The National Primary and Cross Country Finals
Report – Becks Ledgard, Rachel Stevens, Nicola Sant and David Jones.
These Championships were first held in 2015 at Belvoir Castle, attracting around 800 entries. By 2019 the event had moved to Prestwold Hall in the heart of the Leicestershire Countryside and touched record entries.
The 2020 edition was heading for even higher numbers but of course we all know what happened then…….
A low key return in 2022 using the Harborough Showground saw the flame reignited for the event. The 2023 edition headed back to Prestwold Hall and took the event back to its pre-pandemic glory with the famous big screen on site and professional multi camera live streaming to inspire the athletes of the future.
For the few of our hardy juniors who made the journey it was the end of a long hard XC season. They can now hang up their XC spikes.
Toby Ledgard and Charlie Castle’s journey to the Year 5 Primary School’s National Cross-Country Championship started way back in October when they ran their first ‘cross-country’ race for school … on the almost entirely concrete Junior parkrun route!!
Fast forward to February and they had both done well enough in a couple more races to be selected to run for South Warwickshire.
When this next race was postponed and then ultimately cancelled both boys were really disappointed.
To soften the blow, ‘Warwickshire Schools’ decided to select double the amount of children to take to the Nationals than they usually do.
Charlie, who had amazingly come consistently 2nd in every race, was given a place in the ‘A’ team whereas Toby, just beaten into 6th place by someone with a startling sprint finish in the Stratford region race, just missed out. He was so disappointed and even toyed with the idea of entering as an ‘individual’ but was unsure as he wasn’t convinced he deserved it!
However, he had great news just 6 days before the final finding out someone had dropped out and he had a confirmed place on the ‘B’ team.
Race day, with them competing in the U11BY5 race run over 2.3k came and both boys were up for it!
Toby, a regular this season in the U11 team for the club, was used to running at a variety of different venues but Charlie, who is one of Toby’s training pals at the Tuesday night junior track sessions, was relatively new to cross-country and understandably pretty nervous. Nevertheless he absolutely went for it coming 82nd overall out of 190 runners and 3rd out of the Warwickshire team in a time of 10:03
Toby also didn’t disappoint, probably benefiting from having watched his brother at the same venue 3weeks earlier, coming home in 112th overall with a time of 10:21. What he was especially pleased with was that he really proved he deserved his place in the squad – only coming in as a replacement at the last minute yet finishing a brilliant 9th out of the 20 Warwickshire athletes selected!
On what was a challenging course, which was very muddy in places with varying weather conditions (standing in sunshine on the start line but crossing the finish line in a thunderstorm) both boys really had fun.
In the U11GY5 race, also run over 2.3k, Emily Lambert rounded off what has been an excellent first season of XC with a superb run, finishing in 30th place out of 162 runners in a time of 10:47.
In the U11GY6 race, run over 2.7km Isabella Marriott recorded a time of 11:46.
Kipp Stevens ran for Hereford and Worcestershire Year 7 boys team over a distance of 3k. After a terrific start, he held on well to finish in overall 31st/147 – up 45 places from last year in a time of 12:18. He was delighted to be second boy home for his County.
What a difference a year’s training at SUAAC makes!
Stella Sant had a great time in the U13GY7 race over 3k despite the awful weather, with thunder and lightning and really sticky mud. Lots of the girls in her race finished shoeless! Stella fell over but got back up and finished 61st out of 139 runners in 13: 52 and had a really fun race apparently!
In the same race Georgia Sharpe also battled through the mud to finish in 15:58