Saturday 16th December can only be seen as a major triumph and remembered as such. The infamous Warley Woods course, fields with athletes from both Warwickshire and Worcestershire, a dry mild day – were the melting pot for what was a masterclass from juniors-masters athletes competing for BRAT, with medals for both team and individuals.
Going into the weekend, selection for the upcoming Intercounties in Loughborough next year would have been at the forefront of many minds. Each race had its favourites, underdogs and stakes for the athletes involved. Many BRATs who raced in the WMYACCL aimed to showcase their form in the championship. Prepared by the weeks of Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday sessions set by their respective coaches, the stage was set.
Proceedings began at 10:45 with the U11 boys’ race and set the tone for the day to come. The boys took Warwickshire Gold with our three scorers being: Charlie Keenan (4th), Thomas Woodward (7th), Anaadh Singh (9th). All counters finished in the top 10, making the difference in the tiebreaker as both BRAT and RSAC ended on 20 points! Brilliant packing and a great team performance to bag a team gold.
This race was swiftly followed by the U11 girls’ race which saw the first BRAT individual Gold of the day from Nya Williams, leading her team to a Warwickshire team bronze medal! The medal winning scorers were Nya Williams (1st), Hiba Bailey (17th), Ellen Horner(18th). Phenomenal effort from the girls.
A growingly competitive U13 boys race followed. Ollie Knight led the charge for us, in what he described to me as a weirdly “tactical race” upfront with some big hitters from Worcestershire and Warwickshire. He held his own and earned a silver medal in Warwickshire and 5th overall, deservedly booking his spot for intercounties. Earlier in the year Ollie suffered from a stress fracture, he’s now stronger than ever. The team earned a silver, scorers were Ollie Knight (2nd), Ben Eden (12th), Daniel Tyler (15th). Brilliant result for the boys in a race separated from 1st to 30th by a mere 3 minutes!
The U13 girls followed, despite not being able to count in the team race, it was fantastic to see both Orla Woodman (11th) and Maiara Dalmedo (19th) representing the BRAT vest with strong placings for both. Building great foundations to build off into the coming season.
Onto the U15 Boys, after dropping me in a mile rep session that Tuesday, Elliot Dawlatly finishes 5th overall and 4th Warwickshire in a stacked field! Followed up by Diego Dalmedo in 22nd Warwickshire. Both Diego and Elliot put up great individual performances and have been regulars repping with the U20/Senior group and it’s brilliant to see their fitness is cultivating and translating to the county stage!
In the U15 girls, the one and only “trialba” Alba Smith-Pena finished 11th overall and 5th Warwickshire! Great to see her perform so well after having a rough patch of form, she is one who doesn’t shy away from the struggle. Amira Emery follows as 7th Warwickshire, bolstering her solid cross season in the WMYAACCL this year with another solid performance.
I take much joy in the U17 Men’s result as Jack Price takes a dominant individual gold at Warley – the U17 BRAT 10K record holder from a week previous (32:28), our training group will tell you the same story “he’s different gravy” – a beneficiary of the senior group and the Nick Price system. You will often find him repping in the front group on a Tuesday or a Tempo with Morgan Hill on a Thursday – humbly and consistently putting the work in. Jack sat on the shoulder of the lead for the first one and a half laps (of three), a race that started with a fiery tempo up the hill on lap one, he began turning the screw, creating a gap between himself and second place. In a hectic race, Jack managed to glide along the course magestically. He finished the race with a winning margin close to 30 seconds – rewarding himself post-race with hot chocolate. This performance led BRAT to get another team gold! Scorers were Jack Price (1st), Niklas Van Mourik (5th), Kaelen Van Vliet (12th). Both Niklas and Kaelen’s performances were excellent in their own respect. Niklas building strong on his form from the last league race after a tough start to cross season, racing and training wise, getting his volume and intensity right and rewarded with gold after his 35:18 in Telford 10K the week prior. Kaelen, with some slightly wild training numbers on Strava, has been building his way up the BRAT pecking order, has been repping well on Tuesdays with his hard work and perseverance rewarded as the third scorer in this gold winning team.
The U20 Women were represented by Jemima Jackson who finished a gruelling 3-lap course with 64th overall and a 6th place Warwickshire finish. Jemima holding her own in a race combining U20, Senior and Masters categories into the same field.
The U20 Men capped off the medal winnings in the junior section. The 4-lap course saw Morgan Hill – Mr “Does not like muddy cross” – lead the BRAT team charge to gold finishing 45th Overall and 4th Warwickshire U20. After a difficult Telford performance, having to cross train for two weeks prior, Morgan showed the benefits of his training. Oscar Fleming comes in as second scorer, 62nd Overall and 8th Warwickshire U20, returning from studying at Bath University with a strong return to racing! He last raced intercounties earlier this year and is aiming to build on this through is training this Christmas break. Final scorer was me finishing 77th Overall and 13th Warwickshire U20. Both Morgan and Oscar sailed past me by about 2km, I knew my job was to hang on as third scorer – I was rewarded with my first medal in a BRAT vest. To have that team gold and shield presented to Morgan and I on the day, I was filled with immense pride at what we as a team had accomplished.
The support on the day from the U11s all the way to the final race was unbelievable! It gives such a boost to hear that classic “come on BRAT” echoed around the course. From parents and coaches alike: seeing Nick and Steve around the course, to hearing the all to familiar Jort Van Mourik cheering from the gun, or seeing Toby Gosnall with his camera capturing the best and worst of each race. BRAT support is unrivalled in my eyes.
I think it goes without saying that much of our U15, U17 and U20 success is in great part due to the support of the senior group (who also found success at Warley) on a Tuesday night. I don’t think many of these performances would have flourished without that group allowing many of us to sit on the back of them week after week. I am grateful and hope the partnership between the senior and junior group continues to grow beyond this winter – I think I speak for many of the group when I say Tuesday evening sessions have been some of the most fun and impactful training I have ever done.
Additionally, the major reason for success is the coaches at BRAT, cultivating such a warm environment at BRAT in such cold dark conditions week after week all winter long from the U11s and below all the way to the U20s and above. So, while it is important to congratulate and appreciate your own individual brilliance, as athletes be sure to wish your coaches a thank you next time you see them (I know myself I wouldn’t be half the runner I am if I didn’t listen to the likes of Nick and Dan Dalmedo). I have met so many brilliant individuals at BRAT, heard so many great stories – Colin Bailey has a true passion for the growth of the junior section and I only see more success coming from the endurance section in 2024!
Write-up by: Panu Khumchoo-Joonpijarn
Additional photos here.