In January I won the Middlesex Schools' Cross Country Championships, granting me automatic qualification for the English Schools' Championships where the top eight runners from each of the 45 counties in England compete. The English Schools' Championships is a prestigious event and the top eight in each race get to compete for England at the Home Countries International. I was in the intermediate age category, meaning I was near the bottom of the age range and could be competing against 16-year-old runners as a 14-year-old.
On the 5th of March I travelled to Nottingham with the other Middlesex athletes for the race in the afternoon. The course didn't seem too tough, although it was longer than usual at 5.7km. However, this meant that the initial pace was very fast. As a bottom-year runner I was targeting a top-20 finish but, I found myself lower down the field to begin with. I managed to keep out of the shoving and crowding in the main group and worked my way up to the leading pack by the end of the first lap. The group became stretched out as the front runners kept their challenging pace up. I was not as competitive as I would have hoped in the early stage but, this meant I had a lot more in the tank and I was working my way up the field in the second and third laps.
I finished 19th overall in England and came 4th out of the year 10s who will be my main competition in the future. Next year I aim to stay injury free and finish in the top 5 for the English Schools' Championships. Hopefully I will be more competitive with the three year 10s who beat me this year. I also hope to earn an England vest and represent the country in the Home Countries International match in 2017.
Joseph Owen - Year 10 - (pictured above right)