Anyway, in the last two weeks I've had two big races. First up was the prestigious Knole Run at Sevenoaks School. This race has been running for 43 years with a big participation every year from some very well known schools. As well as our school, other schools competing were Charterhouse, Harrow, Royal Hospital, Westminster and many more which you can see in the results. Over 47 schools and 200 runners lined up in the senior boys race on a snowy and freezing course. The course was 9.4km, two laps of a circuit which included many hills, two which looked very tricky indeed. Steep, long and torturous. Oh, and there were a few wild deer on the loose so we were hoping for no deer incidents! My school (The Coopers' Company and Coborn School) had 8 runners in total on the start line. One thing that helps a lot is having my best mate Ben Davis on the start line with me throughout the cross country season. He's a class runner and always a challenge to race against. Also a pretty good training partner in the pool!
The gun went and we all sprinted off to the first corner. There was a lot of jostling for position as the first hill was very close and very narrow. I got myself into the front pack of runners for the first 2km or so, but the speed was too much and I couldn't keep up. I dropped back and kept up a good tempo. However, just before I started the second lap one kind soul tripped me up on to some frozen mud. Landing shoulder first it hurt a tad and completely disrupted my rhythm. He was nice and he helped me up. Just wish he didn't have to help me up in the first place! The second lap was a struggle. I just had to make it to the finish in a good time which I did! Surprisingly I finished in 37min 50sec which I was very happy with considering the conditions! I finished in 57th place which was a bit disappointing, but after an amazing run from Ben coming home in 8th place and many other high finishes from our runners that was soon changed when we found out Coopers' had secured Team Bronze! This was the highest position our school had finished in the history of the run! We were pretty shocked and very happy! It was then time to put the heating on and get warm because it was freezing!
Results for Knole Run
Up next was the Essex Schools Cross Country Championships held at Hilly Fields in Colchester. This time it was a chance to represent my Borough and try to qualify for the Nationals later in the year. The race was a lot less snowy than the week before, but still as cold. My Zone 3 Parka jacket kept me very warm indeed! Once again Ben and I lined up on the start line this time representing Havering. The course was two small laps, two big laps in total 6.4km. I had not seen the course so had no idea what to expect, except the rumours that it was 'hard'. The two small laps were very controlled. A fast but comfortable pace was set by Ben and we formed a group. Immediately up the first incline the group splintered, Ben and two others broke away and I was still in a qualifying place. I pushed hard round the first lap until I came close to the end of the lap and encountered an unexpected hill. It was pretty steep and took everything out of me. Loosing a few places I now knew what the course was like. Better late than never .... right! On the second lap I was in 11th place, outside of qualifying (8th) but paced myself a bit better. I overtook one person and worked hard to close the gap to 8th and 9th ahead of me. I knew I was catching them and when I turned to go up the hill I thought I had them. I closed the gap until I was right behind them, finished the hill and then thought 'Oh no! .... might have pushed that effort a little hard Sam'. I felt really ill and may have had to briefly stop to be slightly sick, but I was determined not to give up. Runners were passing me and this now put me outside the top 10, but I was not settling for that. I flew down the final hill and into the finishing straight sprinting like I've never sprinted before, and achieved a finishing place of 10th. Annoyingly it meant I didn't qualify for the Nationals, but did qualify for the Southern Counties where I can try to qualify again. A massive well done to Ben who finished 3rd in Essex and goes on to the Nationals where I'm sure he will do great!
Results for Essex Championships
I'm really looking forward to what's in store for 2017. A huge thank you to all my sponsors and partners Pedal Potential, Swim Canary Wharf, Sam Farmer, The Body Therapy Company, Zone 3, Max Curle and Excel Physiotherapy for all their support.
Please enjoy this lovely selection of photos below, feat. Ben.