Southmead runners start the sporting year in style!
KS2 athletes compete in the Stephen’s Shield Cross Country Running Competition
On Friday 15th October, 41 children from Key Stage 2 competed in the Stephen’s Shield, the annual regional cross country running competition held in Torrington. Over 500 primary children from 20 schools across North Devon took part in the event. A large number of local schools also entered, including three other schools from the Braunton Learning Co-operative Trust (Caen, Kingsacre and Marwood).
When we last took part in this competition at Torrington (2019) it was bitingly cold, with driving rain, soaking drizzle, mist, sodden ground conditions and a thoroughly miserable forecast. It started wet … and it only got wetter!
So what a lovely contrast, this year! We arrived on a cool, dry morning, after weeks of dry weather. The footing was firm, but not soft, and we didn’t have to swim, this year!
After an early start and taking an opportunity to walk the course before the race so the Yr5s and Yr6s could take in a slightly different course layout, it was finally time to start. And what a start!
Southmead shirts raced away from the start line, as the 80-strong pack of Year 3 boys shot off down the straight, towards the first corner. It was a nervous wait, but as the first finishers in the first race came into view near the funnel, we were delighted to see Sebastian in 4th. What a superb first result! With Tyler (61st) and Harry (66th) coming in almost together, the boys had put in a super first effort of the day, and we were really proud of their achievement. Unfortunately, as a 4-strong team is required to ‘score’ in this competition, the brilliant efforts put in by the boys could not count towards our team score. But they’ll be back, next year! J
Inspired by the boys’ opening achievement, the Year 3 girls dug deep and ran a fantastic race. Esme made it back within the top ten (8th), Sophie came in 15th, followed by Missy in 26th, before Ghazal and Nova raced home together in 58th and 59th! The top four had scored just 107 points, narrowly beating Woolsery to take 3rd and the first team top-three position! They had started our girls’ 2021 medal run in fine style!
The Yr4 boys were running in one of the largest races of the day, with full teams from 16 schools, along with many other children racing as individuals.
All of the Year 4 boys ran strongly, but numbers and the competition made this race particularly fierce. Cross Country Club runners Sebastian, Arno, Neo, and Winter all came back in the top 50 and were joined by Jacob and Paddy, who showed great resilience and determination with their runs. The team managed to record a score of 185, coming joint 9th with Filleigh, and just a single point (place) behind Combe Martin in 8th!
Like the other Yr4s and all the Yr3s,Teddy, Eva, Alice and Mila were all running in this event for the first time, not having had an opportunity to compete, last year. But they took the competition in their stride, with Eva matching Sebastian’s early achievement to make an incredible in 4th place and Teddy putting in a fabulous race, to come back 9th.
But on her way to the finish line, Alice noticed one of the other competitors had stopped and was having difficulties. Rather than continue past her, Alice focussed on what really was the most important thing at that moment, and helped this other child, accompanying her to an adult, so she could receive the help and support she needed. Alice might have lost some places, but we think that in doing so, Alice showed the very best of Southmead: caring for and helping others. The other school were so grateful to Alice that they wrote to Mr Plumb, to say thank you!
We couldn’t be more proud of you, Alice, Eva, Teddy and Mila: what a team! J
The Yr5 boys’ race was the first to feature children who had run at Torrington previously. Stephens Shield veterans Arty, Brody and Baker were joined by new runners Sam, Harry and Theo. And as two years ago, Baker put in a phenomenal sprint, really setting the pace for the early part of the race with a commanding lead around the first third of the course. Behind him in the pack, Arty was running a tireless race against himself and slashed his own previous position of 18th, to come in a terrific 9th! The next three boys all came in within the top 40, recording a total of 81 points, bringing the team in 4th, overall.
But the Year 5 girls’ team, many of them also Stephen’s Shield veterans from 2019, had seen the Yr3 and Yr4 girls performance and were determined to fight for every place.
Amelie equalled Sebastian’s superb 4th, with the next three finishers all returning in the top 40 (Isla 26th, Emma 31st and Layla-Jayne only just behind her in 36th). The girls had recorded a score of just 97, just 18 points short of South Molton who were in 3rd. So close, girls! What an amazing effort: well done, all of you! J
Yr6 boys’ Stephen’s Shield veterans Archie, Finley and Jensen were joined this year by Ashton, Vincent and Samuel. But the whole team was resolute and determined, and every one of them dug deep and put in a very strong performance. The remaining runners spectating this race were delighted to see Ashton lead the pack around both the rugby pitch and the football pitch, before heading off into the farm section of the course still in the top three. And there he remained, recording Southmead’s highest position of the day and coming in third across the line. He was followed by Finley in 14th, and close behind him came in Vincent, Archie and Samuel in 23rd, 28th, and 29th, respectively. Together with Jensen, every member of the team were in the 40, and with Southmead’s second lowest score of just 68, the Yr6 boys had taken third place!
But the Yr6 girls were saving the very best to last! In 2019 Amber, Annie, Ella, Ella-Gale and Lani (in that order) had secured gold, and they did it again in consummate style … and in exactly the same order!
With Amber in 5th, the next four girls came across the line in quick succession: Annie in 14th, followed by Ella in 16th, Ella-Gale in 18th and Lani in 21st! They were joined this year by Lotti who ran a superb race in her first Stephen’s Shield competition, coming in 53rd. Very well done, girls! J
The road back . . .
It was always going to be hard to top our tremendous record from the last few years. Covid absences and a Yr3 forest trip on the same day made our selection and team building particularly challenging, this year: with only three Yr3 boys, Southmead lacked a scoring team of 4 Yr3 boys. And lacking a scoring Yr3 boys team, Southmead could not be placed on the overall leader board, despite beating third-placed Torrington Bluecoat in 6 of the 8 races and by a very wide margin in points.
But once again, out of 20 competing schools, the Southmead team finished incredibly strongly. Eight runners were in the top ten of the eight different races. All our runners ran with great sportsmanship, and all of them demonstrated our school values of self-confidence and perseverance … in abundance! The girls did particularly well, netting podium positions in two out of their four races.
So once again the Southmead children have proved that they are among the top flight of young athletes in the region!
We couldn’t have attended the competition at all without the brilliant support of a tremendous group of very helpful parents, and we would like to thank all those who came along and helped our team participate on this very large site, keeping the children safe among all of the other competitors and adults.
Thank you for giving up your morning, for getting out early, helping the children to and from the coach, helping to erect the shelter, shuttling the children back and forth to start and finish lines (and toilets!), helping warm them up, cheering them on and helping them to calm them down again afterwards.
And a particularly huge thank you to those parents who then took the Yr3 children onwards to the Hakeford Forest site, so that they only missed one of the Yr3 activities. Thank you!
Thank you to our fabulous Parent volunteers:
And of course we wouldn’t have a running club at all without the help of Mrs Baker and Mrs Scott, and some very committed and generous parents, every week at Cross Country Running Club. Thank you so much. We couldn’t have done it without your commitment and dedication! Thank you from all of the club runners!
Finally, well done to ALL of the Southmead runners, including all of those there is not space to mention here. Once again you ran in fiercely competitive races, performed spectacularly and behaved brilliantly! I am very proud of you!
Competing schools (20):
West Exmoor Federation