Heavy rain greeted the various teams as they arrived on the site to register, but as the race developed, the rain dried up and we were even treated to some patches of sun and the odd rainbow. This relay event has been hotly contested in recent years, and the setting of Attingham Park provides a stunning backdrop to an exciting race.
Shrewsbury felt they had a strong chance of success, particularly among the boys, who recently set the School’s fastest-ever time round the King Henry VIII Relays course in Coventry, placing 4th overall. S. Anselm’s and Haberdashers’ Adams both provided stiff competition that day and were present to have another go at us this week. The girls knew that Wrekin College would set a very high standard, having impressed at the County Championships in early February.
In the Junior Boys’ race, the Shrewsbury A team got away very well, with Harrison Cutler (R) setting off in fine style, running 7:09 and building a gap round the 2.1km course of about 20 seconds ahead of S. Anselm’s at the change-over. Bromsgrove School were in third, ahead of Shrewsbury’s B team, led by Cyrus Cropper (Ch).
Our A team’s second leg was run by Jonny Price (I), whose lap of 7:20 indicates how far he has developed as a runner this term, and in truth by this point the race was almost beyond the other teams, after S. Anselm’s dropped back to over a minute behind.
Our B team’s second leg was run by Joe Rooney-McGee (R), who really had the bit between his teeth as he set off past the Mansion. He is another who has made real progress this season, and his time of 8:13 was very close to our A team runners’ times, meaning he had made significant ground on Bromsgrove. He handed over to George Collings, who ran 9:05.
Our A team third leg was run by Charlie Huntley (PH) in 8:12, solidly maintaining our gap ahead of the other teams, before Archie Collings (Rb) took over, who somehow managed to go the wrong way, but who nevertheless still managed to post a very respectable time of 8:11 and stretch the Shrewsbury lead. He passed the baton to Will Singleton (R), a lad who is in exceptional form at the moment, having won the Midlands League race at Wellingborough on Saturday. His was in fact the fastest time of the whole Junior Boys’ race, posting a blistering 7:04, leaving the last-leg runner Ben Weston (R) little to do – he could have won the race at a canter, but still ran strongly to post 7:31 and take the gold medal for Shrewsbury A.
S. Anselm’s came through strongly in second, with two good times from their 5th and 6th leg runners, while Bromsgrove took third. Our B team ran valiantly to place 4th out of 4, with Will Yao (I) running 9:16, Damian Jelev (R) running 9:27 and Arthur Hope Barton (I) crossing the line in 9:06.
In the girls’ race, Lillian Wilcox (EDH) led our A team out well with a time of 8:29, placing us third at the hand-over behind Wrekin College A team and Bromsgrove, but very much in contention for second. Wrekin College had fielded their best runner in this first leg, and her time of 7:34 meant their gap was considerable and one that was never really challenged over the race.
Lillian passed the baton to Alessandra Ardissino (M), who ran strongly to post a time of 8:42 and take second place in the process. The third leg was run by Sophia Dixon (MSH), who had a Bromsgrove runner not far behind her the whole way, but she held her nerve and extended our lead over them by about ten seconds, running 9:06, before handing over to Francesca Harris, who stormed off in the hope of making up the deficit to Wrekin. This she did admirably, eating 40 seconds into the lead, but the gap was too much for her and Wrekin took the trophy by a lead of nearly 50 seconds.
Shrewsbury’s B team placed 5th, with good runs from Anna Cowan (MSH) running 9:05, Felicity Hayward (EDH) in 9:35, Sophia Bureau (G) managing 10.13 and Morgan Smith (MSH) crossing the line in 11.44.
With these two races over, it was the turn of the Senior boys, in which we were able to field three teams (just about). Our A team was led out by Paddy Barlow, whose gritty determination came in very handy in a battle with S. Anselm’s opening-leg runner, with the latter crossing the line first in an impressive 7:05. Paddy managed 7:19 as he handed over to Rider Hartley, with Bromsgrove and Shrewsbury B (a great effort from Ingramite Max Green running 7:31) hot on his heels. Rider managed to make up time with the leader, and at the hand-over the gap was less than ten seconds.
Shrewsbury B’s second-leg runner was Matthew Thevathasan (PH) who ran strongly for 7:48, which put some distance between us and Bromsgrove. Into the third leg, Oscar Hamilton-Russell very confidently set off in pursuit of the leading runner and worked hard to make up ground. In a thrilling final couple of hundred metres, Oscar battled past him and gave Shrewsbury the lead for the first time in the race, having posted an electric time of 6:51.
He handed over to Tom Jackson (R), whom this course suited very well, and he enjoyed leading out ahead. Tom extended our lead admirably and in the process set one of the fastest times of the day in 6:45.
Sam Western (S) was up next, who could relax knowing that S. Anselm’s were some distance behind. A fast leg from S. Anselm’s in leg five meant our lead was reduced slightly, but as Charlie Ockleston (O) took the anchor leg he was determined not to let it slip any further. His time of 6:35 was the fastest of the day, and gave Shrewsbury the win.
Our B team managed third place, with excellent runs from Max and Matthew, followed by Ted Williams (R), Jonny Snell (Ch), Artur Sarsenov (SH) and Milo Herbert (R) running 8:11, 7:44, 8:11 and 7:36 respectively.
It was a lovely afternoon of competitive running, and with two winners’ trophies and a team silver to our name, a top performance by the RSSH.
Well done to all competitors, and many thanks to those friends of the Hunt who came to support in such damp conditions!
Teacher in Charge of the Hunt