The Junior Home International is always one of the highlights of my year. Only 4 teams (England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland) compete, which provides a great atmosphere as I know most of the people that go, and everyone socialises a lot more than at other events. On top of that, it is a big achievement to be selected for England at the JHI so I was pleased to be going. I had been the past 3 years as well, so I had been to one in every country but Scotland and was excited to experience it slightly differently here.
The journey up to Pitlochry was long- I left my house at 9:30am on the Friday, and a bus, train and minibus ride got me there for around 6pm. We stayed at a very cute backpacker’s hostel, which had a really cool atmosphere. After eating at various places in the small town of Pitlochry, we had the England team meeting to discuss the timings and specifics of the event for the next day, followed by a reasonably early night in preparation for the next day.
The Individual event on Saturday was held at Errochty, a tough and steep typical Scottish forest. Although thick undergrowth made it tough, I really enjoyed this area as I felt that although it was technical in places, accuracy was most important which made for a fun race because it meant you could just run and soak up how nice the area was. I heard a lot of people complain about how nasty it was, but clearly the many brambles and brashings of Yorkshire have given me a different perspective. Although I made some little time losses, I only really made 2 mistakes where I was a little too high or low on the slope, but accurate distance judgement allowed me not to lose too much time here. These mistakes did not cost me the race completely as I came 2nd, less than a minute down on my good friend Lizzie Stansfield from Scotland, which I was really pleased with- it always feels good to represent your team on a podium. Unfortunately, Scotland beat England overall on the individual, despite our team doing great as well. But the ceilidh in the evening made up for it! Always a good time.
The relay event on Sunday was at Bonskeid- a hilly but much more runnable area. I was in a pack for most of the course, in a good position but making silly mistakes throughout. At control #11, I managed to lose my pack by taking a better exit route from the control, and from there ran well alone until I caught up 2nd, 3rd and 4th place. By this point I was very tired and so stuck to the back through the short spectator loop which was just up a hill and back down again. I set my team out in 5th, but not far off 2nd, and my second leg runner was able to catch time, and 3rd leg even more. My team with Maya Hampshire-Wright and Hannah Hately came second, which was a great finish to the weekend, another fun JHI. Thanks to YHOA for always supporting me to be able to go to the JHI.
Photo credit: Will Heape