Conditions looked rather dicey on the morning of the annual Third Form Race, with heavy downpours threatening to make the event something of a wash-out. However, by the time the teams were gathering nervously around the Darwin Statue a little after 2pm, the sun had made its appearance and was reflecting gloriously off the many puddles that adorned the School site. Extra caution was going to be needed down Oldham’s Gap, which had become rather treacherously slippery, but otherwise we were all set for a cracking race.
Little was known about the form of this year group. In previous races, we have had a few names already on the books as having expressed an interest or talent for running, but in this case I was looking ahead with excitement at the prospect of a fresh chapter in the Hunt’s long history.
After a short introduction to the Hunt from me and a little warm-up lap around Central, around 125 Third Formers lined up in their House groups at the start line, ready for the famous cry from our new Huntsman, Monty Hardcastle of Ingram’s Hall: “All hounds who wish to run – run hard, run well, and may the Devil take the hindmost!” With a quick toot of the ancient bugle they were off, charging across Central towards Moss Gates to begin their 1.5-mile race.
As ever, the initial pace was very brisk, but as they rounded Top Common the pack had settled into something a little more manageable, and most places towards the front were largely decided by the time they descended Oldham’s Gap for the lower leg of the race.
A few short minutes later, as they appeared around the front of Chapel for the final sprint finish, it was another win for a Riggite (Rigg's have managed four boys’ wins in the past six years), with Seb Price claiming the gold medal in a time of 8:34. He was closely followed by Jonathan Price (Ingram's) – no relation – taking second in 8:36. The bronze medal was won by Henry Lees of Radbrook in 8:43. The depth of quality was impressive, with five boys managing to claim a sub-9-minute time. Last year was the first time this feat was achieved, so to see it equalled the following year is very exciting and suggests real potential among this cohort.
In the girls’ race, we didn’t quite have anyone stealing the headlines in the way Francesca Harris did last year (finishing just behind the boys’ winner), but there were nevertheless some strong performances. The gold medal went to Livy Elliott (EDH) in a time of 10:20, with Flora Kanan (EDH) taking second just four seconds further back. Third place went to Nell Ware of MSH in 10:35. This is the largest cohort of girls we’ve ever had in the Third Form Race, and it was great to see so many compete – now spread among four girls’ houses!
The House competition threw up some interesting results this year. Port Hill managed to claim the overall gold medals, with 107 points, despite only having one runner in the top ten. This is because they managed to pack their counters in well inside the top 25, whereas Rigg’s (who claimed second overall and had individuals taking 1st and 4th) struggled to get their last counters in under 50. Radbrook took third place, with two runners inside the top ten.
Among the girls, now that four Houses were competing, unfortunately one would miss out on a medal. Sadly this was the newest of the girls’ Houses, Moser’s; perhaps they were saving their energies for the river! First place was won by Emma Darwin Hall, hugely helped by their 1st and 2nd places individually. Second place was very close, with The Grove just shading ahead of Mary Sidney by two points.
It was great to see the House spirit in action during the race, and all runners appeared to approach the race in a very positive way. It looks like this year group has the potential to forge a very bright future for the Hunt! Huge congratulations to all the finishers.
Teacher i/c The Hunt