For the second year in a row the girls were out in force at the NW Road Relays. We had three teams out for the U13s and two teams out in the U11s, matching last year’s five teams when we gave this event a big push for Don Nichol’s retirement celebration.

This time the three teams were in the U13 age category. 7 of these 9 runners had took part in this event last year. This is a very good sign as it shows that the club is keeping athletes involved over a number of years, with many of them now in at least their 3rd season of competing for the club.

The A team was made up of stalwarts Verity Charnley, Esme Pearson and Aisling McHale. Verity ran the fastest leg of the day, with another 3 of the girls within 6 seconds of that time. Esme moved the team up to 10th before Aisling McHale brought the team home in 13th, an improvement on last year’s 18th place for the U13 girls. They are capable of doing much better than this – unfortunately Aisling was suffering from an injured toe and put in a brave performance in limping home.

Perhaps more impressive were the performances of the B and C teams. A quick calculation of the fastest three runners from these and you’ll realise they would have beat the A team! The B team of Grace Adams, Kiana Ustabasi and Orla Flynn came home in 18th place. That was actually where the A team finished last year. Kiana’s run in particular was unexpected – she’s supposed to be a sprinter! The C team of Eleanor Nicholson, Eva Bucknall and Kate Fitzgerald also performed brilliantly in finishing 28th. Considering there were 40 teams, that’s pretty good for a C team. Eleanor was actually the only Year 7 competing today and she showed that I have once again underestimated her ability. Who lets me pick these teams?

One very pleasing thing to note was that all the six U13 girls that ran last year ran again this year. In addition 8 of these girls are down for the Sportcity relays, so they’re really keen. We reckon we have a potential squad of 15 U13 girls for XC this year – quite an exciting number to work with.

So on to the U11 girls. We had two teams out here with our A team matching the performance of the U13 girls in finishing 13th. No bragging rights, but it’s good to see that we have a range of ages getting involved and doing well. All of the A team actually did this event last year as part of the B and C teams, so it’s fantastic to see them still getting involved. Thea Prattley ran our fastest leg of the day, with Carys Bucknall and Ella Farquhar completing the impressive trio. There was at least one very suspicious false start here – well that’s how we train them…

The B team finished a creditable 25th out of 34 teams. Ava Allman, Izzy Jones and Ela Ustabasi ran really well, all making their debut in this kind of event. Izzy deserves a particular mention as she was the only Year 5 in the team and had just recovered from a broken arm. No, it didn’t happen at the club!

Following this, we are very excited for the cross country season with so many youngsters involved. For the U11s, we have more girls than this who could impress as well as a potentially strong team of U11 boys.

Overall, a very promising day for the junior section of the club and hopefully we will go from strength to strength.

Andrew.

Results can be found at race-results.co.uk.