Shrewsbury School

RSSH: Spring Relays

Friday 9 March 2018

On Wednesday 6th March, the Royal Shrewsbury School Hunt hosted the annual Spring Relays in the glorious setting of Attingham Park, the fourth time the long-standing race has been staged at this venue.

This year we welcomed two new schools to the event, Sedbergh and St Anselm’s, both schools of real running pedigree.  Alongside regular attendees Wrekin College, Haberdashers’ Adams, Bromsgrove, Sir Thomas Rich’s and of course ourselves, we were all set for a great afternoon of good quality racing.

A brief shower around lunchtime threatened to make things a little tricky. But thankfully the clouds soon parted and we were treated to near-perfect running conditions, with a light breeze and spells of sunshine.

In the Girls’ race, Alessandra Ardissino (M) got us off to a strong start, completing the 2.1km course in 8.31, placing us 3rd out of seven teams, behind Bromsgrove and Wrekin College.

Our B team also fared well, with Anna Cowan (MSH) only a few seconds behind fourth-placed Sedbergh, as she passed the baton to Livy Elliot (EDH), while the A team second leg was run by Huntswoman Immie Evans (G), in what will almost certainly be her last race in a Hunt vest. She also ran quickly, in 8:30, and had overtaken Bromsgrove, with only Wrekin ahead of us by about 20 seconds. She handed to Sophia Dixon (MSH) who worked hard to defend against a strong Bromsgrove runner, eventually succumbing but managing to hold off Sedbergh, who were pressing hard.

Meanwhile, Livy Elliot had put in a strong time in the second leg to secure 5th position, a good margin ahead of the Sedbergh B team and Haberdashers’ Adams, and handed over to fellow Third Former Flora Kanan (EDH), who ran well but had little to do, with fourth-placed Sedbergh A well ahead and sixth-placed Sedbergh B too far behind to threaten.

In the A team, Sophia completed her lap in 8:50 and handed over to Chessie Harris (EDH), who had to make up the five-second gap between us and Bromsgrove. She did this admirably, running the fastest time of the day (7.34) and keeping up the pressure on eventual winners Wrekin, who in the end were just too far in front for Chessie to catch, winning by about 25 seconds.

Our B team held on to 5th, thanks to a good run from Felicity Hayward (EDH), with Sedbergh B and Adams taking the last two positions.

In the Junior Boys’ race, Oscar Hamilton-Russell led the line for RSSH, alongside Will Unsworth (S) for the B team. Oscar ran his guts out to keep up with an exceptional first leg from St Anselm’s (which would eventually prove to be the fastest junior lap of the race, in 6:55). He came through just a few seconds behind in 7:02, handing over to Tim Clarkson Webb (O), who had proved at Harrow on Sunday that he is coming into some good form at the moment. His time of 7.47 meant that we had taken the lead by the end of the second leg, and he passed the baton to Third Former Harrison Cutler (R).

In the B team, Will Unsworth had found himself at the back of the race, but kept his speed up to keep the team in contention with the others. He handed over to Charlie Huntley (R), in his first relay race for Shrewsbury School. Charlie’s time exactly matched Will’s, and that left us just six seconds behind the Haberdashers’ Adams team, giving Will Owen (Ch) something to chase down for the third leg.

In the A team, Harrison set off at an electric pace, and though he probably misjudged this slightly as he was struggling towards the finish, he still ran exceptionally quickly (7.21), meaning we had stretched our lead at the front to nearly 30 seconds ahead of St Anselm’s, with Wrekin College another 20 seconds or so further back.

Johnny Price (I) took the fourth leg, and showed the improvement he’s made this season by running a 7.56, stretching out our lead to over a minute. Ed Forde-Johnston (O) ran the fifth leg, making it three Third Formers in a row, managing a time of 7.50, before handing over to Tom Jackson for the final stint. He has recovered gradually from the glandular fever that affected him at the end of the Michaelmas Term, and though he had a setback the previous week by rolling his ankle, he was still able to set one of the fastest times for the day with his leg of 7.14, and claim victory for the Hunt by a margin of just over a minute.

The B team, meanwhile, managed to hold on to 5th, with strong running in legs four, five and six by Sam Williams (SH), Cosmo Waddell (Ch) and Huw Hacket-Pain (SH).

In the Senior Boys’ race, our A team was led in the first leg by Ali Harris (R), who struggled to keep up with some exceptionally fast running from both St Anselm’s and Adams, whose opening efforts marked the fastest two times of the day overall in 6.31 and 6.33. Sedbergh and Sir Thomas Rich’s also started very well, leaving Shrewsbury in 5th at the end of the first leg. Still, Ali’s time of 7.05 was still quick, and kept us well in contention as he handed the baton to fellow member of the Upper Sixth, Will Sawyer (PH).

Our Senior B team was led out by Will Manley (PH), running 7.47. Will Sawyer managed to overtake Sir Thomas Rich’s and with his time of 7.21, bring us to within a second of Adams as he passed over to Tom Hughes (Ch). Tom went even quicker with a time of 7.16, overtaking Adams and establishing a lead over them of nearly 50 seconds by the end of the leg, at which point we were just ten seconds behind Sedbergh in 2nd, while St Anselm’s appeared unstoppable 30 seconds further up the course.

Our B team had Henri Cramsie (SH) and Will Holcroft (Rt) in legs two and three, and the fast, flat nature of this course probably didn’t really suit them, but they persevered admirably and kept the team within sight of Bromsgrove, though the gap was considerable.

In the fourth leg, the A team had Rider Hartley (Ch) taking the baton, and he set off very strongly in pursuit of Sedbergh. However, he couldn’t quite match the pace of the Sedbergh runner and fell back a little, eventually running a time of 7.44, to hand over to fellow fifth-former and Churchillian, Jonny Snell. Jonny had rather a lonely race, as he was about 45 seconds behind Sedbergh, and over a minute ahead of 4th-placed Adams, yet his time of 7.48 shows he’s made considerable progress in the last few weeks.

He passed on to Charlie Ockleston (O) for the last leg, who though he knew the pair ahead of him were probably uncatchable, still set off at a very quick pace. At the front, Sedbergh had managed to overtake St Anselm’s in dramatic style in the fifth leg, and the two teams were just five seconds apart at the start of the sixth. After an excellent effort from the St Anselm’s runner in 6.44 (the third-fastest time of the day), they managed to take the trophy, 14 seconds ahead of the valiant Sedbergh runner, who had given everything he had to hold St Anselm’s off.

Charlie, for his part, had quietly run a 6.48, the fourth-fastest run of the day which, considering he had no one around him, is impressive indeed!

Our B team managed to claim one scalp in the final leg by overtaking Bromsgrove to take 6th, with strong runs from Will Cowper (Rb), Milo Herbert (R) and Fingal Dickins (R).

It was a lovely afternoon out, and we had great fun hosting such a keenly fought competition. Congratulations to Wrekin College for their Girls’ win, to St Anselm’s for their win in the Senior Boys, and of course to the RSSH for taking the Junior Boys’ title.

Mr Haworth, Teacher in Charge of the Hunt

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