A 16 strong team of Under 20 and Under 23 athletes performed admirably in the Rennes 10k International team competition in Brittany, France which took place on Sunday 14 October.
Rennes, the capital city of Brittany also hosted international teams from France, Italy and Portugal as well as a team representing Brittany. The tricky 10k course comprising of ten one kilometre laps for the teams to compete against each other, a course where concentration would be a key factor, especially with the tight bends and because there was some light rain beforehand.
In very mild conditions and with the previous rain drying up, the U20 and U23 women raced first.
Becky Briggs (U20, City of Hull) was eager to get things going and set an early pace at the front of the race closely pursued by her team mate, Ella Revitt (U20, Edinburgh AC) and U23 athletes Hannah Viner (Highgate Harriers / Matt Yates) and Abbie Donnelly (Lincoln Wellington AC / Rob Lewis). With the early laps done, the later three grouped together to spearhead the race with an Italian athlete.
With 2 laps to go Abbie made her bid and pushed to the front closely tracked by the strong looking athlete from Italy who with approximately 400m remaining kicked strongly for home. Abbie, with a fine performance finished 2nd in 35:04 and first for the U23 team. Second in for the team and 3rd overall was Hannah Viner with a solid run of 35:27 followed by a determined Emma Houchell (Basildon) in 7th place, 36.33 which resulted in a superb 1st team medal. Georgia Malir (Leeds City / Andy Henderson) was 10th in 37:22.
In the U20 event, Ella Rivett had an exceptional race coming in first overall in 35:17 and with 15 second PB performance. Next in for the team and holding her concentration well was Becky Briggs in 5th overall in a time of 36:36, followed by Katie Hughes (Cornwall AC / Pete Robins) in 12th place in 38:59 This brought the team home in a fine 2nd place behind France. Louisa Whittingham (Macclesfield / Luke Gunn) was 13th in 39:27.
With some great team performances in the women race, the U20 and U23 men were motivated and eager to race.
The U23 packed well in the early to mid parts of the race, but Oliver Fox (Wells City Harriers / Richard Llewellyn-Eaton) and Joe Wilkinson (Lincoln Wellington AC / Rob Denmark) kept working away to tick off the 1k laps. Looking as though Oliver would be the first across the line for the team, he was run down over the closing metres by team mate Joe Wilkinson to be pipped on the line. Joe therefore came in first for the team in 7th place in 31:03 with Ollie in 9th in 31:04. Luke Prior (Aldershot, Farnham & District / Simon Prior) brought the team home in 3rd in 13th, 32:24. The only disappointment from the race was for Lewis Jagger (Sheffield & Dearne / Mick Woods), who unfortunately with about 3k to go and running well turned his ankle - ending his race.
In the U20 race, Zak Mohamed (Southampton AC / Peter Haynes) had an excellent race with a big PB performance of 31:41 and 1st for the team and 4th overall. He was followed by Nathan Dunn (Preston Harriers / Peter Crook) in 5th with solid race in 31:53 and to bring the team home with a great 2nd place was Conor Smith (Swansea Harriers) in 11th place in 33:04 which was his debut over the distance. Sam Costley (Southampton AC) was 13th in 33:56.
Overall, it was a very successful competition for the England team. The Rennes 10k offered a well organised, friendly, exciting and competitive race where they all committed to doing their very best.