New Zealand’s Jack Beaumont (Central Southland College) and Caitlin McQuilkin-Bell competed against the world’s beat overnight at the World Junior Mountain Running Champions in Wales.
Jack Beaumont, the 2015 New Zealand Secondary Schools Mountain Running champion and current national U20 3000m steeplechase champion, finished a very credible 12th in a highly competitive field of 63 of the world’s best junior hill runners.
The 8.9km course was a two-lap up-and-downhill race that gains 800 feet (over 250 metres) of elevation per lap. Jack’s time of 37.04 was just a few seconds outside the top 10. The pre-race favourite, Ferhat Bozkurt of Turkey, won by over two minutes in 33.56 to second placed American Levi Thomet and with runners from Turkey, Italy and the UK filling the minor places.
The Junior Women’s race was one lap of the demanding course, or 4.7km. Caitlin McQuilkin-Bell, who grew up in the Manawatu before moving to Brisbane several years ago and qualified at the Australian mountain running championships, finished 25th of 43 competitors. Her time of 22.33 was two minutes behind the top three runners who were from the USA, the Czech Republic and France.
Caitlin is usually a track runner, having had success in Australia in the 800m, 1500m, mile, 3000m, 2000m and 3000m steeplechase races. The 18-year old has recently started at the University of Florida on a four-year athletics scholarship.
In Year 7 Angus White and some mates decided to run to improve their fitness. There was no competitive purpose behind the decision, it was just something to do.
White quickly realised he had some ability. He has competed at the National Secondary Schools’ athletics championships every year he has been at New Plymouth Boys’ High School.
His best result at the event was in Year 10 when he won a silver medal in the junior 3000 meters. White has often suffered from rotten luck at the meeting.
Twice he has finished fourth in the cross country and one year he broke his arm while preparing for the event, White explains what happened.
“I was competing in orienteering and was heading to quickly towards a wet bridge. I slipped and fell on my arm and it broke.”
White soon recovered from that setback. Last year he finished second in the Under-18 New Zealand road running championships.
In 2015 he has been in imperious form!
In March at the club Nationals at Newtown Park in Wellington he won the national youth 1500m and 3000m titles. He has improved his best times to four minutes flat for the 1500m and 8:45 for the 3000m. White reflects on his capital success.
“Both races were really close. The 3000m was held in heavy wind. It was a tactical race and I won by a second. The 1500m was real close, only a second separated four runners.”
With the winning feeling, White headed to Tauranga as one of the favourites to capture the National road running title that eluded him last year.
With an impressive finish he trounced the field winning the 6km in 19:23, beating James Uhlenberg (Sacred Heart College) by eleven seconds with Isaiah Priddey (Hamilton BHS) third. Priddey was a national cross country champion earlier in the year.
“I was really happy with how it went and timing my run at the end. I’ve been working on my finish, so that was good,” White said.
“The key moment was at the roundabout at the top of the hill. I accelerated then and managed to get a break.
White is coached by Karen Gillum-Green who guides a number of athletics in Taranaki.
At present Taranaki is a hotbed of fine runners. Four Taranaki cross country runners have been named to represent New Zealand at the world secondary schools’ cross-country champs in Hungary next year. The worlds will be held in Budapest in April.
The athletes and their schools are: Angus White (New Plymouth Boys’ High School), Isabella Kelly (New Plymouth Girls’ High School), Hannah O’Connor (Sacred Heart Girls’ College) and Waverley’s Jane Lennox (Wanganui Collegiate).
The New Zealand team is made up of six female runners and six male runners from around the country.
The most recent Taranaki athlete to compete at the worlds was Rhys Bishop (NPBHS) in 2013.
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