam Packet's input.