Sedbergh School Running team entered the annual King Henry Relays in Coventry on Wednesday 1st February, competing against more than 60 schools from all over the UK. A successful outing saw the girls’ and boys’ team return to Sedbergh feeling jubilant with A team positions of 4th and 6th for boys and girls.

Head Coach of Sedbergh Running Jon Richardson, said: “What we saw at the event yesterday was, importantly, a great team effort. They made me very proud. Our boy’s A team came in 4th and girls’ A team came in 6th; a fantastic achievement.

We took five teams altogether and our boys’ B team came in 6th and 25th, and girls’ C 13th and 1st C team. The girls’ B team came in 14th and 2nd B team. The weather was fine but the course was sodden from three days of rain in Coventry.”

This historic race offers no place to hide; no missed tackles to be had and no mistakes can be made. Fergus MacMillan, in his final year, got the boys off to an excellent start with an improved 12:20, supported by Martin Askew in the B team running a consistent 13:05.

The girls soon followed and Maria led the line, beating her coach’s time (set early in the morning) by one second to finish in 14:32. The ever-improving Hattie Duxbury ran 15:28 to put the C team ahead of the B team. Josie Coulthard did her part for the team in helping Maria in the early part of the race to finish in 16:20.

George Rigal ran the second leg for the boys’ A team and came home in 13:16. This was a good run and with more experience he will improve. Spencer Bird showed great form to keep the B team in touch with a 13:18.

Amy Slattery showed the form again the has gained her selection to the 1st team and ran a very composed 14:58. 

The next challenge is get a Sedbergh School girl into the 13 minutes. The B & C team continued their strong race with only a few seconds separating Molly Barrett 15:33 and Alex Duckitt 15:25.

Ben Van Dijk ran an excellent leg to gain ground on the leaders and move the team through the field. I’m confident next year that he can run under 12 minutes and improve on the 12:29 set today. Dan Holley ran through the pain barrier to keep the B’s well placed.

The girls had their sights set on breaking the hour mark as the race was already won by Sevenoaks. Georgina Boyd-Moss picked up the baton and ran well to finish in 15:21. The B & C team battled continued to excite; the Cs still with the slight advantage. Both B & C were aiming for 63 and 65 minutes. Alice Slattery kept the C team in front with a great 15:37 but the young Tash Cookson closed the gap running 15:23.

Jamie MacMillan ran well on the fourth leg as the course began to worsen. He overtook three teams to put Joe Bird in a better position. His time of 13:01 was good. Will Player, running with a recent injury, defied all form and ran a superb time of 13:39. Will was more valuable than he will ever know.

The girls’ race was coming to climax and Sally Bennett took on the last leg duties and brought the team home in under the hour, with her usual consistency in 15:03. Surely one of these girls will get the record of 14:17 one day.  The team finished in 6th place and can be well pleased with their efforts.

The battle between the B & C team just kept intensifying. The girls’ captain took the baton for the Cs and Olivia Murray soon set off chasing. However, Isobele (15:41) was strong enough to hold of Olivia (15:37). Both teams finished under 63 minutes and only 26 seconds apart showing the depth in girls running. Out of 28 teams they finished 13th & 14th.

In the boys’ race, captain Joe Bird set off like he had somewhere to be. Joe caught around five teams and ran the fourth fastest leg of the day in 11:40. Oliver Ward showed what a competitor he was to run 13:17 and keep the B team in a good position.

Joe handed over to Fraser Sproul putting him ahead of the pre-race favourites Shrewsbury by only a few seconds. The race at this point was over with Loughborough well in the end and national 3000m champion on the last leg. He ran 11:17 and set the fastest leg of the day. Sedbergh set off in 6th place.

Fraser ran superbly to put Sedbergh in 4th place with only 400m to go. He had two great runners on his tail, one from St Albans and the other from Shrewsbury. The latter had recently won the private schools national title. I think they thought that Fraser would be caught out in the sprint finish. However, to everyone’s amazement it was Fraser who kicked with 200m to go and he held off the opposition to make sure that we Sedbergh came home with some silverware.

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