With nearly 400 pupils competing for their House, it has become one of the great mass-participation events in the School, and the competitive House spirit was very much in evidence – not least from the staff!
Conditions were cold but dry, with a stiff breeze – what some might call ‘perfect cross-country weather’. The race is split into two age categories. First up were the U15 House, comprising members of the Third and Fourth Form, over a course of about 2.5km. Rigg’s Hall were aiming to defend their House victory last year, and things were looking good for them at the halfway point, with two runners in the top three. Oscar Hamilton-Russell, who had recently run so well in the ESAA national final, led with a good gap ahead of Orlando Williams (Rt), who also ran well in that race. Just behind him was Harrison Cutler, also of Rigg’s, who was showing what excellent form he’s found over the course of the term. In the girls’ race, Chessy Harris (EDH) looked to have a commanding lead (in fact she was placing fifth among the boys), with Livy Elliott (EDH) a bit further back, ahead of another EDH runner, Flora Kanan, in third.
As they came across the finish line, Oscar had managed to extend his lead a little, but Orlando had dropped back and Harrison timed his finish well to take the silver-medal position. Chessy retained her first place, despite picking up a hamstring injury. Livy and Flora, both Third Formers, came through very strongly and showed that they have developed their fitness very well over the course of this term. They will be very useful runners next term in some of our big races.
In the U15 House competition, Rigg’s managed to retain their winners’ trophy by a convincing margin of 75 points ahead of Churchill’s. Their other counters – Seb Price, George Ludlam, Arthur Bramwell and Luke Russell – all managed to place in the top 30, which was an impressive House achievement. Churchill’s managed to place the highest B team, suggesting good strength in depth. In the girls’ U15 House competition, Emma Darwin expected victory having taken all of the top three places, but The Grove proved to have more strength in depth and won by a very narrow three points. Mary Sidney claimed third, with Moser’s in fourth.
In the Senior race, the girls would set off at the same time as the boys, but would divert away from the senior boys’ course to complete the same distance as the juniors, while the boys would carry on down towards the river to cover the full race distance of 5.6km. The Grove were looking to replicate their convincing win of last year, while Rigg’s were seeking to retain their 1st House trophy in the face of a strong Churchill’s team.
A strong leading pack set the pace in the early stages, made up of this year’s Tucks winner, Harry Remnant (Ch), Sam Western (PH) and Sam Watts (Ch), who had run very well on the Saturday to place first among the RSSH runners in the Old Salopian Race. Rigg’s were without four of their best runners – the two whips, Owen Mock and Niklas Amthor, as well as Fifth formers Tom Jackson and Paddy Barlow – so Churchill’s had a good opportunity to take full advantage. Indeed, Harry and Sam were supported ably by fellow Churchillian Tom Hughes, who was not far behind this leading group.
In the girls’ race, Lillian Wilcox (EDH) came through well to take a convincing win in a time of 10:12, with Huntswoman Immie Evans (G) a little further back in 10:26. Alessandra Ardissino (M) took third place ahead of Sophia Dixon (MSH) in 4th, which meant that all four girls’ Houses had one runner each in the top four. Interestingly, the next four places were taken by one runner from each House as well, suggesting the team race would be closely fought. In the end though, The Grove managed to retain their win with a team total of 60 points, ahead of Mary Sidney Hall (83 points), Emma Darwin (92) and Moser’s (120). The Grove managed to show good pack running by placing all six counters inside the top 20, which was an impressive achievement.
In the second half of the boys’ race, the pack had stretched considerably, and over two minutes separated the top ten runners. Sam Western had managed to pull away from Harry Remnant to take a remarkable win (Sam is still in the Fifth Form) in a time of 20:18 seconds – very quick indeed over this challenging course of 5.6km. Indeed, his time was nearly 15 seconds quicker than the winning time in Saturday’s Old Salopian Race, which had attracted a very high-quality field. Harry came in second in a time of 20:40, while Sam Watts showed very good consistency by running a time of 20:58, just two seconds quicker than his effort in Saturday’s race. Cameron Anwyl (S) placed fourth, ahead of Charlie Ockleston (O), Tom Hughes (Ch) and Ali Harris (R).
The 1st House competition was won convincingly by Churchill’s this year, with a team total of just 66 points, well ahead of their nearest rivals Port Hill with 119. Churchill’s also managed to win the 2nd House competition, showing real depth. Rigg’s struggled without their leading quartet, understandably, and placed ninth. They will expect to be resurgent next year though, and are likely to be able to mount a good challenge on Churchill’s to reclaim the trophy.
This was a very enjoyable afternoon of House competition and sporting achievement, and the efforts put in by the runners – so close to the end of term – was a credit to their character and their House spirit. Well done all!
Ian Haworth, Teacher in Charge of the Hunt