This year I represented GB at the junior European cup in Lommel, Belgium. This involved three races over three days. The first race was the sprint discipline. I had a late start so after a long wait in quarantine the start process began. This being only my second time representing Great Britain I was more than a little nervous but managed to contain these nerves and begin reasonably smoothly. Following a pretty average first two thirds, with some small time losses I came through the spectator control in a respectable position, on the fringes of a top ten despite my mistakes. However, in my excitement I allowed my technique to go to pot in the latter stages and made a large error, which in such a short race is critical and I plummeted on the results list. Following the race I was a little gutted not to perform especially well could take many positives from the first half!
Following a reasonably early night and a rather huge buffet dinner I felt fit and ready for the long distance the following day. The long distance, however, did not go to plan. I think the pressure of the race (my main target over the course of the weekend) and my lack of any sort of speed control (running faster than I was able to efficiently navigate) caused my race to be a poor one and again the result taken from it not something I was proud of. Both the long and the sprint I feel I can take invaluable experience from, despite the frustrating results. I will approach big races very differently in the future, taking a far more controlled and steady approach.
Finally, there was the relay. I was running first leg and from the start the pace was extremely high. I managed to stay with the front for the first third, pushing with two extremely strong athletes from the upper age class, a brief experience but one I found incredibly exciting and motivational. A mistake of around thirty seconds on the eighth control let me down though, and around 15 people swarmed passed me, crammed into this half minute. Following this two more mistakes left me to come in in the top twenty, not what I could have achieved had I avoided the first error but one I was reasonably pleased with. Looking over the race at the end I was amazed at the number of people racing, who got past me after I made such a small mistake. This showed the quality of the field and is something which is driving me to get a good base in over this winter, hopefully getting some good results in the looming cross country season as well. It has left me keen for the new season.
Thank you very much for the John Taylor Foundation for helping to fund such a rewarding trip!