Outside of the two major national events (The Knole Run and the Coventry Relays), MANISCCC is the biggest cross-country race on the schools’ circuit, a championship now in its 53rd year and one that the Hunt look forward to with some relish at this point in the season. This year’s hosts were Sedbergh, seven-times winner of the Seniors event, and we travelled up to Cumbria knowing that they would be setting a very tough, hilly, and technical course. On arrival and following a course inspection, our predictions were certainly accurate, with an extremely challenging 4 mile course set out for the Seniors, and an equally grueling 2.5 miles for the Colts. Both races involved tough climbs, log jumps, water-jumps, and a good number of sheep to be avoided!
In the Colts race, whilst having won the event last year for only the second time and with an individual winner in Rory Fraser, we knew our squad this year would lack the depth to be able to retain the title, though our young side acquitted themselves extremely well, packing intelligently and helping each other in the tough sections of the course. Indeed, at the close of the race, our four counters all came through in a group with John Dempsey heading the Hunt team up in 7th overall, Jake Samuel in 8th, Theo Clarke in 9th, and Tom McHugh in 10th. This was particularly impressive running given that only Samuel and Clarke are regular runners, with Dempsey and McHugh normally to be found on the rugby pitches of Shrewsbury. Our final runner Oli Lansdell placed 22nd, an excellent run for a 3rd former, and he will have gained valuable experience for next year when he remains in the Colts age-group. The boys did extremely well to take 2nd place in the team event with 34 points, well clear of third-placed Wellingborough who were 13 points behind, though we couldn’t do enough to trouble a strong Manchester Grammar outfit who turned in 16 points.
Photos below (top first):
Seb Blake (S) and George Mallett (S) on the hill section
Our senior squad went into their race determined to retain The Nutter Cup having won the trophy last year for the first time since 1999. On the back of what has been a phenomenally successful season, we were determined to win our ninth trophy of the season at MANISCCC, despite tough competition from hosts Sedbergh and Manchester Grammar School, both of whom had placed highly at the National Relays.
After a promising start with some good hard running out of the pens, disaster struck when Huntsman George Mallett fell on one of the early downhills, tearing his knee open and losing valuable ground. Indeed, having been amongst the lead pack, he suddenly found himself in the mid-20s and behind all our other runners. However, in typically determined fashion, Mallett picked himself up and over the course of the next two miles gradually made his way up the positions until, incredibly, in the final lap he had forced his way back up to 5th position overall, where he eventually finished. It was a remarkable effort, though a great shame that he had not been a part of the lead pack as he may well have challenged for the individual title. That challenge was instead taken up by his younger brother Ed, who tracked the move of Manchester Grammar’s Ryan Ganose (who had come home 5 seconds ahead of him at the national Knole run), and moved up through the lead pack until he was chasing the lead runner. However, Ganose managed to extend his lead into the final lap and with a stumble on one of the log jumps, Ed was unable to make any inroads on the lead, coming home nevertheless in an excellent 2nd position. Next year Ed will look to challenge for the individual title, following in the footsteps of Oli Laws, who won in 1998, the only time a Hunt runner has won the individual title.
The Malletts were well-supported as always with a flurry of Hunt vests, with Tom Cousins proving his mettle on this kind of tough course by coming home as our third counter in 8th place, one of his best performances to date for the Hunt, and a measure of his strength as an athlete. Close behind were Seb Blake in 9th and Ed Lloyd in 10th, with our final counter George Nugee in 17th. Otto Clarke’s 18th will have been a disappointment, but it was a tough race for him with his footwear proving problematic over the unrelenting mud of the Sedbergh course. Nevertheless, a team total of 51 points was enough to see off a strong Sedbergh outfit who returned 59 points. A little close for comfort, then, but the team were deserved winners of the trophy, and once again proved the quality of running that is fast-developing amongst the Hunt. Shrewsbury School is very much on the map as far as cross-country running is concerned, and we are proud of the position we now hold as one of the top three schools in the country for the sport, and once again, the leading school in the north.
In the championship’s history, 14 schools have won the Senior championships, with Shrewsbury having won the cup for the sixth time this year. Our aim over the coming years is to move up the leaderboard as far as number of wins, and with our sixth championship win this year, we move just behind Sedbergh’s 7 wins (1986; 1987; 1990; 1991; 2000; 2009; 2010), Bradford Grammar School’s 8 wins (1980; 1982; 1984; 1985; 1996; 1997; 2001; 2004), and Manchester Grammar’s leading 10 wins (1968; 1970; 1971; 1972; 1977; 1978; 1979; 1981; 1983; 2008)
2nd Ed Mallett (S) 27.13
5th George Mallett (S) 28.03
8th Tom Cousins (PH) 28.43
9th Seb Blake (S) 29.09
10th Ed Lloyd (Rt) 29.24
17th George Nugee (G) 30.45
18th Otto Clarke (S) 30.59