If you’d asked me last year what the best performance was from our U13 girls, I’d have said their amazing 28th place at Mansfield. On that occasion a stunning performance by Aisling in particular bumped them well up the order. It would be a huge challenge this year to match that feat and a very tough one to improve on it.

Amazingly, we had three teams lined up at the start. We kept together the three that did so well last year, Aisling, Verity and Esme. Our second team was more like an A2 team than a B team. I thought Grace, Kiana and Beth had every chance of being he first of our teams home on the day. All of those girls are Year 8, with our third team being made up of Year 7 girls Charlotte, Jess and Sara.

So starting with our headline performance, last year’s trio came home in 20th. Way beyond expectation and a huge improvement on a similar placing at the Northern XC Relays. What was particularly great to see was how much Esme and Verity improved on last year’s time. This was very much a team performance with only 13 seconds separating the slowest of the three from the fastest. They also progressed nicely through the field as the event went on, moving up from 46th after the 1st leg, to 33rd and finally 20th.

Our next team home was that of Grace, Kiana and Beth in a hugely impressive 32nd. If you look at all the B team positions they were 4th B team – quite astonishing! In an added surprise, Beth was our fastest runner of the day, once again showing that I shouldn’t be allowed to pick the teams. So they could have finished higher than 20th…

Our final team of Charlotte, Jess and Sara managed to finish 74th. While I think this trio are capable of doing better than this, it is worth pointing out that this was their first trip to a National event and I hope the experience has given them a taste for more. We’ve seen how much girls can improve in one year and there’s no reason why these couldn’t be in the headlines next year. One thing I should point one is that we were one of only three teams to complete a C team and these girls were the 2nd of those to finish.

One of our aims is to try and get as many athletes involved as we can. I feel we’ve ticked all the boxes in the U13 girls category on this occasion. 20th A, 4th B and 2nd C. The strength in depth is exciting and we can only hope that these girls want to develop as part of a team. Who knows how high they can get if they show the commitment in the coming years?

Andrew W.