Last Friday, the Intermediate Boys cross country team travelled to Bedford with Mr. Austin for the English Schools’ Cross Country Cup National Final at Beauchamp Middle School. This is the premier schools team cross country event of the year. After a long journey, a hearty meal and an overnight stay at a local hotel, Finn, Harris, Elliot, Alexander and Ben awoke in confident mood having beaten the reigning champions, Reading Bluecoats School, when winning the south west regional final last month.
On arrival at the school, they realised it would be a challenging day: the high winds of storm Desmond, two laps of a hilly and partly muddy 4.5km parkland course, and 140 runners from the best 24 teams in the country. But this is what they have trained for over the last three years with coach, Mr Knowles, and they didn’t disappoint.
In a fast uphill start into the wind, Finn and Harris secured places in the leading group with the others close behind. As the race developed, the field started the spread out and after a kilometre a group of ten, including Finn and Harris, broke away whilst Alexander was well placed in the following group. By the start of the second lap, Finn and Harris were leading a group of six and with 800m to go the group was now four. It was then that Finn and Harris made their move and pulled away. So there they were – two Truro School boys, out on their own ahead of a quality field, battling it out for the national individual cross country title! In the end it was Finn who won, a superb achievement to add to his Junior Boys title he won two years ago. It is notable that a certain Mo Farah also won this event in 1997! Harris, a year younger, came in a fantastic second, close on Finn’s heels, to add to his third place in the Junior Boys final last year. It is a rare occurrence for a single school to capture a one-two in the National Final.
But the race was not over. Alexander had been working his way up the top 20 throughout the race and finished strongly in 13th, another terrific run given the quality of the opposition. Not far behind, Elliot and Ben had been battling away in the main group of runners, and it was Elliot coming in 65th who was the school’s final scorer and both he and Ben gave everything they had.
In most years, our team score of 81 points would have been enough to win the national team title but we were just pipped to the line by St Anselm’s School, Merseyside (73 points) with Sevenoaks School, Kent (120 points) in third place. Despite not winning, coming second and beating many established cross country schools in the final, is a remarkable achievement and the boys did themselves and the school proud. This has been a great season for the team so far, following up on the County Under 15 team title they won at Newquay last month. Well done boys!