Wayne Faulconbridge, Head of Prep School Sport at Ratcliffe College, provides the following report:
After a glorious early part of the week, when the winter cold had been banished to distant memory and the wonders of summer had sprung all around us to fill us all with joy. It would have been understandable if a little naïve to assume that it would last until the weekend and our annual Cross Country Event, which has traditionally been held in howling gales, torrential rain or better still freezing temperatures and snow.
It therefore goes without saying that as I arrived early on Saturday morning I was greeted by grey skies, a feeling of damp foreboding hung in the air and yet there on the horizon there was, for a person with a positive disposition a faint glimmer of hope, a burnt orange brightness battling to banish the clouds away.
With the passing of each of the competitors cars rolling up the driveway heralding the welcome victory of the spring sunshine over the winter gloom thankfully vanquished for the remainder of the day so that all of the brave, energetic young souls could race the course with the sun on their backs and only a light breeze to cool them as they approached the finish.
Over 300 young athletes enjoyed the conditions, the course and the camaraderie that only cross- country running can provide. Families, friends and teachers not only cheering on their own children but encouraging all of those who had shown the tenacity and temperament to give it a go.
We witnessed outstanding performances of great athletic potential from the athletes who raced around the course, fleet of foot seemingly gliding over the ground and hardly out of breath at the finish.
We also witnessed performances of great courage and determination from those children who found the challenge difficult but were unbowed by it and refused to wither but decided to carry on to the end with the support and encouragement of all.
We witnessed the joy and excitement of the fun runners whose boundless energy infected us all as they charged off on their adventure to find the chocolate that waited for them at the end.
And we witnessed the power of the human spirit when Neel a young boy who although blind showed us all that if we truly believe we can achieve something, then we can if there is someone there willing to help us along our chosen path. He completed the fun run with his guide runner with the brightest smile I have ever seen on a child after a cross country run. This was a truly moving moment that I am sure had a profound effect on all who witnessed it, it was without doubt the highlight of this year’s event.
As I left the sun still shone, the grounds lay still, at peace again but what had transpired throughout the morning will echo through time, yet another memorable Ratcliffe Sporting experience had passed until next year.
Or better still, come to have a look for yourself at our Open Morning on Saturday 9th March from 9:30 – 12 noon.
Thanks to Sunny Hoyle for photographing the event.