ACROSS the country in the last fortnight in March elite performers were invited to take part in the English Schools’ Cross-Country Championships.

Unfortunately due to Covid-19 these races had to be virtual, which meant that athletes were running round courses of their own choosing. Some courses would have been flatter, windier and across easier terrain than others which meant that the championships were not to be officially recorded with medals and trophies awarded but were taken extremely seriously by the athletes and were an opportunity to run a competitive event for the first time in over a year.

The Senior Boys team at Ermysted’s Grammar School has been hit harder than most as far as their running is concerned. Last year they were selected to represent England in the World School Cross-Country Championships which should have taken place in Slovakia in April. Unfortunately those Championships were cancelled and the boys lost out on their chance in a lifetime to represent their country However, the boys clearly have not been resting on their laurels as their performance in these championships has shown.

They really wanted to perform well so when the rest of their schoolmates went home for the Easter break they went across to the Steven Burke Sports Hub at Barrowford. This is a custom built cycling facility comprising a flat one kilometre tarmac course next to the Leeds-Liverpool canal.

This gave the runners a good chance of a fast time and in spite of the weather, they took it with open hands.

The boys set off as a group for the first of the 5 laps intending to help each other around the course. On the second lap Joe Carnelley opened a bit of a gap which grew as he had clearly been working hard on his fitness through Lockdown. Three of his team-mates were not far adrift and still pushing each other to fast times.

As they started the final lap Joe was ahead with Sebastian Segger-Staveley and Alex Thompson battling for the runners-up spot and Arthur Peel just another 10 seconds down. A determined effort by all of the boys brought good times for the 5km time trial and we just had to submit their results to the national organisers.

The Results were released on Monday 12th April where we found that their efforts had been more than worthwhile as individually Joe Carnelley was placed 4th nationally with his 5km time of 15minutes and 56 seconds, Sebastian Segger-Staveley was 9th (16.19), Alex Thompson 12th (16.28) and Arthur Peel 15th (16.37).

Just as impressive was the team result where the best 4 places counted towards the Senior Boys County Competition. All four North Yorkshire scorers came from Ermysted’s and they ran away with the team competition with their low score of 40 for the total of their finishing positions ahead of Essex (60) and Kent (72). So not running for England but at least beating all the County teams from the rest of England to show they still are a great team that would have done their country proud.