AUTHORS : Killian Mooney, Gerry Brady, Llanberis was the location for the 2011 British and Irish championships. A small, picturesque village at the foot of Snowdon, also the host town for the second Commonwealth Championships. Not so picturesque though, was the weather, as we opened the curtains on the morning of the race, a cold, wet day greeted us. However, this did not dampen our spirits, after a short and pleasant trip across the sea we were all in a good mood and looking forward to race day.

The morning of the race. A twenty minute coach trip brought us from The Conway Centre to a bustling Llanberis, taken over by a festival of running for the weekend. As the race was being held in conjunction with the Commonwealth Championships there was a great sense of excitement in the air. After a chat with the Canadians and South Africans, and about thirty minutes before the start of the under 16s race, the heavens opened again. This did not diminish our focus though, of running a steady race and not starting too hard. After my staple pre race porridge and banana, I felt good and capable of running a good race.

As preparation for the race, I didn’t go overboard training, as it can be easy to do. My usual four days a week, with one long run a week and a trip or two up Three Rock in the last month set me up nicely for a good performance in Llanberis.

As the under 16s made our way off, the flat first 150 meters lent itself to a fast opening pace, taken out by the Scottish and the English teams. At the top of the climb the two teams (boys and girls) were up there in contention, fighting for every place. This task was made all the more difficult on the descent with the slippy underfoot conditions.

From the start I decided not to stick with the early pace, but to pick off the leaders further up the course. As the steep climb approached, the early leaders began to drop off and I found myself to the front with two English and one Scottish runner. Around halfway up the ascent, I took the lead, knowing my descending is not the best, but never looked back. I was felling comfortable but by the time I made it to the last incline, a steep 400 metre ascent, I could really feel it in the legs. At the turn there was no one in sight but I knew they’d be hot on my heels. After a comfortable descent, a great atmosphere greeted us into the town, but after a really tough race I just felt like lying down.

At the finish line the girls team was led in by Clare McCarthy, who had another brilliant and consistent race to claim second place. Sorcha Humphreys also ran very well to finish in 7th place. Rosie Hynes(9th) and Ella Fennelly(12th) secured the second team place ahead of Wales.

In the boys race, Danny Lawler ran very well to come home in 7th place just ahead of Michael Healion and Andrew Cullen in 12th and 13th place respectively.
Both had very good races considering it was their first international and one of their first mountain races. Andrew kick started a great season with a fantastic 9th place finish in the Connemara half marathon earlier this year.

Come half three, and the start of the under 18 races, some much needed sun sneaked out from behind the clouds. With that came some great debut performances from Brigid Denehy(11th) and Jake O’Regan(6th). Louise Hill-Stirling had a great descent to finish 3rd and Éadaoin O’ Reilly(13th) and Hugh Armstrong(5th) also finished very well after great performances at the World Championships. Meghan Ryan, leading at the top, also had a great race to hold on to 5th place. Fintan O’Doherty(15th) and Kevin Brennan(17th) finshed off an excellent day of racing for the Irish team. Also worth a mention is Killian O’ Connor, who got injured at the World Championships and unfortuneatly couldn’t run here but gave great support to everyone on the course.

All in all, there were great performances from all on the Irish team, if only the sickly boat journey home could have been as good.