By Henry Fagan
In early October, seven boys and their coach, Mr David Clarke, travelled to Wimbledon Common to take part in the King’s Trophy Cross Country race, competing against boys and girls from schools across the South of England. It was our first competitive meet since the pandemic and the Hampton boys were raring to go, many of whom had improved their personal best since the start of lockdown.
It was sunny yet wet underfoot, making for an exciting race. The hilly course panned 7km (4.35 miles), mostly woodland and gravel track through one of London’s most iconic open spaces. The Hampton team, comprised Lower Sixth Formers Henry Fagan, Sam Shephard, Luke Trotman, Will Nunn, Charlie Coulter and Daniel Clarke, and Ethan Flack from Fifth Year. Flack arrived at the finish line as the first Hamptonian, finishing an impressive 25th out of the 160 who competed. Trotman commented that “racing with so many different people from different schools was a very exciting opportunity.”
The course was unforgiving. After a deceptively easy flat start, the boys were soon challenged by an extremely steep downhill section which caught many competitors off guard causing them to retire early from the race through injury with no Hamptonians among them – it must be something in the hearty Hampton lunch.
There then followed an undulating muddy trail with the extra added obstacle of local dog walkers. We had anticipated running through water yet the race coordinators must have felt that that was an obstacle too far and instead that we should have to tackle a mile long uphill climb. Onto the final stretch, many of us miscalculated the distance still to run and arrived into the final line feeling rather fresh, all things considered.
A special mention should go to Luke Trotman and Sam Shephard who crossed the line with a high-five, both of whom are stalwarts of the Monday and Friday lunchtime cross country club open to all years at School. The cross country team is looking forward to their next race in Guildford shortly after half term.