Northern Schools’ Inter-County Cross Country Championship – Saturday 8th February – Lowther Castle, Penrith

Race Report by Nathan Nicholson

Ben Hodgson, Alan Edwards, Max Butler, Fraser Allan, Jacob Brown, Isobel Harrison, Eliza Cooper and I travelled early on Saturday 8th February to Cumbria, to take part in the Northern Inter-County School Cross Country race.

Everyone who was there to compete had really earned the opportunity to take part in this race, by qualifying in two previous races in their local area. For me it was at Preston Park, where I finished in the Top 8 and Stewarts Park, where I finished in the top 16.

To be selected for the English School Championships in Liverpool in March, athletes competing for Cleveland Schools, had to finish in the Top 8 and everyone had this in mind when travelling there.

We all arrived at Lowther Castle at around 11am, about 3 hours before our race, so we had plenty time to walk the course, so we knew what to expect. When walking the course, we knew that it would be a really tough going, because of how hilly is was and the depth of mud in parts. And this was before the ground had been ran on many times. My race was one of the last in the day and watching the other races, I could see the course conditions getting tougher and tougher.

Earlier in the day Fraser, Jacob, Isobel and Eliza all ran really well in their races, giving it their all, which is all they could do. A big well done to Fraser who finished high up in his race by running a nicely paced race. Also well done to Jacob who also ran really well and finished 3rd Cleveland runner, but unfortunately with him being in year 7, this was the final for him.

One hour before my race I started to warm up by doing drills, warm up runs and strides. Then before I knew, it was 10 minutes to the race and I quickly got my layers off and headed for the start line. We were placed into our county pens and at this point I was feeling nervous. It was a really narrow start, so I knew I needed to get a good position and then just settle in.

The gun went and the race started straight into a head wind from the word go. After a hectic first straight the nerves settled, and I was into the race. In this race, from Marsh House Harriers, there was Ben, Alan, Max and me.

Ben got off to a great start and was 3rd Cleveland runner. He paced himself really well by keeping this position throughout the race. Due to how narrow the start was, Alan and I didn’t get the start we wanted and were 9th and 10th Cleveland runners.

After the first lap I heard my dad shout that I was 9th Cleveland runner and I knew I needed top 8 to qualify. Alan must have heard this as well as we both picked the pace up and steadily picked lots of runners off one by one, with Alan really helping me along.

Alan and I crossed the finishing line and I was over the moon with how my race went. We managed to finish 4th and 5th Cleveland runners and secure a place in the finals. Not too far behind, Max Butler finished, but unfortunately did not qualify for the next round, he was carrying a bit of an injury and hopefully it’s not anything serious.

We all then retreated to Lowther Castle for warm drinks and a chat. Overall it was a great day and a fantastic running experience.

Liverpool here we come!

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