Across the country 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 the athletes were running round courses of their own choosing. Some courses would have been flatter, windier or across easier terrain than others, which meant that the championships were not to be officially recorded with medals and trophies awarded, but they were taken extremely seriously by the athletes and provided a welcome opportunity to run a competitive event for the first time in over a year.
The Senior Boys’ team at Ermysted’s 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 the 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 five laps intending to help each other around the course. On the second lap, Joe 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 and Alex battling for the runners-up spot and Arthur 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, 12 April when we found that their efforts had been more than worthwhile, as individually Joe was placed 4th nationally with his 5km time of 15 minutes and 56 seconds, Sebastian was 9th (16.19), Alex 12th (16.28) and Arthur 15th (16.37).
Just as impressive was the team result, where the best four 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.