This is our chance to get the club together as a group and get everyone competing against each other, and as such it’s perfectly suited to the current restrictions on meeting other schools! We were lucky that by the time of the final week, the lockdown had ended and we were able to take our first tentative steps off the school site, if only down to the river and along the banks of the Severn for a few hundred metres. The last time we staged the HCC was actually back in March 2019, with the March 2020 instalment shelved due to COVID-19. The S P Birley Cup goes back to 1928 so I was desperate to make sure that the 2020 race went ahead in some form before the end of this term.
Having mapped out a challenging course over exactly 2.5 miles, we were able to tie this race in with a virtual race organised by the Thames Hare & Hounds, including schools and clubs from across the country (the results of which have yet to be announced).
The junior runners would run one single 2.5-mile lap, while the seniors would run two full laps. Five miles of mud and hills is a very tough ask at the end of such a long term, but one befitting the history of this race, which in 2019 was staged over the Lawley, and the year before that was held in the teeth of a blizzard! The weather this time around was much less dramatic, and could actually be described as perfect cross-country conditions: cool, cloudy and with a very light breeze.
The seniors set off first, to the sounds of the Huntsman’s cry given by Oscar. A minute later the juniors followed, with Brad in hot pursuit of the tail-end of the seniors. He’d made decent headway at the mile mark and had opened up a significant gap on his nearest rivals, a pack including Jack, Harry, Hamish and Massimo. In the seniors, Oscar had set off powerfully and had looked to assert his dominance on the race. Harrison and Will S took it much more cautiously, with a plan to work through the field on the second lap. Sophia led the girls, confidently keeping pace with some of our sixth form boys and opening up a good lead on her nearest rival, Kaitlyn.
As the seniors were setting off for their second lap, the juniors pulled in to the finish line, with Brad taking the victory by a good margin. Harry claimed second in an excellent run, just ahead of Jack in third, with Hamish and Massimo taking fourth and fifth. The winner of the junior girls was Hattie in a great display of her current form, ahead of Angel.
The second lap proved a gruelling task for the seniors, but Oscar held on strongly for the win, with Will S and Harrison taking second and third. Will O finished well, with Sam successfully fending off a challenge from Jonny for 5th.
It was so nice to get the club together in a competitive format for the first proper race of this term – it felt like a very long time since we had this opportunity and having everyone together like this was a special moment. A big thank you to the whole club for making this memorable term such good fun in difficult circumstances. I am so proud of them!
IPH, Master in Charge of The Hunt