On January 31st, Tiffin made the long journey to King Henry XIII School in Coventry for the annual National Cross Country Championships. Tiffin managed to field its preferred first 12 runners to fill out an A and B team for the first time in a long time and arrived at the championships with two targets: aim to be the most improved Cross Country team in the country, and wherever we place we do it with a smile on our faces!
The Relay Race is extremely prestigious and has been running since 1972, with former competitors including the likes of Seb Coe and the Brownlee brothers to name a few! Tiffin have been attending since 1996 and we travelled to Coventry with one of our strongest A teams since that first trip in 1996. While it is a National Championship, teams from far and wide attended this year’s Relay Race, including St. Michael’s Enniskillen who flew all the way from Northern Ireland to compete!
On the track walk, it was quickly ascertained that the infamous woodlands section would be even more difficult to navigate than usual, with soft ground underfoot and a rather large puddle to fly through. The risk of going with spikes would however be too much given the amount of concrete on the remainder of the track, making the wooded section ever more challenging. The boys were well aware of the challenge ahead after walking the 3.7km long track (2.3 miles in old money).
Nik was up first to start the course and despite developing a cold on the morning of the race, battled through the first leg to finish within a respectable distance to the runners ahead with our strongest runners yet to come. Thomas (in Year 9 no less) was next on the changeover and battled through the pack to make some crucial overtakes despite getting held up in a narrow section of the woodlands! In spite of this, Tom put in a great time of 13:09 to set up Connor, our strongest runner in a generation, to make serious moves up the pack.
What followed was quite astonishing. Connor Foley put in an unbelievable performance, a stunning 11:40 split is Tiffin’s best ever in its history of attending the relay race, and was the joint-ninth fastest lap of the whole day – to put that in perspective, there were 348 competitors at the race this year and he was only ten seconds off the top 5 times! To be the ninth fastest athlete at the race of this calibre is a monumental achievement – really well ran Connor! A name to remember for sure as he takes the leap across the pond to Dartmouth College, N.H. to compete in track and cross country next year – best of luck to him!
Once Connor had catapulted us into a really strong position, Oscar (13:04) and Cathal (13:32) ran two very strong stints to put us in a favourable spot for the final lap. Atharv, our resident Y12 triathlete, recorded our second quickest lap of the day (12:12), which is a great achievement given how the woodlands would’ve churned up by that time, alongside a few crucial overtakes to push up to finish 16th overall out of 58 teams and the 15th fastest school at the race. The B team also gave an outstanding effort, even losing some footwear through the woods, to finish as the 16th fastest B team at the race.
With a total time of 79:26, we were confident that it placed us in a strong position for that most improved trophy. Lo and behold, we gained 11 places on last year’s performance and we won the John Vickers cup for the most improved boys team at the race, only the third time Tiffin has won silverware at the event since we first attended in 1996. Mr. Shaw recalled this year’s event as one of the best he’d attended since 1996 and was very proud of both teams and the 12 runners representing the school. Massive congratulations to all involved!
Thomas (Y9) heading towards the finish of his 13.09 split.
Arthav starting his very impressive 12.12 final lap.
Our A Team Captain (Connor) and B team Captain (Esteban) with the John Vickers Cup for the most improved team!
Our Captains accepting the John Vickers Cup from Chris Finill who ran the race in 1975 alongside Sebastian Coe and has ran every London Marathon since it’s inception, as well as John O’Groats to Lands End, and San Francisco to New York!