The Royal Shrewsbury School Hunt has the distinction of being the oldest running club in the world, with records dating back to the early 1830s. Last weekend, when they successfully defended their national cross-country title in the prestigious Knole Run, they also demonstrated that they are one of the best.
With more than 35 teams competing from around the country, the Knole Run, held at Knole Park near Sevenoaks in Kent, is one of the most important races in the schools’ cross-country calendar.
Last year the Royal Shrewsbury School Hunt lifted the trophy for the first time in the school’s history, winning the team competition by just one point. This year the squad won the race in style, taking home the team title by a margin of over 70 points from second-placed challengers, The Judd School from Kent.
Team Captain Freddie Huxley-Fielding made light work of the 9.5km undulating course, storming home to break the tape nearly 200 metres ahead of his closest rival and becoming the first Salopian to win this race since 1997. He was joined on the podium by his team mate Will Hayward in third place. After Freddie, Will is the highest-placed finisher Shrewsbury has had at the Knole for many years.
Shrewsbury’s B team claimed ninth place overall, beating several other schools’ A teams. They were the highest-scoring B team by around 75 points.
Shrewsbury School’s girls also impressed, with the standout performance coming from Francesca Harris, who finished in third place overall. Her achievement was all the more remarkable given that she is just 13 years old and was running in an event open to girls up to five years her senior.
Ian Haworth, Teacher in Charge of Cross-Country Running at Shrewsbury, was thrilled with the squad’s success and said:“Having waited for so long – over 40 years – to win the Knole Run trophy before our success in 2016, it means a great deal to the Royal Shrewsbury School Hunt to be able to retain it in 2017, and I see it very much as a statement of intent. Having been ‘up-and-coming’ for a number of years now, it’s a wonderful feeling to really establish ourselves as one of the very best running schools in the country, a reputation we hope to cement for many years to come.’
“The success of the team is a direct result of the huge amount of hard work and dedication put into training by so many of our athletes, not just those in the six counting places but right through the club. A national title such as this is just reward for their efforts,” said Ian.