Back in 2011, I competed in my first junior FRA (Fell Running Association) fell race not knowing where running would take me. Skip 6 years ahead and it comes to my final junior FRA series.
Photo: My first ever FRA fell race
Since I started doing the FRA series I fell in love with fell running. Everything I loved about it from the mud to the competition between athletes from across the country which I can now class as friends. The junior FRA is a series of 6 races across the country (usually in the north) with the best 4 races counting for the championship. This means that if you have a bad race or can’t make one, you will still be able to count in the championship.
2011 – My first FRA race was Pendle fell race as an 11-year-old at the start of my running life. I was running just to enjoy it and at this age, I didn’t know what I was getting myself into. In the race, I came 11th girl, which I very pleased with. The 2nd FRA in that series was Coniers fell race. This has always been one of my favorite fell race with a very technique decent towards the ends. This race I finished 15th girl. At this age, I didn’t know about the FRA championship and only did these two races as they were in my club (Bingley Harriers) championship. With only doing two race I finished 15th U12 girl overall. Photo: Coiners Fell Race
2012 – The following year, I had moved up into the under 14 age group which meant I could now run longer races. The first race was Pendle, which I raced the previous year. I was able to of finished 9 and being one of the youngest in the age group I was delighted. The next one was Anniversary Wa! At that age, this was the furthest I had ever traveled for a race. I was very excited to be racing in the real mountains, I was able to finish 4th girl in the age group which I was over the moon about, never thinking I was capable of anything like that. Cowpe fell race was the next in the championship, I remember it being very sunny that day and I came, 10th girls. Clougher pike was the 4th Fell race, and I finished 6th girl. The penultimate race to this championship was Hawkswick which I remember being really steep at the start and a steep decent as well. I was able to finish in a 12th place in the girls. The final race in the championship was an uphill only in Sedbergh. This was my first ever uphill only and I really enjoyed it, also I was able to finish 10th. This was my first series where I did all 6 races and counted in the overall championship. Overall I finished 6th which I was very happy with. Around September time I found out that cause of how well I had done throughout that championship I was legible to go to the Junior English fell running development camps in November. I was very nervous as I didn’t really know anyone how will be there apart from my brother. However, this day was a brilliant experience being able to learn about a sport I was coming to love from England coaches and athletes who had to represent GB. We learned about training over winter and about injury prevention. I was also lucky enough to be invited to another one of these camps in March 2013 before the fell season started again. This one we learned about training messages for peaking perform and technique and training targets. This camp was very helpful for the up and coming fell season.
Photo: From Cowpe 2012 and 2013
2013 – The first race of the new season was a new one to me, Rivington Pike. This was one of my favorite FRA fell race with a brilliant decent, I placed 7th girl in this race. Another new one to the championship was the 2nd race. this was Church Streeton down in Shropshire. The start of this was very steep and then it flattened off towards the top, you had to take it quite steady at the beginning. I was delighted with the result of 4th girl. 3rd race was back to Cowpe like last season. However the weather wasn’t like the year before, it started off very wet and rainy, finally coming sunny for my race. Still finishing in 9th with the very wet and muddy conditions. The uphill only at Sedburgh was the next race, unlike the last race, it was lovely and sunny. I was able to equal my last races place with a 9th again. The next race was at Hawkswich, however, I had to miss this race due to having other plans. The last race in the championship was at Langdale. This had to be one of the hardest fell race I had done at this age. It was a very steep and rocky path all the way to the top and then a fast undulating top section till a technical descent to the finish. The heat on that day made it extra hard, but the river at the end help cool us all down, unfortunately, I can’t find the results and as it was a few years ago I can’t remember where I placed. Overall in the championship this year I placed 9th, it was very close between me and 2 other girls all finishing with in 1 point of each other. Yet again I was invited to another training camp.
Photo: Rivington Pike and Sedburgh Uphill only
Yet again I was invited to another training camp in March 2014 before the FRA fell season started. We learned about injury prevention, stretching and warm ups for the up and coming season. We also got told about international opportunities to represent England and GB.
2014 – This fell season consists of 7 fell races instead of 6. The first one was back to Pendle. I finished in 11th place which was very good for my new age group as a U16. The next race was back to Rivington Pike. This time I was able to go all the way to the top, I really enjoyed the descent apart from nearly falling toward the bottom. I was able to finish in 5th place which I was very happy with. Back to a race which was in the 2011 and one of my favorite FRA race, Coiners. I was able to push and finish 6th place. The 4th race I had to miss as I had a wedding to go to. There was a new uphill only championship this year at Turner. This was very different from Sedburgh, as Sedburgh is grassy and quite unever to run on, however, Turner starts very rocky and stays that way all the way up. Also to make it harder it was raining making the rocks slippy. I really enjoyed this race and getting to run in some of the mountains. Yet again I can’t find the results for this race so I don’t know where I finished. The next race was Clougha Pike and having a race which I was yet again very happy with my race that day finishing in 5th place. The final race of the season was Wharfedale TTT. This race was being held by Bingley Harriers (my club) up in Kettlewell in the Yorkshire Dales. We had a brilliant day for it with the sun shining and blue skies. The day was brilliant. However, I didn’t have the race that I wanted and started to feel sick towards the end of the races making me slow down. I finished in 11th which is still a good place. Overall in the championship this year I finished 8th which I was very happy with. Photo: The U16 and U18 race at the TTT
This was also the year I got selection for representing England in the Junior Home-Internationals (JHI) for the age group u16 and u18. This was due to my position in the overall championship and my position in the JHI trials. I was also invited to my last development camps. At this one, we learned about foam rolling and stretching after races, nutrition, and international opportunities. Photo: The junior development camp athletes doing drills
Photo: Errwood Hall Fell Race
2015 – The new season started with a new race at Errwood Hall. This race was very twisty and turny going throw the woods at the start and then up onto the moors, before turning and running straight down the hill to the finish. I was able to finish in 7th place which I was happy. The next race was back to Pendle, doing the same course as the year before. This year, however, I was able to finish in a strong 4th place. I was delighted with this. The next race was West Nab which incorporated the Yorkshire Championship. The start of the race had a single path down into the wood and then up a steep hill before running along the top of the moor, back down to the bottom of the valley, up the other side and turning and running back the way we came. I really enjoyed this race and was able to push and finish 6th place, I also finished 3rd in the Yorkshire Champs which I was over the moon with. The following race was at Coiners again. I love this race and was very happy to of finished in 4th place. Another new race to the championship was Malham which was the 5th race. We ran this race separately to the boys which is unusual to fell races, but we did run with the U18 girls. I was able to finish 9th out of the U16 girls (13th overall in the race. The final race of the 2015 season was back to tuner uphill, yet again like the previous year, it was very wet and rainy. I was so happy to of finished 4th in this race. Overall in the championship, I finished 4th which was a shock to me as I never thought I was capable of finishing this high in the championship. Photo above: Running at West Nab
2016 – This season wasn’t my best season due to injury with my back the previous October and due to a cut down on training as I had GCSE exams that May-June. I had also moved up into the under 18. The first race was a new one, Todd Crag in Ambleside. It was a great day and very sunny apart from starting to hail whilst running, but that’s what can happen whilst fell running. I finished in 7th place with a strong finish. The 2nd race was taken back to Hawkswick. However, the course had been changed since the last time I did it and we went up the over the side of the hill. I struggled with this race as my back was hurting a lot, I finished 11th place. I had to miss the next race which was back at Malham. My next race we back to Turner uphill, as previous years it was raining which wasn’t a surprise. I found this really hard with my back as it was cold to it hurt a lot and having to go all the way to the top, I finished in 11th. The next race was back to a classic from previous service, Clougha Pike. As being a u18 we got to run with the seniors. I really enjoyed this race and the downhill was great. I finished in 8th place and had a strong down hill finish. Another race which was brought back was Church Stretton which was the final race of the championship. The weather was lovely and the sun was shining. I enjoyed being back in this race, some of the hills were very steep. I was able to finish 8th place. Overall in this championship, I finished 8 which I was happy for as it was one of the youngest in the age group and with my injury as well.
Photo: Todd Crag and Turner Uphill fell race for 2016
2017 – This year was my last doing the Junior FRA season in the newly named championship categories now being a u19 instead of u18. Along with the new category, we had a new race for the first race, Cock Howe on the North York Moors. We raced with the U17 (new U16) which meant that we had more competitions between both age groups. In the U19 I finished 5th girl which I was very happy with after last year not being my best. Back to a race which was in the 2015 championship which is West Nab. I was doing the same course as I did back in 2015 as a U16. I was a wet day but came dry for my race. I finished 8th in my age group as yet again the U19 girl’s races with the U17’s. Anniversary Wa was brought back this year. They changed where the start and finish were from the field to the bottom of the mountain. The first climb was very steep and then a nice run along the top of Cat Bells, until descending, then running along the bottom until having to climb one more time and then back down to the finish. I finished 7th in this race. Coiners was the next FRA race where I could run the full route. The weather was very wet, rainy and cold on this day which was hard on my back. However, I enjoyed doing the full route and was able to finish in 12th place. A new uphill race to the championship was Great Whernside in Kettlewell. I set of slower to be able to keep running all the way up the hill. It was different to Turner as it was more grass than rocky paths. Getting to the finish it was very windy, I finished in 8th places after falling up the hill. My final ever junior FRA was back to Cowpe, with a new course, on yet another wet day. Before racing I wasn’t looking forward to racing that day, I wasn’t up to it at all. Everyone was warming up and my dad talked to me and help persuade me to run. I was so glad I did, I loved the new course and I finished in 14th place. I was so happy to of done the race and not finish my Junior FRA’s on a low. Overall in my last fell championship, I finished in 8th place, which I was very happy with. Photo above: Right – West Nab, Left- Anniversary Wa.
I can’t believe that My Junior FRA’s have come to an end. I had loved every minute of them and I want to say a huge thank you to all at the: junior FRA, coordinators, event organisers, parents for their support at all the races, friends and fellow runners and most of all my Mum and Dad for allows being there for me and trekking me and Matt across the country for the last 7 years to any race we want . Also a mention to Dave and Eileen Woodhead for their support to me and Matt throughout the junior ranks. It has been a pleaser doing the Junior FRA’s. I hope to see this championship to go on for many more year and to see many juniors enjoying it as much I did.
Photo: from different race over the last few years with Friends
Until next time
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