We’ve been fortunate enough to have a great men’s team in this event for a long time, but this time the highest placed team was our U13 girls.  The A team of Aisling McHale, Verity Charnley and Beth Robinson came home in an impressive 22nd place, and have been moved up to 21st as a result of a disqualification.  Aisling ran extremely well on the first leg to come home in 11th place (my auto-correct keeps changing her name to Sailing – very apt!).  With the right blend of endurance training, she may well be able to mix it with the best.  Following such a strong first leg, it was always likely to be a bit tougher for Verity Charnley.  It’s not easy on leg 2 when other runners start to pass you.  Verity had earned her place in the A team with her strong performance the week before, and although she was not as quick this time, she still ran well to keep the team in with a chance for a strong finish.  The final leg was ran by the talented Beth Robinson who put in a strong performance to bring the team in ahead of the first batch of B teams.

Three years ago, we had the beginnings of an U13 girls team with a group that finished 29th out of 31.  Unfortunately, that time it fell away.  This time we are hoping it will be different.  This is a much stronger group and that is emphasised by the quality of our B team who finished 35th out of 46 teams.  They were led off by Esme Pearson who actually ran faster than two of the girls in the A team!  Bad team selection?  Unfortunately, they just can’t make up their mind on who is going to run quicker.  Second off was Orla Flynn, with the team being brought home by Grace Adams.  All of these girls have the potential to become really good with regular training.  Hopefully they will all want a stab at the cross country this year.

All of these girls are in year one of this age bracket, so it will be interesting to see what happens over the next year.  We have some good U11 girls coming into this age category next year as well as some capable girls that were on the fringe this time.  Hopefully, it will make for a team selection nightmare!

We also had an U13 boys team out.  Unfortunately, they didn’t do quite so well and finished last in 42nd (1 disqualification).  While I have to look at this and admit that I’ve probably got it wrong on this occasion, I hope they enjoyed the theatre of the event and would like to try to improve so that they can do better in future.  I would like to point out that the team of Ben Lomas, Angus Morris and Sam Fogarty are all capable runners and put in decent performances, it’s just that as a team they were perhaps not yet ready for this event.  All three boys ran faster than several runners on other teams, but they didn’t have that one really quick runner needed to bump them up a few places.  This has been a learning experience for me and I’ll take what I’ve learnt of the standard required for this event and adapt what I do going forward.

This was a particularly proud day for me as getting junior teams into these events has been one of my goals as a coach.  It finally looks like we might be there with the girls, and hopefully we are close with the boys.  The challenge now becomes how to develop this in a sustainable way so that Altrincham will continue to have representation in these events over the coming years, and hopefully get teams than can challenge some of the more established stalwarts of this event.  This is something new for us, and I think that’s exciting!