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Ben Peck reflects on winning the New Balance English Schools' Cross Country Championship in Liverpool




When Mildenhall College Academy’s Ben Peck crossed the finish line at the English Schools’ Cross Country Championship in Sefton Park, Liverpool, on Saturday he had no idea just how big his lead was.

But it took 13 seconds for the next competitor to catch him, making the Brandon-based Thetford Athletics Club member’s run all the more remarkable, given his far from ideal start.

“I did get off to a terrible start and I am not known for good starts and it did take me most of the first lap to get to almost the front,” said the 13-year-old, who was running in the Junior Boys (school years 8 & 9).

Ben Peck of Mildenhall College Academy and Thetford AC wins the Junior Boys race at the New Balance English Schools Cross Country championships on Saturday 14th March in Sefton Park, LiverpoolPicture: Tony Payne (31817975)
Ben Peck of Mildenhall College Academy and Thetford AC wins the Junior Boys race at the New Balance English Schools Cross Country championships on Saturday 14th March in Sefton Park, LiverpoolPicture: Tony Payne (31817975)

“On the second lap my plan was always to really go for it as usually I do not have the speed some of them have at the end and I was hoping to get far enough ahead.

“I could not really believe I had a gap of 13 seconds as that is a long time.”

His victory would normally have earned him a run for England at the SIAB Schools International Cross-Country in Falkirk, Scotland the following weekend. But the coronavirus pandemic had rumours it would be cancelled confirmed at the conclusion of the race.

Henry Dover of Woodbridge School (left) and fellow Suffolk runner Ben Peck, of Midlenhall College Academy took a silver and gold for the county in the Junior Boys race of the New Balance English Schools Cross Country Championships in LiverpoolPicture: Tony Payne(31817969)
Henry Dover of Woodbridge School (left) and fellow Suffolk runner Ben Peck, of Midlenhall College Academy took a silver and gold for the county in the Junior Boys race of the New Balance English Schools Cross Country Championships in LiverpoolPicture: Tony Payne(31817969)

He explained: “We did think SIAB might be called off but it was unfortunate they did not even give out the kit as there are six people in the team who have now missed out on getting it.”

Fortunately for Peck, whose brother James also ran, coming 52nd, he came third in the event last year, ensuring he did get the chance to don the England vest and run for his country in Dublin.

“It is a big race and was something I was looking to do as last year I came third with another year to go,” he said, having come fifth in theUK CAU Inter Counties Cross Country Championships in Loughborough the weekend before.

His training partner, St Edmund Pacers’ Lewis Sullivan, won that race and achieved his target of a top eight finish at the weekend on Merseyside.

Lewis Sullivan wins U15 boys race at the 2020 Saucony English National Cross Country Championship. Picture: Saucony, copyright SussexSportPhotography (30302770)
Lewis Sullivan wins U15 boys race at the 2020 Saucony English National Cross Country Championship. Picture: Saucony, copyright SussexSportPhotography (30302770)

Running in the higher age category for the first time in the Inters (school years 10&11) the Sybil Andrews Academy pupil managed to come home fifth, having been third until late on.


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