Cross Country Round Up

It was great to see recent Marling cross country alumnus, Tom Mortimer, help secure a Silver medal with a brilliant 14th place finish in the European Cross Country Championships in Dublin. If you missed it, you can still find the race on the BBC iplayer. Tom is the latest in the long line of international runners to come through Marling School and, after a hiatus caused by COVID, that production line is back. There’s a large turn out every week for running club on a Wednesday after school and it’s never too late to join. It’s open to all ages and abilities and will be back once the days are long enough again in mid-January.

Competitive racing started up again with the traditional district cross country competitions at the start of this year. The racing in Term 2 focussed on the English Schools Athletics Association Cross Country Cup. In November, both Junior (Year 7 and Year 8) and Inter boys (Year 9 and Year 10) teams won their regional Finals at Bromsgrove School. The Inter boys did so in commanding fashion. Henry Sheffield (10F) led the way, gliding over the firm ground to 1st place. He was closely followed in by Dominic Martin (9E) in 4th place and Sam Wilson (9G) one place further back. Isaac Boyd (10B) completed the scoring team with an excellent 14th place, a fine achievement for an inexperienced racer in a strong field. The team was completed by Cassius Brown and Ben Batterham who competed hard for every place to help secure victory over a much fancied Shrewsbury School in second spot. A very young Junior boys team produced an unexpected win in their race that bodes very well for the future. It was a brilliant team effort with Oliver Wilson (7G), Luke Sefton (8B), Jack Pennell (7E), Nick Westoby (8G), Archie Gladstone (7C) and Francis Stuart-Menteth (8C) running in a pack to claim places 14th to 18th.

Those performances qualified the teams for the National Finals in Newquay in December. There, the inter boys team were hit by the late withdrawal of Isaac with a football injury (priorities please Isaac!), which may have cost them a place on the podium. They still finished an excellent 7th in the country with Henry a commanding winner of the individual race. The Junior team all ran their hearts out on a very sticky, technical course gaining experience that will stand them in good stead for next year’s competition.

The following day most of the ESAA teams (and several others) were out again for the Individual County finals at Newent. Two races in one weekend definitely told in the legs of some competitors but there were still some notable performances. In the Minor Boys race, Jack Pennell and Oliver Wilson qualified for the county team with 3rd and 8th place finishes, as did Sam Wilson and Dominic Martin who came 1st and 2nd in the Junior boys (Year 8 and 9) category. Henry Sheffield strolled to victory in the Inter Boys. All move on to the Regional finals in early February.