The toughest cross country event on the calendar took place at Giggleswick school. The Catteral shield is an annual prestigious event with well over 300 runners taking part each year. Nineteen schools in total entered the event with boys and girls teams at under 13 and under 11 age groups. At Oakhill we were proud to be one of only 4 schools entering in all four races.
Due to the warm but wet winter we have endured the course was extremely soft under foot and we were warned that after the first race it would resemble the Somme rather than a cross country course and that certainly was no exaggeration!
Our under 11 boys were the first to step up to the start line with a mixture of nerves, excitement and trepidation at the task of the 2300m run. A great start was had by all and all managed to pace themselves quickly and get into the rhythm of the run. Ben Thompson had an amazing start and was running with the top ten runners for the first half of the race.
Next, it was the turn of our under 11 girls team made up of Felicity Griffiths, Maeve Bentley, Sorcha Purves, Abigail Lofthouse, Olivia Bentley and Lily Lee. This was a big race with almost 100 competitors. Felicity made her usual flying start gaining a good position within the race. Maeve had her head down and dug deep focussing on her pacing and technique as she always does. More team work was seen with the rest of our runners encouraging each other along and motivating each other up the fell section of the run. There was great effort and enthusiasm from all of our Prep girls who should be rightly proud of themselves for all of their individual achievements.
For our under 13 and senior girls race the course was extended to 2700m this meant two laps of the flat but boggy field before enduring the hilly fell part of the race. Our three girls worked magnificently hard. Juliette Griffiths and Isabel Pugh worked as pace setters for each other throughout the race keeping one another in each other’s sights and even having a sprint battle to the finish from the final hill drop and the 300m sprint to the finish. Alicia Birchall was outstanding although she found the run difficult she refused to give up showing great strength, grit and determination she was my star runner of the day!
The final race of the day was the toughest, our under 13 boys had to run 3400m and complete two laps of the fell section of the course. Not to mention the state of the terrain after the previous 3 races. At parts bogs were knee deep! Our boys were excited and confident as they lined up on the start.
This was to be the toughest cross country challenge to date but they all rose to the challenge. James Sutterby led our team for the first lap of the course but it was Arthur Shaw who had saved a little burst of energy to overtake James on the second lap and to be our first boy to cross the line. Ellis Lund, Alex Lutwyche and Harry Pike had to dig deep and never gave up all completing the course with smiles on their faces.
After a shower all of our pupils enjoyed sausage and chips and discussed and laughed about their race experiences.
Special thanks have to go to Mrs O’Kane and Mrs Rawlinson for helping with the logistics of the teams and being our motivators and fan club around the course. Also special mention must go to Lucy Fielden our Year 11 pupil who took the role of cross country captain. She was a great role model to our younger athletes, warming them up before their races, getting them organised and motivating them around the course, using her wealth of cross country experience to offer advice on their race strategy.