Saturday, 23 September 2017

Determination, inspiration and talent on show as all 185 runners complete races

Determination, inspiration and talent on show as all 185 runners complete races

WHAT a way to kick off the Henley Youth Festival 2017 on March 11.

The festival was back with a bang as 185 determined runners arrived at Swiss Farm with their proud parents, grandparents, siblings and, of course, their dogs. All eyes were set on bringing home trophies for their schools.

Despite the cloudy, muddy and misty conditions, the Year 1 and 2 girls had no hesitation in starting their 0.64-mile race at 9.30am. Go Kids had certainly got them running!

Their course was mostly flat terrain but was still as tough for them as for the other age groups as they dashed across the muddy field.

Soon Jemima Hepworth, of Sacred Heart, was sprinting towards the finishing line, chased by her opponents close behind and cheered on by compassionate spectators. Her motivation was to run for the team and so she did!

Next up was the year one and two boys’ race, which was just as compelling as the girls’ race. The young athletes were summoned to the start line, all determined to do their school proud.

In a flash, they were off. Swiftly, William Ely, seven, from Sonning Common, was at the finishing line, almost half the course ahead of his persevering opponents who were showing good spirit, determined to catch him up, and being cheered on by the crowd.

It was a good job William enjoys winning and overtaking opponents since he did just that, as he had done in his previous race at Chiltern Edge (where he finished second). We can wish William good luck in his upcoming race at RAF Benson.

William’s mum, a runner herself, was beaming with pride at his achievement.

Jemima and William were the first ever year one and two winners in the Go Kids Run, both true HYF legends with fabulous running talent.

Despite their efforts, Shiplake bagged the team prize in both the girls’ and boys’ races with Nettlebed and Sacred Heart just behind in the former and Valley Road and Nettlebed in the latter.

At 10.10am the event was well under way as the year three and four girls began their race for team glory and achievement. Crowds were gathering by now as the event heated up. The race tested their endurance with a course featuring varied terrain and two tough hills.

Nevertheless, the runners literally took it in their stride, with eight-year-old Evie Paton, of Peppard, coming home first, boosting her team’s morale as well as her own. Evie was very excited to be taking part, which drove her on.

This was followed by the year three and four boys’ race. The runners showed their endurance as they thundered down the track, with Valley Road’s William Tavinor, eight, taking first place.

During last year’s run, William’s asthma had made him struggle, so he had second thoughts about competing this year. Thankfully, his passion didn’t let that stop him and, astonishingly, he won, showing us all what running is about. He deservingly won an Inspirational Award for his achievement. Taking part was what mattered to this defiant boy.

Sonning Common won the girls’ race, closely followed by Rupert House and Peppard. Valley Road won the boys’ race, followed by St Mary’s and Shiplake.

The event reached its peak as it came to the yera five and six races. Their diverse one-mile course featured three hills, including an incredibly steep one, which the athletes cleared with ease.

At 10.50am, it was the time for the girls’ race to begin. The competitors were off in a flash, running like they never had before.

Within minutes, Charlotte Ashby, nine, was crossing the finishing line after running down a hill, bringing Nettlebed one step closer to a trophy. Even though she also ran last year, this was the toughest course she had faced. She was spurred on to victory not just for herself but for her team.

We hope Charlotte has the same success when she runs in upcoming Oxford Mail and Chiltern Edge races.

The boys’ race followed. Although there were fewer participants, the race was just as stimulating as the last.

The rapid runners took off like falcons and streaked across the stamina-testing course, intending to complete the race and do their team good.

Hal Rust D’Eye, from Kidmore End, had the edge to finish first, bringing glory to his team, who won the race ahead of Sacred Heart and Badgemore. He was certainly exhausted but very happy too.

At 11.30am the winners were announced and awards were handed out to runners who had shown inspiration.

Francesca King proudly received her award, having run on with a twisted ankle, showing great persistence and determination to finish the race.

Another runner who received an award for persistence was Bryony, who, despite having very sore feet, persevered to complete the race. Iona accepted her award for the fashionable feather boa and outfit she wore throughout her race.

Finley and Lily received an award each as it was their birthday (Finley’s was the day after).

The participants showed great spirit as they all completed the race and they should be very proud of themselves for taking part.

As the run proved, this year’s innovative Henley Youth Festival will definitely be one to remember.

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