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Cross Country Schools’ Finals Success

Published Tuesday 18th of January 2022 12:00:00 PM

Race report:

Stand out individual performances on the day were;

Maisey Bellwood with an incredible 2nd place in the Inter Girls race out of 150 runners.
Archie Peaker with a top ten finish in 9th place for the Inter Boys, out of 143 runners.
Strong performances from Harry Bates 65th Inter boys, and James McLarnon 51st and Rafe McCormack 58th out of 148 runners in the Junior Boys.
Team results were:

Inters girls – 16th
Junior boys – 18th
Inters boys – 19th
Junior girls – 27th
Well done to all our four teams with seventeen of our runners making it their debut at the Nationals. Bring on next year!
News from The Grove Publication, written by Miss Hughes (Coach)

The Grove’s cross-country squad made school history this term when all four of our teams qualified for the national final of the English School’s Athletics Association’s Cross-country Cup. The first round took place at GSAL, followed by the regional round in November in Sheffield; the final, however, was much further afield. This year, the squad enjoyed a three-day trip to Newquay, Cornwall.

We trained hard in our Tuesday and Thursday night sessions for the race; William said that “all the hill training we did beforehand really helped with the steep hills in the race”. Then, on Friday 3rd December, the excited squads met at 7:30am to embark upon the nine-hour journey to Newquay. The long journeys did not quell their enthusiasm. George felt that one of the highlights of her trip was “bonding with the other Grove squads and getting to know them better”, and the long coach rides allowed plenty of opportunity for them to do this. We stayed in the Blue Room Surf Lodge, Newquay, and, according to Ollie, our young athletes were “so excited to stay in bunkbed dorm rooms”. On our first night, we had a meal at the Concho Lounge – several of the Junior girls made light work of their steak and chips, with Tife and Cleo agreeing that “the food we had was definitely one of the best parts of the trip!”. Breakfasts and pack lunches were prepared by TV chef and sports nutritionist, Rosie Mansfield.

Our athletes then had an early night to prepare for the race the next day. We were up early on Saturday and, although we were all nervous, we were also very excited. Even a broken-down coach couldn’t dampen our spirits. As this was a national final, the course itself was a challenging one, with steep hills and sharp corners. The first race was the Inters girls, who ran in a rare glimpse of sunshine. Maisey Bellwood went out hard and worked her way up the pack, finishing in an incredible second place. She was followed by her teammates, club captain Eilidh Molly, George Rayner, Gaelle Carrasco, Alyse Warburton and Jenny Ingham. Eilidh reflected on “how great it was to be able to support other squads once we had finished racing”, which shows what a marvelous ethos these young athletes have. Next up there was the Junior boys squad, who raced hard but were also surprised to see how fast the start really was; James McClarnon was our first junior over the finish line, working his way through the pack to end-up in 51st place. He was followed by Rafe McCormack, Simeon Tedd, Ollie Hall, William Thornhill and Henry Shimmin. Simeon said that “the course was really difficult, and we learnt that, next time, we’ll have to push our way through the pack at the very start to get those high positions.”

Next was the Inters boys’ race and, of course, the high winds that had already made running difficult that day were made even more unpleasant by the addition of horizontal hail stones. Archie Peaker, who finished in 9th place, remarked that “the hail stones were the hardest part of the race – they pelted your face and eyes, but we just had to push through it”. The other Inters boys to cross the finish line were Inters captain Harry Bates, Ethan Taylor, Zach Taylor, Ayomide Solaru and Jacob Best. Jacob reflected that “although the course and the weather conditions were really hard, afterwards I felt proud of myself for what I achieved. It was great to have a challenge.” The last race of the day was the Junior girls’ race: Macie Donaldson was followed by, Charley Clark-Taylor, Harriet Williams, Cleo Hainsworth, Tife Solaru and Georgie Cothliff. The conditions under-foot were hard for these girls: five races’ worth of runners had churned the ground up and Georgie commented that “by the time Junior girls raced, the course was slick with mud. Even with 12mm spikes, we had to scramble up the hills”.

Overall, the Inters girls finished in 16th, Junior boys 18th, Inters boys 19th and Junior girls 27th. The celebratory meal at Pizza Express that evening was thoroughly enjoyed by our group of very tired and hungry athletes.

We started our final day, Sunday, with a jog down to the beach just after sunrise. Although it was an early start, the runners were excited to play on the beach, jump in the waves and do a little barefoot jogging on the sand before the long coach ride home. Miss Hughes, Mr. King and Mr. Tedd were so proud of them for reaching the national final and for running so hard on a tough course, battling their way to the finish. This is such a promising set of young athletes – 17 of the 24 making their debut this season. They have a bright future ahead of them in the sport, and we can’t wait to see the next step in their journey.
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