It was a great shame that due to the pandemic one of the biggest events of the school’s cross-country calendar, the King Henry VIII Relays in Coventry, had to be cancelled this year, alongside so many other fixtures. Thankfully the organisers of this race were determined to put on some form of competition and devised a race held ‘in remote’, in which schools would send their teams round a local Park Run 5km route and post their times, with different courses given a weighting according to difficulty.
On Tuesday, May 4th we took our runners across the Severn to the Quarry to complete our entry in conditions that looked rather daunting, with heavy rain and hail showers having hit over the course of the morning and early afternoon. By the time we lined up on the start line these had abated and the sun had come out.
It was difficult for the pack to determine their best pace around an unfamiliar course and in a time of year when – while not exactly unfit – they were some way off mid-season form, and without much in the way of recent competition to give them a benchmark to work from. Will S (R, V) set a very strong early pace, with Harrison C (R, LVI) in hot pursuit alongside Jonny P (I, LVI), and Oscar H-R (R, UVI) hanging on gamely despite having twisted an ankle the previous Friday. Unfortunately two of our runners, Brad and Sam, both picked up injuries mid-race and were forced to retire, but we had enough strength in depth that this wasn’t as disastrous as it might have been.
Sophia U (EDH, V) made an excellent start for the girls, keeping up with a good pack of B team boys, and looking strong at the halfway point. Behind her, Sophia C (MSH, III) showed that she remains in good form despite the lack of competition as she stretched away from a pack of three girls, Hattie A (G, IV), Eva H (G, V) and Martha S (M, LVI) further back, helping each other to keep a steady pace.
In the second half of the race, Will pulled away from the pack, showing real mastery over this distance, and looked comfortable as he crossed the line in a hugely impressive 16:44. Considering the course, which includes two significant inclines and a few sharp twists and turns, this really is a remarkable time. Harrison (17:30) managed to pull away from Jonny (17:34) enough to protect himself from a late surge from Jonny, whose 200m and 400m prowess means he’s got a very dangerous kick. Oscar (17:37) was not far behind, protecting his ankle, with Jack K (PH, III) posting a very strong time of 17:49. Hamish G (PH, IV), concentrating on his tennis this term, was still able to get round in 18:05, showing he’s retained plenty of fitness over the last few weeks. Arthur B (R, UVI) headed up the B team with 18:21, followed by Will O (Ch, UVI) in 18:38, Archie T (Rt, IV) in 18:45, Tim S (I, IV) in 19:23, John B (Ch, LVI) in 19:45 and Cosmo W (Ch, UVI) in 20:17.
Sophia U managed to finish as strongly as she started, posting a blistering 19:31, ahead of Sophia C (23:12), Hattie (24:27) and Eva (25:32), with Martha finishing in 25:57.
It was lovely to be able to get out for some competition, albeit in rather strange circumstances, and we’re very grateful to the KHVIII organisers for going ahead with this modified race. We await the final results to see where we placed nationally.
Master In Charge of The Hunt