European Mountain Running Championships
8th July 2007
By Gerry Brady
There were good Irish performances in all races in the recent European Mountain Running Championships held in Cauterets, France. The races were run in cool conditions with the longer races running in a low cloud for around 5 km before emerging into the sunshine for the last 2 to 3 km before finishing at the 2,400m summit. This was in stark contrast to the strong sunshine on the Saturday.
The championships incorporated junior races for the first time. Michelle Sturm finished 18th in a small field in the junior women?s race. Blue Haywood of Great Britain set the early pace but she was hauled in by Slovene Lucija Krkoc and in the end finished 5th and on the winning British team. Next on her agenda is the 3,000m in the European Youth Olympics.
In the junior men?s race, Turkey had a 1-2-3 for an impressive clean sweep. Leading Irish performer, and youngest competitor in the race, was Michael Dowling from West Wicklow who finished in 30th place. It represented a very good performance on a course that required a lot of strength.
Norway provided 1st and 3rd in the women?s race with Czech reigning champion Anna Pichrtova separating them. Switzerland packed well to take the team title. Ireland finished 14th of 16 teams and were led home by Fiona Maxwell of Mourne Runners. This represented an improvement on our placing of 16th (2006) and 17th (2005), and gives further encouragement to the larger women?s squad that is developing at home.
Turkey also took the individual victory in the senior men?s race but Italy took the team title ahead of France and Germany. Ireland finished 14th led home by Robin Bryson. This equalled our 2006 team placing. An improvement of around 6 minutes in the cumulative 4 hours taken by our three scoring athletes could have got an 11th place team finish.