Axe Vale Copmmunity College students May Wood (Yr9) and Tony Pinder (Yr10) were part of the East Devon and Exeter team at the Devon Schools Cross Country Championships held in Bideford, North Devon, writes Tracey Moran.

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There had been a week of heavy rain in the lead up to the event and fields were saturated which made the going very tough. What’s more the course took the runners over two hilly fields!

In a field of 48 runners May Wood took to her first experience of County running in her new spikes! The first lap of the 3,060m course was completed at a steady pace as May found her stride. The second lap saw a more confident run and May slowly made progress on several runners. A strong finish up the last hill placed May in a credible 26th place in a time of 15min 32sec - Well done May and you stayed relatively clean!

Tony Pinder had to wait until a couple of races had been run before he took to the course.

He was competing in the intermediate boy’s race (5,360m) event and, given that races had been run over the curse, conditions were muddier and heavier than ever!

Pinder positioned himself well with a powerful start and was in the top three for the first half of the race. Going into the last 1200m Pinder, not only looking very dirty, but also appeared to be looking very tired. He disappeared out of sight for approx 500m and reappeared in seventh position, but still with enough energy to flash a look at the camera and power on through the final climb! With 400m to go he used the last downhill section to his advantage, sprinting past one athlete to cross the line in sixth place in a time of 8min 57secs.

Pinder will now go on to represent Devon at the South West Championships in Bournemouth on February 8. This is an excellent achievement considering he was racing alongside Yr 11 boys.

It was a very humbling day to be part of as I watched so many inspiring young people put themselves to the test and so many parents living every second with them!

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