Saturday, 13 June 2015

Mountains and a Mile in May

Hello again,

I haven’t had the chance to write a blog post recently. I have been busy revising for my AS exams and training and competing of course! I’ll try to fill you in with what I have been up to over the past month or so.

At the start of May I ran my first mountain race of the season at Devil's Bridge near Aberystwyth and this included the Welsh trial for the WMRA International Youth Cup which is being held in Bulgaria at the end of June. The weather at Devil's Bridge was normal Welsh weather for the time of year; damp and extremely windy but it was a nice hilly course and I finished first. This was a good opener for the season and Luke my brother also won his race!

Winning the UK Inter Counties
In the middle of May, I travelled to Betws-y-Coed in North Wales with my family for the UK Inter-Counties Fell Championships. The setting for the course was in a wood on the opposite side of the road to that of the World Mountain Running Championships being held in the small town in September this year. I won the combined Under 16 and Under 18 girls race and it was nice to see some quick under 16 girls that came through in second and third overall which bodes well for the future of mountain running in the UK. The course was very exciting with a short steep uphill to start followed by an undulating section along a mountain bike track and then lots of technical downhill sections back down the finish. I really enjoyed the race and the whole day and it was great to watch the other races in the Welsh sunshine!

A week later and I was in London for the BUPA Westminster Mile which forms the British Mile Road Championships. I ran in this event last year in the Under 17 age group and finished third so I hoped to build on this. The course is a flat and fast one mile loop around the area near Buckingham Palace. This year the event marked the 30th Anniversary of when Steve Cram set the World Mile Record at Oslo with a time of 3:46.32. This still stands as the British Mile record today! This meant that Steve Cram and lots of fellow Olympic Athletes ran in the Olympian Mile at the event in Westminster and it was a fitting ending with Steve Cram coming away with the win!

Under 17 Womens' Podium
Later in the afternoon after a thorough warm up I was ready to race. The gun went and I sat at the front of the field with a group of athletes ready to react if anybody was to make a move. At 800 metres to go I started to wind up my pace and the number of girls around me decreased until I was leading the race with just Sarah Chapman on my shoulder. Soon we came to the last 200 metres and I was pulling away. I came away with the win in a time of 4:57 which was 12 seconds quicker than last year! It was a privilege to meet Hannah England and to have my medal presented to me by none other than Steve Cram himself! Winning the event was great as it showed me that you can still be focusing on mountain running in the Summer and run fast times if you get your training right!

The next weekend I travelled to Glenridding in the Lake District for the British Athletics Trial for the European Mountain Running Championships. The European Championships are uphill only this year so the trial race was mainly uphill. I walked the course two days before the race and discovered that although the weather was sunny, it was likely to be very windy up the final valley. I knew that the weather forecast for the day of the race was wet and windy so I knew to expect bad conditions on race day. Race day came and as promised conditions were pretty brutal as the rain started to add to the wind. British Athletics take four people from each age group to the European Mountain Running Championships but only the first two in the trial race are guaranteed to be selected so I knew what I had to do. Last year I finished 5th in the European Trial against some really strong girls so I wanted to build on this and wanted to successfully qualify to run for Great Britain in this event this year.
Running into the cloud
The race started steadily along the river before we started up the first steep climb; I pushed on in order to see if anybody would go with me but ended up getting a lead. I maintained and built on this lead throughout the remainder of the race working against the strong wind up the valley. I was very happy to win the race and to successfully qualify for the European Mountain Running Championships which are being held in Madeira on July 4th.  Also in the GB Junior Women's team for the Europeans this year is the defending champion Georgia Malir, Catriona Graves and Elizabeth Aspley and I’m looking forward to racing with these girls in Madeira in a few weeks time!

I would just like to say a huge thank you to Norman Walsh, The Metropole Hotel and The Ron Pickering Memorial Fund for the sponsorship this year which has helped me to qualify to run for Great Britain. The support is wholly appreciated!

Until next time,
Heidi