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King Henry VIII Relay Race 2019
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The 48th annual King Henry VIII School Relay Race took place on Wednesday 6th February, and this year saw more teams than ever before attend, from all over the UK. The Boys Relay Race was established in 1972, and was joined in 2000 by the Girls Race, this year celebrating its 20th race.
This year 93 teams attended, from as far north and south as Cumbria and Truro. More teams come to the Relay every year, and the race has been described by many coaches as a highlight of their calendar—one of the most important and enjoyable in the UK schools XC schedule: “with the look and feel of a championship”.
Over 90 volunteers from KHVIII School and the local community came along to provide support for the race. Fortunately for them, after some cold weather leading up to the day, Wednesday was warm and dry. The ground was slightly soft from rain earlier in the week, but the afternoon in the War Memorial Park was an appealing prospect for the Relay’s many spectators at least! Muddy conditions clearly didn’t hamper the running, as this year saw outstanding individual and team performances, and lots of changes on the leader boards for fastest lap times. The most exciting event in recent years, every Girls and Boys team demonstrated great athletic endeavour and determined effort, each runner covering a challenging 2.3 mile course through the park and surrounding woodland.
This year’s Boys Race was won with a superb performance by Ermysted’s Grammar School, of Skipton, North Yorkshire. A relative newcomer to the Relay, having first competed ten years ago, Erymsted’s took second place in 2018, and they are delighted to walk away with the trophy this year with a record-breaking time of 71.26. In second place came the Judd School (71.53), and Loughborough GS (72.00) took third – all three breaking the post-1991 course record! Connor Bentley, of Haberdasher’s Adams School ran the fastest lap of 10.58 (making him joint seventh fastest lapholder in Relay records since 1972, and only the second person to run the course in less that 11 seconds in the past twenty years). Euan Brennan (Giggleswick), Finn Birnie (Truro) and Joe Hudson (Ermysted’s) also contributed excellent individual performances, with the next three fastest laps, making it onto the coveted fastest runners leader board.
The Girls Race was won by Millfield School, of Glastonbury—consistently excellent performers at the Relay, who this year finished in 54.56, the third ever fastest time in the Relay’s history. Second place went to Queen Elizabeth Grammar School, Penrith, with another superb time of 56.02. Special mention must be made of Bradford Grammar School team, who not only came third with an excellent time (56.15) that places them seventh on the Relay’s leader board for overall fastest team times, but which comprised two Year 7 and two Year 8 girls—racing past other athletes almost twice as big and tall as them! There were outstanding individual efforts made by Ruby Vinton (Woodbridge), Elise Thorner (Millfield) and Jess Humphreys (Wrekin). Ruby is now the fifth fastest all-time lap holder for the Girls Race with a time of 13.01, and Elise and Jess are close behind.
It’s a testament to the truly astonishing talent on display at the Relay this year that we have so many new names on the leader board—and what a great way to mark 2019 as the year in which Coventry is the European City of Sport. Who knows how many of this year’s competitors we will see in the future, representing Team GB on the international athletics stage? KHVIII Relay Race is proud to be an official event in the City of Sport programme for 2019, which you can follow on Twitter via @CovSport.
This year’s Guest Speaker was Stephen Murphy, who ran the Relay’s fastest lap himself in 2001 on behalf of St Albans’s School, in a time of exactly 11 minutes, earning him a top ten place on the leaderboard! Now an international coach, and school XC squad coach at St Colomba’s College, Stephen had some great encouragement and advice to share with our young athletes, before presenting the prizes.
The hard work, athletic endeavour and enthusiastic support from parents, pupils and teachers always creates a fantastic atmosphere for this great event, which is an important part of our School’s sporting tradition, and which firmly establishes the Race’s reputation in the wider UK Schools’ XC calendar.
Mr Andrews, Relay Race Coordinator.