8 February 2019
On Wednesday a strong Abingdon squad made their way to Coventry for the 48th annual King Henry VIII relays. An event that is often considered as the unofficial national relays with schools attending from 400 miles apart. The race is steeped in running history with a whose who of elite runners listed on the fastest lap board.
With all six members fresh from qualifying to compete for Oxfordshire the week before, confidence was high and the aim was to place in the top 10 after an excellent 7th place last year. However, the record-breaking competition was the fastest since 1983, so it would require a very strong team performance to earn the coveted top 10 felt badges.
Alex Pennington kicked off proceedings with a well paced run to bring the baton through changeover in 17th, but was as ever critical of his performance despite the good time he posted. The reliable Matthew Kunov then ran a consistent 2nd leg to keep Abingdon involved, in 19th. Fourth year Rowan Miell-Ingram followed this with a very mature performance against stiff opposition bringing the team through halfway with a strong finish in 18th.
Then came the turn of the third year county champions Johnny James and Will D'Arcy, who had a lot of work to do to close the gap to the top 10 target. Both ran outstanding times for their age and they had Pennington anxiously checking the stopwatch and thinking of emergency excuses, although they didn't quite claim the scalp of the legendary lower sixth athlete.
The captain David Bunn was sent out on the anchor leg in 15th, knowing that a top 10 position was just about possible with a good run, thanks to the excellent performances that went before him. He took it out hard in the first kilometre, clawing back three places and finding himself in a battle for 10th. Driven on by the thought of the felt badges, Bunn then put in a majestic last kilometre to bring the team home in 8th, ducking under the magical 12 minute barrier in the process.
In total, this year's team placed just 1 place lower and 1 second slower than last year, despite being a total of 8 years younger, which bodes extremely well for future performances.
Many thanks to Mr Birkbeck and Mrs Widdern for supporting the squad on the day.
Alex Pennington: 12:22 (17th)
Matthew Kunov: 12:57 (19th)
Rowan Miell-Ingram: 12:54 (18th)
Johnny James: 12:31 (16th)
Will D'Arcy: 12:37 (15th)
David Bunn: 11:58 (8th)
Abingdon: 75:21 (8th)
Written by Cross Country Captain David Bunn
For photos, a full breakdown of results and further information about the race please visit this link.