Amongst their number were members of staff and spouses, a handful of pupils, some parents, and one or two old boys. A new course saw the runners tackle a steady climb up Berwick Road for the first few kilometres, before meandering down country lanes then taking the Ellesmere Road into town. By this point in the race, sizeable crowds had gathered in the town centre to cheer on the runners, particularly needed on such a punishingly hot day! Perhaps the greatest support of all, though, came as the runners had completed the tortuous hike up Kennedy Road and turned into Ashton Road and The Schools where we were greeted by the enthusiastic cheers of our colleagues and pupils, accompanied by the African drums beating their own encouragement. A final loop back into town and a return along the river to the showground completed the 21.1km route, and by the finish line, I think everyone was just pleased to have completed the race in the conditions!
Perhaps the most exciting finish of the day (at least from a Salopian perspective) was the battle for 15th position between Theo Clarke (next year's Huntsman) and Adam Booth (Huntsman, 1999-2000). On this particular day, Youth triumphed over Experience, though a lack of a sprint finish from Adam is perhaps understandable given his wife had given birth to their first child just a few weeks previously! Theo crossed the line in 1.26.39, an extremely impressive time for a debut half marathon in those conditions. His predecessor as Huntsman Adam Booth came home in 1.26.57 for 18th, with Senior Whip from season 2011-2012 Tom Cousins not far behind in 1.27.20 for 20th position.
Many of our runners were raising money for local charity The Ark, a centre for homeless and vulnerable people in the town. Last year the team raised over £500 for the charity Medic Malawi, and it is hoped that we will be able to surpass this figure for The Ark.
Congratulations to all who ran in the race, particularly to those who were running in a half marathon for the very first time, including our very own Mrs Kirk who not only completed the race, but crossed the finish line with a big smile on her face! The first of many perhaps...