The first Hunt fixture of the year is the annual Manchester Relays, a stiff early test on a flat and fast course against some of the top cross-country schools in the country, including the 'heavyweights' Manchester Grammar, West Hill, and Lancaster Grammar.
At this year's annual Manchester Relays, the Hunt were able to select five strong squads at Senior, Inter, and Junior level. Our Senior quartet of George and Ed Mallett, Tom Cousins, and new entrant Seb Blake got the squad off to a decent start with a third place behind Lancaster Grammar and Manchester Grammar. We would normally have expected to be more up in the mix here, but a difficult opening leg meant we were always going to struggle, despite Seb Blake pushing us into the lead during his second leg effort.
In the Inters, the quartet of Rory Fraser, Otto Clarke, Freddie Hill and Henry Young went one better, with a runner-up spot behind Lancaster Grammar. However, it was in the last race of the day that the Hunt really shone, with our newest runners in the 3rd Form putting on the RSSH vest for the first time. Ben Remnant (second placed in the New Boys' Race) ran a strong first leg, though was unable to even come close to the lead runner (not surprising, since the athlete is one of the UK's top athletes at this level). Step up Oscar Dickins (who the previous week had smashed the New Boys' record), who not only reeled in first place (despite a gap of over 200m), but pushed on to establish a 50m lead of our own. Oli Pope of Port Hill did his job perfectly, ensuring that we were still in contention going into the final lap, and as he handed over to fellow Port Hill athlete Tom Sykes, whilst the lead had exchanged hands, the gap looked attainable. Sykes ran in typical gutsy fashion, and with each step seemed to be closing on the lead. With 600m to go, he stepped up the pace and took the lead off Manchester Grammar, and we crossed the line comfortable winners.
This is the first time the Hunt have won this trophy, or indeed any trophy at the Manchester Relays, so it was a very positive start to the season, one that promises more success to come.