The curtains closed on the 2015 Leicestershire primary schools cross-country league in spectacular fashion with four-time Olympian and 10,000 m European champion Jo Pavey in attendance to sign autographs and present a vast array of prizes at the end of the day.
The league is beyond doubt the biggest of its kind anywhere in the UK and Jo was quick to point out just how lucky our young runners are to have this opportunity.
The three events attracted near-record all-time numbers only being surpassed by the post-Olympic bounce in 2012 which reflects nationally the growing interest in running and especially cross-country running at the younger age groups. Despite the deteriorating weather conditions there were almost identical numbers at each of the three matches which completely bucks the trend of the past so thank you to everyone who has supported us over the autumn it is greatly appreciated and we hope that you will be back next year! Of course the big attraction of the day was Jo Pavey who spent a good deal of the morning signing autographs and posing for photographs as well as showing her enthusiasm for the sport and interest in the young athletes by chatting to them and congratulating them on their performances no matter how modest they were. She was also keen to meet and thank the vast array of volunteers who help put on the events and was always keen to recognise the work that these invaluable people do, she commented “I am always really grateful to the volunteers that helped put on events in my junior years as without them I wouldn’t have had the opportunities to compete and progress”. The end of the day saw Jo, prior to her long trip back to Devon, handing out dozens of medals and trophies to the individual series winners and also to the schools.
Commenting at the end of a long cold day John Skevington added “I am so grateful to Jo for giving up her time and no doubt breaking into her Olympic trials preparations to attend our event, she was truly an inspiration to many of the aspiring young athletes that took part today and I am sure that the memories of meeting her will be treasured for a long while” .
Here is THE measure of the staggering success of the Leicestershire Primary Cross Country League.
On Saturday October 31st, 2015, Lily Billington, from the Hall School at Glenfield, was the 144th finisher in the year 4 girls race.
There were over 200 runners in just that race.
More amazingly, Lily was the 100,000th finisher to cross the line since the league was set up. Yes that is One Hundred Thousand.
Here’s Lily with a special trophy presented on Saturday.
Photo Credit: F/Stop Event Photography – Ryan Richards
This league has been incredible and some of the parents reading this page may possibly have run at Western Park or Braunstone Park in the 80s. Please feel free to add your thoughts or comments below. (Your email address will not be shared or published).
George Smolinski, one of the small group who initially set up the league, has provided many newsletters covering the events.
The newsletters can be found on THIS LINK