THE BUSY finale to the cross country season continued for Stratford Athletic Club youngsters when they competed in Saturday’s New Balance English Schools’ Cross Country Championships at Wollaton Park in Nottinghamshire.
The previous week had seen the staging of the National Championships for all club runners and this time it was the turn of numerous Stratford runners to represent Warwickshire – including three making their debut at this level – as the leading eight athletes in each age group ran for their county.
First off for the club was Jess Sheppard in the intermediate girls’ age group. Jess is mostly a 300m/400m track runner so to make the team is quite an achievement and she was happy to finish seventh in the county team and 321st overall.
Next in the junior boys’ team was Will Crowfoot (325th) who was the first of the SAC debutants. Will enjoyed the race and finished quickly on the long, downhill straight to make up several places.
Half of the Warwickshire junior girls’ team were from Stratford including the other two who were running at these championships for the first time.
Georgie Campbell (170th) had finished second at the County Championships and led the team home with another solid run after her 38th place in the National the week before.
Imogen Sheppard (251st) was third for the team, followed by Abbie Wootton (308th) and Ellie Bryan (332nd).
Georgie and Ellie will be in the same age group next year and will be looking to continue to improve as they have this season.
Finally, Oscar Barbour and Fergus Allison have just moved up the senior boys’ team so were looking forward to the longer race.
Fergus (275th) started very quickly on the first lap, showing his inexperience at this level. Unfortunately, he paid for the start by fading back down the field over the next two laps but somehow he found new energy to sprint down the finishing straight and make up 30 places in the final 300m.
Taking the opposite approach, Oscar (218th) had an easy start but looked strong throughout the race and moved past other runners consistently.
Both boys will be confident of improving next year when they will be among the older runners.
Report compiled by Paul Hawkins.