A group of nine young athletes travelled to the English Schools Fell Running Championships in West Yorkshire last weekend. Hosted by Calder High School, Mytholmroyd, the event is now in its seventh 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 another huge entry of nearly 500 and, as in recent years, the standard of all the races was extremely high. On the day, the weather was sunny and warm, providing fine views across the valley.
In the first race of the day, the Year 7s competed over a testing 3 km course which included an arduous climb and fast, technical descent. After a steady start, Kate Cashin (QEII), Alice Cashin (QEII) and Lydia Morris (BHS) worked well together on the climb and began to move through the field. They continued to pick off runners on the descent and finished close together in 9th, 10th and 12th respectively. They were delighted to claim victory in the Year 7 girls team competition – a fantastic achievement.
In the junior race, Lorna Spiers (QEII), fresh from her 4th place in the FRA Junior Fell Championship series powered round the course to 10th place. She made significant gains on the rocky descent, showing off her fearless descending skills. Teammate Angela Aumonier (CRHS), equally adept on track, cross country or fell looked extremely composed for her 21st position and in the boys race, Oliver Shearer (CRHS), another all-rounder, took an excellent 16th position.
David Mullarkey (CRHS) is now an experienced competitor on the fells and his determination was clear to see in the intermediate boys race. After an aggressive start, he climbed extremely well, reaching the summit of Crow Hill in 8th position. He had an epic battle on the descent and, after a slight tumble, finished strongly, eventually taking a well deserved 12th place. George Dickinson (SNHS) and Alex Bell (QEII) paced themselves very well in their first, off-island fell race, finishing in 29th and 32nd respectively. The boys were very happy to finish as runners-up in the team competition, narrowly missing out on the win.
It was to the credit of all the Manx athletes that they performed so well on such steep, long and technical courses. These fine results are just reward for all the hard work they have put in training for the event and no doubt their good form will continue into the Winter Hill League and Cross Country.
The organizers, 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.