English Schools Cross Country Championships

Despite the shutdown of sporting events around the world, about 2000 teenage runners raced at the English Schools XC Finals recently.  Prior to the current measures in the battle against ‘Covid-19’ being in place, the ‘New Balance’ sponsored event at Sefton Park, Liverpool welcomed  County teams from every corner of England to compete;  official advice from organisers was to “bring soap or hand sanitiser to wash their hands in the toilets on the site”.  As it turned out, the ground was so muddy they needed plenty of soap for their legs too!

A selection of photos can be found HERE

Likewise, some videos are available HERE (credit: Mark Hookway)

The journey to the finals began last October when schools competed at their local town championships.  From there, qualifiers progressed to their County Championships where, if you remember, the Durham race was cancelled due to the course being waterlogged.  The Durham team for the Inter-Counties ended up being one of the biggest on record as all nominees were selected to run. Finally,  County teams were selected for today’s ultimate event which, of course, included several of our Juniors running for the Durham and Cleveland teams. 

Junior Boys

It was fantastic to see four of our Junior Harriers running in this category, with two of them still in their first year!  Like all the races today it was a crowded start with a massive field of 334 athletes. 

Rounding off an outstanding season, and the first of our boys home was Alex Boyer;  he completed the course as the 2nd counter for Durham, crossing the line in 136th place in an excellent time of 16:16.  Durham’s 4th counter was James Wilcock.  He’s had a season full of strong performances and he managed to produce another one today finishing in 185th place in 16:31.  Just a few seconds behind James was Harrier team mate, Dylan Wilson.  As always, he gave it maximum effort finishing as Durham’s 5th counter in 200th place with another great time of 16:36.  It was tremendous to see all three boys scoring points for Durham who finished 26th in the team event.    And running for Cleveland today was Harry Lyons who, along with Alex, was the second of our year one athletes.  It was another strong run from Harry, finishing 2nd for  his County in 256th place in a time of 17:02.  A fantastic effort from all four boys; well done lads!

Top cross country action from our Junior Boys:
Top, Alex (L), Dylan (R) Bottom, James (L), Harry (R)

Junior Girls 

The only Junior Harrier in this category was Libby Hammond, a proud member of the Cleveland team.  It was a typically gutsy performance from Libby and although she finished near the back of the field, what we’ve got to bare in mind is that she’s a very young  year one athlete so some of the competition will have been nearly two years older!  It was a great effort, nonetheless finishing 340th place in a time of 14:06. 

Well done Libby, a valuable experience that will put you in good stead for next year!

A Proper Mud Run:
L-R:  Libby, John and Adam

Inter Boys

A tale of two brothers, yes of course , it was Adam and John Russell running for Durham.  A tough race with some quality athletes and a total of 331 athletes lined up at the start.   The boys battled hard and as usual there wasn’t much between the two of them.  John was the 2nd counter for Durham after another strong performance;  he finished 45th overall in a time of 19:24.  Just 11 seconds later and Adam crossed the line as Durham’s 3rd counter, finishing in 57th place in 19:35.  A fantastic effort from the twins which helped Durham Inter Boys take an amazing 4th place in the team event.  Nice one lads, well done!

Inter Girls

Two more of our junior girls wore the purple vest of Durham for the Inter Girls;  Marissa Boon and Mia Wetherill

Both girls have had a terrific season with Marissa topping the NYSD U15 leader board and Mia lying in 3rd place.  Today was a different ball game however, up against some of the country’s best, but the girls gave it 100% as usual and no one could’ve asked for more!  Marissa finished the race as Durham’s 4th counter,  87th overall in a time of 13:50.  Mia finished  263rd out of another huge field of 335 athletes in an excellent 15:04.  The Durham girls finished an impressive 7th out of 42 in the team event.  A fantastic effort from our two girls, well done!

More Action For Durham:  
L-R,  Marissa, Mia and Dan

Senior Boys

It was great to see our other member of the Boyer family at the finals as well.  Daniel Boyer was the only DHAC athlete in the Senior Boys category, and it was going to be a tough old ride for Dan, this being his first year at the age group.  But typically he battled hard against the other 323 athletes and did really well to finish as Durham’s 3rd counter, 148th place overall, crossing the finish line in 23:36.  He helped the Durham boys finish in 24th place out of 42 in the team event.  Another tremendous performance, Dan, well done!

Senior Girls

We just had the one Darlington Harrier competing in the Senior Girl category.  We haven’t seen much of Ellie Phillips this season so it was fantastic to see her back again at another English Schools Final.  She’s certainly been one of our most accomplished young athletes and has made it to several ESAA finals over the years.  Once again she put in a fabulous effort, finishing in 211th place in a time of 19:58.  As Durham’s 5th counter, she helped the girls take 21st place in the team event.  Great stuff, Ellie, well done!

Right:  Ellie Phillips, still
looking as strong as ever �䛼ߪ8�

Unfortunately, our Senior Girl Champion from last year, India Pentland, was unable to compete.  As you probably know, last year was plagued with long term illness for India, so she was out of action for months.  Then, having got over the illness, injury struck;  lady luck was definitely not on her side.  Subsequently, building up her fitness levels to where they needed to be to retain her ES title was going to be virtually impossible.  In the end, India decided along with her coach, it was probably best not to compete.  Up until recently, she’s been looking forward to the T&F season starting, but who knows when that might be now?  Never mind, India, we look forward to seeing you compete again soon – at this rate, it might be the cross country season again! 

Last year’s champ, India Pentland

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