A slight preamble before getting into how the BRAT juniors got on…
Personally, I have ran a few variations of the seniors road relays over the past few years, and when I heard about the junior road relays, I was under the impression that the junior route wouldn’t be in any way similar to the senior route, alas! THAT HILL! Yes, THAT HILL! After a lovely 100m of downhill from the start, you are essentially faced with a climb that goes on for the best part of a kilometer. Another thing to mention here, the juniors, all age groups (right down to our 11 year olds) run 3.88km, it really is quite a challenge. My view is that the organizers enjoy pain, and enjoy inflicting pain, and enjoy watching everyone run hard on the endless undulations, with a nice bit of lactic acid already in the legs after the first few minutes. I’ve tried countless times to gauge efforts levels. You can power up the hill, and endure a long and hard slog around the course, or perhaps go easier on the hill and then try to pick up the positions on what is left. Whatever I have tried, largely hasn’t gone overly well! I hope that that sets the tone for how difficult this event is, even more so in the blazing sun we had on Saturday.
With that in mind, it was a joy to see so my BRAT juniors getting involved. We had 9 teams in total, spanning all available age groups. A number of the athletes had never even pulled on a BRAT vest before, talk about jumping in at the deep end!
Starting with the U13 boys, Seb Stendall got us out to an impressive start, coming around in 7th place in an imperious time of 14:36, the 14th fastest of all the U13 boys on the day. Seb also has another year in the U13s, so hopefully this is something he can build upon when he reaches the top year of the age group. Picking up from Seb on the tough 2nd leg was Josh Taylor, another youngster in the first year of the age group. Josh acquitted himself well, coming around in 17:26 in a position of 18th. The team was anchored by Mati Stendall, who managed to overtake 4 on his leg which he completed in 16:17. The team finished in 14th place overall. Our other U13 boys team was unfortunately handicapped by an injury to Seb Horton on leg 1. Seb put in a dedicated run to get around and hand over to Sam Vaughen, but Seb is going to have a bit of a rest now and come back strong and ready for the cross-country season. Wishing you all the best and a speedy recovery Seb. Sam ran an impressive leg of 17:21, picking up 5 places on his way around.
The u13 girls A team were led out by triathlon specialist Alba Pena-Smith, sneaking under the 17 minute barrier with an impressive 16:59. This put the team in 20th position as Amira Emery took over on leg 2. Amira powered up the hill, overtaking 3 on her way around in 17:52. A consistent team performance was brought home by Arriella Dalmedo in 18:47 with the team finishing in 20th place overall. The B team was led out by Noor Bailey, who was slightly daunted by the task of running 3.88km. She managed to conquer her fears, coming around in a time of 21 minutes, and will be coming back stronger next time around. Noor was joined by her friend Anna Brennan in the B team who also put in a strong run and picked up a couple of places on her way around the course.
The U15 boys team were slightly short of numbers, just the sole runner, Maxime Hannam. Maxime ran a very respectable 15:55, but unfortunately had no-one to hand over to. I’ve set myself a task of making sure we get some complete U15 boys team entered next time around. As for the girls, the trio of Ellie Mckeown, Aoife Gallagher and Lauren Hevey came home in 29th place. Ellie took the team out in 19:05, with Aoife picking up 3 places in a time of 18:41 and Lauren picking up a further 4 places in a time of 18:33.
On to the U17s, where we had 2 complete teams on the male side of things. Alex Dickson put in a strong first leg, flying up the hill and passing a few on the sprint finish with a time of 13:32 and in 15th place. It was actually the B team’s Tom Burdett that posted the fastest of the BRAT U17s however, coming home just one place ahead of Alex in a time of 13:28. Alex handed over to Oscar Fleming whilst Tom handed over to Oliver Brown, with the B team staying just ahead of the A team on the handover to the final leg. Oscar Fleming posting a solid 14:18 and Oliver 14:17, a great internal rivalry. The final leg for the A team was bike TT specialist Jeremy Maclean who showed that he is no slouch on the running side of things. Jeremy was the 3rd fastest BRAT of the day with an impressive 13:42, passing 2 on his way and bringing the team up to 14th overall. Oliver Banda anchored the B team in his first outing in a BRAT vest. The B team coming home in 26th place overall. The U17s ladies team finished in 18th position overall, the team comprising Poppy Close, Jemima Jackson & Ines Villalobos Finigan. Poppy led out in 16:37 on an extremely competitive leg 1, coming around in 23rd. Aquathlon specialist Jemima picked up 4 places in a time of 16:46 with Ines picking up a further place with a time of 18:24.
A fantastic day out, thanks to everyone involved in any capacity.
By: Colin Bailey
Links to results: https://www.race-results.co.uk/results/2021/m64rel21r.php