Sidmouth Running Club's Kirsteen in Team GB action at the World Mountain Championships

PUBLISHED: 08:15 15 November 2019 | UPDATED: 08:32 15 November 2019

Sidmouth Running Club's Kirsteen Welch in her Team GB jersey that she wore at the 2019 World Mountain Champiosnhips. Picture: SIDMOUTH RUNNING CLUB

Sidmouth Running Club's Kirsteen Welch in her Team GB jersey that she wore at the 2019 World Mountain Champiosnhips. Picture: SIDMOUTH RUNNING CLUB

Archant

Sidmouth Running Club member Kirsteen Welch is today (Friday), quite literally, atop a mountain in South America, writes Hamish Spence.

Kirsteen Welch on the podium after the Always Aim Higher, Snowdon Marathon Trail race. Picture SIDMOUTH RUNNING CLUBKirsteen Welch on the podium after the Always Aim Higher, Snowdon Marathon Trail race. Picture SIDMOUTH RUNNING CLUB

Sidmouth Running Club member Kirsteen Welch is today (Friday), quite literally, atop a mountain in South America, writes Hamish Spence.

Kirsteen is in Argentina where she is in action as part of Team GB, who are competing in the World Mountain Championships at Villa La Angostura in Argentina.

Kirsteen first came to attention of Sidmouth Running Club chairman Terry Bewes following the infamously shortened and very snow-bound 2018 Grizzly race.

Kirsteen was the first lady to cross the line at this event and shortly after finishing she met and struck up a conversation with SRC committee member Charlotte Forrer.

Sidmouth Running Club's Kirsteen Welch leading the way in the Women Can Marathon. Picture KIT WOODCOCKSidmouth Running Club's Kirsteen Welch leading the way in the Women Can Marathon. Picture KIT WOODCOCK

During the course of their conversation it transpired that she did not belong to any running club.

That information was passed on to Terry and it was decided that a charm offensive would be put into operation.

It would be a club initiative to get her to join SRC, become a Mighty Green and run with us.

We welcomed her in, kitted her out in the club colours and encouraged her to follow her dreams to reach for her potential.

Sidmouth Running Club's Kirsteen Welch on her way to a secodn place finsh at the 2019 'The Beat' meeting on Dartmoor. Picture SRCSidmouth Running Club's Kirsteen Welch on her way to a secodn place finsh at the 2019 'The Beat' meeting on Dartmoor. Picture SRC

There's no doubt that Kirsteen has gone from strength to strength, taking part in many long-distance races as well as representing the County of Devon on many occasions.

She continued to grow in confidence and won the JP's Exe to Axe race, taking the record by knocking a whopping eight minutes from the previous holder.

Kirsteen also took part in the 2018 Women Can Marathon, which she won, having led from the start line.

She recently enlisted help from Norman Wilson, an experienced coach and together they are assessing where her strengths lie, so she has been competing in cross-country and on-road races at different distances.

Hopefully, this will help to find her optimum type and distance on which to concentrate.

There have been some injuries and a few set-backs along the way, but she sought advice and rested when necessary.

One of the set-backs was when she was putting so much effort into competitions that she became physically sick by the end of each race!

However, not to be beaten, she asked advice from the members of SRC via the club's Facebook page. This is where being a member of a club can be invaluable.

It was not long before a few of our long distance runners had responded.

Kirsteen has pushed herself relentlessly through the year, entering more competitions and enjoying much success.

However, the undoubted biggest success of all has to be being chosen to represent the country and join Team GB with a place at the 2019 Mountain Running Championship in Patagonia.

Kirsteen has spent the past fortnight in Argentina taking part in a demanding training schedule.

It takes a while to acclimatise and prepare the body to perform at its best ability when at high altitudes. She has been running on both mountains that the event will take place on.

The first mountain, Belverdere, is 1,400m above sea level and the second, Cerro Bayo, is 1,800m high. She has been up and down both mountains twice, finding it very tough going the first time!

Her legs felt very heavy and tired, she had no energy and breathing was a struggle.

On the second occasion, however, she was able to run faster, pushing the pace and found it much easier.

The fact that it has become easier really shows how hard she has been training.

Although we don't often see Kirsteen on 'club nights' as her training schedule keeps her busy, she is a great ambassador to not just our running club but to the town of Sidmouth.

To show this, Sidmouth Town councillor Ian Barlow invited Kirsteen to the council chamber so that she could be congratulated by them on her achievement.

While competing in various places around the UK she has often worn the SRC colours, which has, in turn, shown Sidmouth in a very positive light.

They thanked her for promoting the town and wished her the best of luck in South America.

Kirsteen will be up against some of the top mountain runners from around the world, so the competition will be tough.

But with her determination, I'm sure she will do herself and Team GB proud.

All of us at Sidmouth Running Club are so very proud of Kirsteen and we all wish her the very best of luck. Go girl - go!

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