FEATURING clubs runners from Carmarthen, a squad of 8 were selected to represent the Welsh team at the 12th WMRA International Youth Cup Mountain Running at Gagliano del Capo Puglia, Italy on Saturday, June 24.
With temperatures soaring towards 100 degrees Fahrenheit, the event was a good opportunity for 16-17 year-old athletes to compete on an international stage against athletes of a similar age and perhaps aim towards representing Great Britain in the future.
The girls race consisted of an up and down two lap course of 3850m while the boys over 5300m went round a total of three times. The heat certainly affected the athletes, while some coped better than others in the relentless heat and paced their race according to the conditions out in Italy.
The first race saw the girls compete on a 3850m/+250m/- 130m course which included narrow up and down technical, rocks sections.
The Welsh girls, in attempting to pace the race, found themselves, as did many others, held up at a bottleneck near the start as everyone had to negotiate a quite sharp right turn onto a narrow, single file, rocky uphill section which was less than 300 metres from the start.
Ellie Kiff along with her team-mates stuck together during the race to finish in 44th in a time of 24 minutes 36 seconds.
The boys race, described as over 30 degrees, saw talented Thomas Jones well placed with 500 metres to go but, the heat took its toll as Jones was assisted to the finish line. Iestyn Williams claimed the first Welsh finisher in 29th position with a time of 27 minutes followed by the remainder of the team.
In the team competition, Wales placed 10th and 11th respectively with up to 15 countries represented. Both races and team competitions were won by Italian athletes who made the most of the home ground advantage.
Team Managers Arwel Lewis and Delyth Brown commented that the athletes had learned a lot from the experience and acquitted themselves very well in difficult conditions.