We had no fewer than 20 athletes representing their schools in these annual championships, where the top 20 win selection to represent Essex in the South Esst Of England Inter Counties at Tonbridge on 21st March. Included in our squad of runners were three sprinters who gave themselves an outing on territory that was way out of their comfort zone, so great credit to them. For once, the weather was sunny and there was a light breeze. Even more noticeable was the lack of mud, as the course was pretty firm throughout.
In the Year 7 race, with 240 starters, the winner Lyle Bradshaw broke away early and was a clear winner. Molly Sherrin was in the next pack all closely bunched together. Molly pushed on hard over the latter stages of the race around the lake to claim an excellent 4th for her third Essex selection, her first for Essex Schools. Next home for us was 800 metre runner Amana Oguntuga, who bagged 16th place and was delighted with her first county selection. Next in, and what a great run, from Lexie Gobran, a sprinter who put over 200 runners behind to place 40th. Maya McNelis, another excellent all-rounder, placed 96th, while new members Frances Williams (118) and Lily Spong (138) both put over 100 runners behind them.
In the Year 7 boys it would be interesting to see how Gregor Samson would fare against runners in his own age group. Gregor, who had a fine race over 800m at Lee Valley last Wednesday, was 10th at the halfway mark. Coming into the finish he was up to 8th with three runners right behind him. He was unlucky not to hold them off, but still had an excellent race for 11th, to secure his first county vest. Patrick Heydon, who is still very new to our sport, did well to place 169th. There were over 220 starters.
In the Year 8 girls race with 175 starters, Abigail Reid passed her coach early on in around 10th place. But she was soon on the charge to retain her title with a resounding 46 seconds victory, looking comfortable throughout. Our next two runners were together all the way, with Emily Caton (7) and Jasmine Dolan (8) both securing county selection for the second year running. Rosemary Kelly was never that far behind her two clubmates and she, too, bagged her county vest for the second year running, finishing 12th. Our next athlete in, and having the race of her life, was Isabella Worwood. 74th last year, this time an excellent 20th which gave her her first county vest, just seven months after joining us. Another to improve by 20 places from last year, and making a tremendous drive in the closing part of the race, was Emily Millward in 38th. Sprinter Talia Woolf placed 99th. Molly Wain picked up an awful stitch very early on but had the courage to complete the course in a lot of discomfort in 147th. Great credit to another fine all-rounder in the club.
The year 8 race was a very fast affair with two of the best lads in the country battling it out, Plummer finishing first and McDonald second. After an excellent showing for Essex Schools last Saturday, Nate Harding placed 17th, but he had a terrible start which can happen in mass starts such are these. Nevertheless, this gained him Essex selection. Oscar Farthing Barbero was not far down on his team mate, running well for 29th, and sprinter Ethan Franklin was 112th.
So the club has nine athletes from these championships running for Essex on the 21st March, three for the first time.
These plus many others can now turn their energies to our final Met League at Trent Park this coming Saturday, which for many will seem like a home fixture as they train there every Sunday morning.