Having trained hard over the Summer and the first few weeks of term, the team (consisting of 12 boys, two girls and two members of staff) were raring to go at the start line. This race had another significance for those travelling over Exeat, however: they have been gathering sponsorship funds in advance of this race to raise money for the Restart Centre, an orphanage in Kenya which we will be visiting during the trip. With everyone having been set the target of raising at least £50 (and some having managed considerably more than that), there was a lot riding on this one!
There was a higher turn-out than expected this year, and as we were entering on the day the race was reaching its limit of 450 participants. This meant a greater level of competition for our runners and thus, it was to be hoped, faster times (especially because the weather conditions - cool, with not a breath of wind - suited us perfectly). We were not to be disappointed.
A very quick pace was set by the leading pack of runners, and a few of the Hunt, beginning the race mainly as a pack, were dragged along a little too quickly in the opening stages and may have paid for it in the last couple of kilometres. Nevertheless, as the course wound its way around the town and over the promised 'seven bridges', the team settled into its natural race pace and tried to hang on. Around the 3k mark, Huntsman Rory Fraser and 4th former Freddie Huxley-Fielding could be seen around the 10th-place mark and fighting it out for dominance. Slightly further back but still very much in the mix were Will Hayward, Ben Remnant and Oscar Dickins, with Theo Clarke, Charlie Godman and Charlie Rogers not far behind them.
With lots of twists and turns (as well as a few steps, some off-road and a couple of hills) this wasn't a course with 'Personal Best' written all over it. Indeed, the winning time of 33.29, by Paul Ward of Wrekin Road Runners, was quite modest for a man with a PB of under 30 minutes. Nevetheless, this was most of the team's first attempt at the 10k so for them, as long as they finished, a PB was guaranteed!
Given the difficult nature of the course, the times of some of our runners are truly astonishing and very encouraging indeed for the season ahead. After Mr Haworth came home in third, Freddie Huxley-Fielding (pictured right) finished in a fantastic 7th position, with an even more impressive time of 36:47. To come 7th out of around 400 (mostly adult) competitors is a mark of just how talented this youngster is.
Next to finish among the team was Ben Remnant of the Fifth Form, in 37:45, finishing 9th. This indicates a huge step up from him over the last few months, and he will be eyeing a top-5 position in the Tuck's race in October with confidence. Not far behind was his erstwhile rival, fellow Fifth Former Oscar Dickins in 11th place with 37:57. Rory Fraser was disappointed not to have had one of his better races and faded towards the end, to finish in 15th in a time of 38:43, some distance off what he's capable of (though still pretty quick!). Only a few seconds behind were Theo Clarke (showing real signs of form recently) and Charlie Godman, who took places 16 and 17 respectively, both finishing in under 39 minutes. Will Hayward, another Fourth Former, had a difficult race, suffering from a severe nose bleed halfway round, but still managed to finish in 39:55, a terrific achievement.
Sean Swayer and Charlie Davis excited the crowd with a sprint finish to the line, narrowly won by Sean, with Charlie Rogers only a few seconds behind them. Tory Mobley in the Lower Sixth was just another 100 metres or so behind this group, and finished in 42.01, finishing 35th and as second fastest woman - a fantastic result, but hopefully just the start of what she achieves over the next couple of years! Miss Rule put in a great run to finish 37th (and 3rd female) in 42.24, while Lucie Cornwell-Lee, captain of girls' running at Shrewsbury, had a terrific run, finishing 62nd in 45:29.
This was a great effort by all our runners and a really enjoyable event. We hope to have raised several hundred pounds for the Restart Centre, which we're really looking forward to visiting. Well done to all the finishers of what was a tough but very enjoyable race.