Fifteen schools competed in our age category (U15) and the standard was very high, as it has been for a number of years now at this event. A huge amount of rainfall in the previous 24 hours meant the going was very soft indeed, and ours being the last race scheduled for the day, it had been nicely churned up by several hundred pairs of spikes by the time we raced!
A very fast start meant that we found ourselves some way down the pack at the end of the first straight, and indeed halfway through the first lap of three our first counter, Monty Hardcastle, was back in 18th place with Harry Remnant (Ch) three places behind that. Cameron Anwyl (S) struggled for position in the middle of the field, while Henry Ludlam (R), Lucas Arkwright (O) and James Hinwood (Rt) all found themselves toward the back of the main pack at this stage.
Nevertheless, some really determined running saw places being gained right the way through the race, probably due in part to some less experienced runners going off too quickly and then paying the penalty later on. Harry worked hard to pick off tiring runners over the second lap, by the end of which he had managed to get into the top 20 and was in a good position to attack the runners ahead of him. Monty, meanwhile, had put in a huge spurt in the second half of the second lap to get himself into the top ten. Further back, Lucas had realised that he had plenty left in the legs and was working his way through the field, chasing Cameron and Henry who’d been struggling in around 30th.
The final lap was astonishingly quick from Monty, and proved just how much he’s developed as a runner since this time last year. He was still gaining on the leaders by the end of the lap and if the race had been another kilometre long, I’ve no doubt he’d have ended up on the podium. Great cross-country running from him. A little further back, Harry was still attacking right the way to the end and managed to pip someone right on the line to take 13th – a cracking effort from a Third Former against many runners a year older than him.
Cameron struggled through a niggle in his shoulder to battle at the line with a sprinting Lucas, who had maybe left a little too much in the tank – Lucas just squeezed it and took 30th position. Not much further back were Henry (33rd) and James (35th). A team total of 80 points was a little too much to take us through to the next round, but there were plenty of positives on display here for the year ahead. A great team effort from the young team.