A closely-fought battle in the first race of the day, U15 House, saw Third Form Race winner Harry Remnant of Churchill’s take on the early pace, clearly not daunted by being chased by older runners in the Fourth Form, principle amongst them being Owen Mock from Rigg’s Hall, who in fact had won the Third Form Race himself the year before. Both Remnant and Mock had placed highly in the annual Tucks race; Mock came home in an outstanding 12th position over the 5.5km course, with Remnant just nine seconds behind in 15th position. However, over the shorter 2km junior Paperchases course, Remnant’s pace proved too much for Mock who had to settle for 2nd place on the podium following an outstanding run from the increasingly promising young Churchillian.
There was consolation in the form of a team victory for Rigg’s Hall for the third year running, helped by an excellent third-place finish for Third Former Henry Ludlam and an impressive fifth place for Artem Stopnevich, normally to be found in a boat!
In the girls’ race, Fourth Former Immie Evans from The Grove was pushed hard by Third Former Sophia Dixon (MSH), and both girls have been in impressive form during the course of the term. Five seconds separated them this time, with Evans coming home for the ‘kill’ and Libby Hedges of The Grove completing the podium, an exact replica of the top three junior girls' positions in the Tucks. With two Groveites on the podium and six out of the top 10 coming from the House, it came as a surprise that they did not take the team trophy. However, it transpired that they weren’t able to get through six ‘counters’, though the ‘B’ team weren’t too far off the pace, scoring 100 points overall, not far behind EDH’s 92 points in 2nd. MSH took the team trophy though with 68 points, demonstrating that every runner counts!
In the senior event, as with the juniors, the boys and girls set off together, though the boys would be tackling a longer and tougher 5.5km undulating course with the girls taking a welcome right-turn at Paddy’s Cottage for the final sprint along Ashton Road and down Central to the finish line. Their race was over within a flash, therefore, though Tucks winner Tatty Watt had her work cut out with fellow Lower Sixth Former Olivia Papaioannou keeping hard on her shoulder throughout the race. The pair battled hard and looked set for a nail-biting sprint finish only to be mis-directed down Cannonbury Hill by the marshal. Sally Joyce took her opportunity and having trailed the lead pair for the majority of the race, was now in pole position with a matter of half a kilometre to go. However, Watt and Papaioannou were not going to give up easily and having put in the hard work, they pushed the pace up a further notch and managed to reel Joyce in. By the end of the race, Watt made it a Tucks/Paperchase ‘double’ just three seconds ahead of Papaioannou, with Joyce four seconds behind that. A very exciting race, and one where The Grove were able to assert their dominance with an overall team win.
The boys' race was equally exciting, with Oscar Dickins of Rigg’s Hall taking the pace on in the early stages, aided by fellow Riggite Will Hayward. The Rigg’s duo were chased, however, by Severn Hill’s top duo - Huntsman Theo Clarke and Tucks winner Charlie Tait-Harris - and the latter pairing looked extremely comfortable over the first few kilometres and seemed to be biding their time before asserting their authority on the race. By the time the runners were passing behind the School Boat House, it was the Severn Hill duo in the ascendency, though Dickins was not giving up and fought hard through the sapping mud and mire behind Pengwern. An individual bronze would be his reward, with Hayward slipping back to 6th in the end, but nevertheless an excellent performance from a Fifth Former against a field of largely Sixth Formers. The ever-improving Charlie Rogers was just outside of the medals in 4th, with some superb packing from fellow Radbrook runners Hedges, McLure and Lloyd-Jones also in the top ten. It was also good to see last year’s Paperchases winner Ben Remnant back up and running following a period of injury, and he can be pleased with a 5th place given the fallow Michaelmas term.
At the front end, the anticipated sprint for the line never materialised, with the Severn Hill duo opting to cross together in a spirit of camaraderie and sportsmanship to take the joint ‘kill’ - something of a rarity, I would speculate! In the team stakes, having taken the 2nd House trophy, Rigg’s Hall came close to a clean sweep of three trophies. only to be thwarted by a strong performance from Severn Hill and an injury suffered in the race to one of their key runners. Tucks team winners Churchill’s completed what has become in recent years a familiar podium. Radbrook, however, appear to be the team to watch out for, and their runners-up spot in 2nd House (and 4th in 1st House, just 6 points behind Churchill’s) suggests they can be a force in future years to break through the dominance of the three big running houses. Fortunes ebb and they flow!
For individual and team results, please see RSSH Paperchases 2014