School cross country: Hundreds of Sheffield children compete in re-arranged race
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A total of 651 pupils, from 40 primary and junior schools, ran in the Primary Cross Country Association event on the Bole Hills field in Crookes.
The Year 3 and 4 boys’ race alone saw 224 children take part – a figure organisers believe to be the highest ever in a single race.
The original date for the Bole Hills meet had to be cancelled at the 11th hour in September due to a ‘clerical error’ which meant approval from Sheffield Council had not been granted.
The mistake meant the fixtures list had to be redrawn.
But the sun shone on the re-arranged morning fixture, with young runners aged seven to 11 competing against children from primary schools across the city.
Some 581 runners had turned out for the previous race – the first of the season – at Concord Park in Shiregreen.
Pete McLeod, chair of the Primary Cross Country Association which is part of the Sheffield Federation for School Sports, said: “We think 651 runners is the highest number we have ever had for a league fixture.
“The weather was really kind to us. Bolehills can be a very exposed place in bad weather, but the clear air, moderate temperatures and firm ground were absolutely perfect for good running.
“Westways Primary School, who hosted the fixture, did a superb job of marshalling and providing essential officials for the finish, as well as providing refreshments for one and all. They also ensured the course was taken down in record time!
“The level of sportsmanship was exemplary, with parents cheering on everyone, right down the last runner. It felt more like a gala than a competition, although there were some heartfelt tussles going on in the races. With all the school flags, it really did look look like a medieval tournament.”
Pete said the cancellation in September had been made ‘very reluctantly’ and stressed the entire race calendar is organised entirely by volunteers – ‘a mixture of school staff, former school staff and parents’ – who give up their own time to ensure that ‘something so valued by schools continues to take place’.
“Steve Moran needs a mention,” he said. “Although I chair the primary Cross Country Association, Steve, as secretary, has the job of booking venues, arranging schools to host, designing the courses and setting them up on the day, in addition to leading and holding together a small bunch of regular helpers.
“Clare Sanderson also needs a mention. Producing the results for a fixture is a thankless task, but Clare has now been doing this for several years, cajoling and nudging schools into sending their results, disseminating final results and generally reminding schools what needs doing.”
Further fixtures scheduled for the rest of the year include meets at Bradfield School on November 11, Norfolk Park on November 25, and Parkwood Springs on December 2.