Talent Squad Training in the Lakes

The review of the Performance Pathway for 16-18 year olds resulted in the creation of 3 Super-Regional squads – North, South and Scotland. Last week the 3 squads met together for the 1st time for a training camp in the Lakes.

Between the 17th and 22nd February 50 juniors from the 3 squads met at Castle Head Field Study Centre outside Grange-over-Sands. The whole squad was present for the weekend but the training was planned to accommodate those who were on half term before the weekend and those who were on holiday after (and the few brave juniors who decided to stay for the full 6 days of training!).

It was fantastic to get the whole squad together and many thanks to Richard Tiley from Talent North so worked so hard to set everything up.

As seems to be par for the course with junior training camps we were treated to not one – but 3 storms to add to the excitement and organisational chaos. Dudley first of all meant a last minute change of plans for the juniors travelling south from Scotland on Wednesday 16th, to escape Scotland before the trains all stopped. Eunice added some wind, rain and snow to the mix  and finally Florence upset the travel plans for those from the South of England.

The whole focus of the camp was Race Preparation – each day focussing on different disciplines. The first day focussed on Middle Distance racing at Bethecar, as well as 3rd leg relay training. The idea of the relay training was to simulate everyone starting at random times and trying to race to win. There was some very serious racing – but unfortunately some not very good control number checking, with many getting so focussed on racing they didn’t check their gaffles or control codes correctly.

Friday focussed on long distance at Holme Fell.  We left the centre to head for Holme Fell  in pouring rain and strong winds, with the rain turning to sleet.  No-one was particularly keen to leave the minibuses!  However, the weather did improve slightly as it changed from constant rain/sleet/hail to showers with glimpses of sun.  One of the key learning points the juniors discovered was how much longer it look them at the start to get ready with jackets, gloves, extra layers and cold fingers.

Not sure the sign was correct ……

Saturday morning was time for a Sprint racing in Grange-over-Sands. The long course switched between urban to a wooded hill with the change of context throwing many people’s perception of scale.  The sun just about stayed out for the morning but we were “treated” to an unexpected  snow shower as we headed back to the centre for a hot lunch, debrief and race preparation workshop.  In the evening we headed to Ilkley for the British Night Championships. Nearly all the juniors took part enjoying the challenge of the snow covered moors in the dark.  There were lots of great runs by the juniors – despite having had a busy few days of racing. Congratulations to James Hammond (FVO) who won the M16 and Angus Laird (INVOC) who was 2nd.

After the Night Championships and a late night, there were some very tired juniors (and coaches!) as we headed to Bigland for 1st leg relay training. The aim was to practise mass starts, keeping with the pack and using your fellow competitors to assist you – but not following! There were 3 short races – each with an uphill finish.  Although we started out in the dry, the heavy rain soon started and our makeshift camp of tents of shelters was appreciated by all between races.

Monday was a return to Sprint and Middle racing, this time at Windermere for the Sprint and Holme Fell for the middle. Unfortunately Sam Griffin (GRAMP) slipped on some moss covered rock in the sprint and dislocated his shoulder – we wish him a speedy recovering.

The final day was long distance racing at Blawith, before it was time to gather up all the lost property and head for home. Everyone enjoyed having the whole group together, creating an exciting buzz and lots of friendly rivalry. Each day finished with an analysis and discussion of the day’s racing, with courses and routes

Thanks to Judy Bell (ScotJos) for this report.