Perse runners on course for national cross country finals

Verity Valentine (Year 11) and Finn Maclennan (Year 9) will be picking up the pace in the national finals of the English Schools’ Athletic Association Cross Country Championships this weekend.

The Perse runners will be representing Cambridgeshire in the finals at Pontefract Racecourse on Saturday having qualified through district, county and regional rounds to get there.

Verity will be competing in the intermediate girls (Years 10 to 11) race, having finished runner-up in each of the Cambridge, Cambridgeshire and Anglian qualifiers.

She said: “I was happy with my performance in the Anglian round at Stamford, finishing first of the Cambridgeshire runners, because I’ve been balancing training with schoolwork and hockey.

“It was a good course because it was quite challenging. There were a few hills and constantly changing terrain and it was quite muddy as well.”

As well as regular hill running sessions with her club St Edmund Pacers, Verity has recently begun doing ‘gears’ training this season.

She explained: “It’s split so you start with a ‘gear one’ run for 15 minutes, a ‘gear two’ for 10 minutes and ‘gear three’ for five minutes and then go back and do it again. I’ve found it really helpful because it gives you extra confidence in a race.

“Hopefully I’ll have another good run at the national finals. I expect it will be quite hilly, which I enjoy because it adds variation and a slightly more technical side to the race as well.

“I’d really like to finish first of the Cambridgeshire runners, but there’s the possibility if I finish in the top eight overall, I could qualify to run for England at the SIAB International competition the week after.”

Meanwhile, Finn will be taking part in the junior boys’ (Years 8 and 9) race after winning the district and county titles before finishing fifth overall in the Anglian finals.

Finn, who trains with Cambridge & Coleridge AC, said: “I’m very happy as I didn’t expect to go all the way to the English Schools finals at the start of this year.

“I’d be very pleased to get into the top 20 at the national finals, so that’s going to be my aim. I’m quicker on the flat, but I think it’s going to be quite hilly at Pontefract.”

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