ON Saturday two teams from Ermysted’s Grammar School and South Craven Academy’s Junior Girl’s team ran in this year’s final of the English Schools’ Cross-Country Cup at Tretheras College in Newquay.

Over 2000 teams from more than 600 Schools had entered this year’s competition and had set out in October to reach this far by being one of the top 3 teams in the North Yorkshire Preliminary Round and then top 3 at the North East of England match last month at Middlesbrough’s Stewart Park. As well as team aspirations for Ermysted’s Inter Boys’ team Ermysted’s Senior runner, Alex Thompson, had also won the North Yorkshire and North East of England qualifiers and had hopes of repeating a national victory in the competition he won in both 2016 and 2018.

Alex Thompson is running well at the moment having recently won the previous round but he was up against stiff competition from all over England. This event is a team event and the Final sees the best three school teams of 6 runners, from each of nine geographical regions, compete on the day. So Alex set off amongst the 162 runners in the cavalry charge start. The venue was excellent for cross-country with the start and finish area in the open playing fields towards the top of the school site, but with a gentle gradient running away to a testing series of rises between each of the terraced regions of the school site. Alex seemed to enjoy the course and was well-placed as one of the front runners and looked quite comfortable on each of the climbs as gradually the leaders were whittled down to an elite group of four. Alex’s name was heard repeatedly on the PA, as they completed each of the three full laps. However, he fell back on the final hill and had to settle for 4th place, This competition has been good to Alex over the years as he won individually in 2016 in Liverpool, was one of Ermysted’s winning Intermediate Team in 2017 at Sevenoaks and regained his individual title in 2018 at Woodbridge, but the hat-trick was not to be.

Dougie Segger-Staveley ran well to finish 53rd, with Oscar Smyth 109th and Freddie Marsh 110th for a team total of 276, good enough for 20th of the 27 teams. All of Alex’s team-mates are younger and will have the chance to compete in future years.

As will non-scorers Jack Acornley 138th and Andrew Robinson 142nd.

Ermystd’s Intermediate team had the best chance of the local teams of making an impact on the day having won their previous round at Middlesbrough with a low wining score.

They set off well with Sam Bentham well inside the top 20 and the rest of the team towards the front half of the field. The Inters also ran three laps and things were looking promising for a high team placing with both Sam and Lachlan Wills inside the top 20 and Tom Hooper & Ewen Wilkinson in the top 50. However, disaster struck for the team when Sam got a stitch and had to stop.

Lachlan had a brilliant run to finish just 12th with Tom Hooper running on well for 52nd, Ewen Wilkinson 58th and Nathan Hird completing the team in 73rd. Their team total of 195 was higher than hoped but still good enough for 8th place Nationally.

Their non-scorers were Samesh Chotai 100th and Sam Bentham 126th who ran on gamely once he got his breath back.

South Craven’s girls had done well just to get to the final, coming third in their regional round and were really looking for experience for the years to come.  Milly Timbers led their challenge in 40th with Izzy Patefield 67th, Holly Fitch 72nd and Betsy Willis 150th.  Their team total of 329 made them 22nd school and hopefully will have given them a taste of National competition, given them some good experience and they should be back stronger next time.