Cross Country Internations

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It was back on November 07 when the first round of the schools cross country event began. We were representing the school against the rest of east Devon. Colyton was very successful in it with three wins from Elliot M (Year 13), my brother Johnny (Year 11), and myself. Following this was the east Devon verses Exeter schools event at Blundells, in which Colyton achieved similar success.

However things only began to get serious at the Devon schools championship on January 19, at Stover, where qualification for nationals was up for grabs. I won the junior girls by 24 seconds, and was joined by Iona F of Torbay Grammar school and Amelia R of Mount Kelly on the podium. Johnny finished third, however this achievement is not to be underestimated as the talent of Oliver S (Mount Kelly) and Flynn J (Bideford College) who beat him, later proved that third in Devon is far better than it sounds. Other Colyton qualifiers were Simon D (Year 12) who came sixth and Elliot M (Year 13) who chose not to run but was still put through. Next would have been South West schools held in Bath, but this was cancelled due to snow.

So it was then time for the New Balance English schools championship on March 16 where all the best regional runners travelled up in teams to Temple Newsam to represent their county. It was rough weather and the course was muddy and very hilly. I was running against year 9s as a Year 8 and was extremely happy to get third against girls I really look up to. My main aim had been to get top eight, as was many others’ aims, because it meant selection for SIAB internationals in Dublin the following weekend, which was a huge dream of mine, so to get onto the podium was very unexpected.

Johnny was hoping to do the same, although with his race (inter boys), the top ten qualified as an extra two were chosen to take part in the mixed relay at internationals-a new event. Johnny scraped eight place, meaning the two of us were headed to our first ever internationals. But we weren’t the only Colyton runners to compete at Leeds, with Elliot coming an amazing 18th place in the senior boys and in which also Simon coming 154th, which against the 300 participants is a great achievement.

The pinnacle of all this though was on 23 March, in Santry park, Dublin, after Johnny and I had flown out with the England team in our red and black England tracksuits to compete internationally against Wales, Scotland and Ireland. The best eight runners of each country per race meant that the field was small but incredibly talented.

My race was the first of the day, at midday. After stripping down to England vests and shorts, my team and I were all prepared for the flat and fast 3km race consisting of two laps of the park. The pace was extremely fast, and after one lap I was in fourth, with fellow England runners Holly W (Cheshire) and Kiya D (Gloucestershire) leading the way, and a very tall Katie J of Scotland just in front of me. When the finish was in sight, it seemed I had bagged third and extended 10m on Katie, but with a few meters to go she had caught me and her long stride meant she outsprinted me to the bronze by a mere few centimeters. Despite this being very upsetting at the time, I had come fourth place at internationals and first out of my year, meaning I can claim Year 8 UK cross country title. England took gold in the team event.

In Johnny’s race, it was double the distance-6km, and the speed of the leaders was incredible. Most of the way he was around tenth, but seventh out of England which is progress from the nationals where he qualified eight. He managed to finish an outstanding ninth place and the boys’ England team also won the team event in the inter boys. Oliver S and Flynn J, who I mentioned beat Johnny during the Devon heats, finished third and fourth place here, proving the remarkable standard of Devon as a county.

Overall the experience was amazing and just to have got there was huge for us. The event made for a spectacular end to the cross country season and our focus will now switch to track running for the summer.

Scarlett L, Year 8

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