100 years at Lancing

Additional information supporting article

The links below feature complete reports on the 1913 race from the Gazette and the Lancing College newspaper, as well as the report on the 2013 race from the West Sussex Gazette.  Please click on the links below to access each article.

Extract from April 1913 Gazette containing full report on first Lancing match

Extract from The Lancing College Magazine, April 1913, reporting on that match

Report in the West Sussex Gazette (no relation), November 2013, reporting on the centenary match

Original article - published in May 2014 Gazette, page 20

Our annual visit to Lancing College, held this year on 9th November, marked the centenary of our first cross-country race against the school.

Whilst much has changed with the race in the intervening 100 years, not least the inclusion of teams from Charterhouse, Sevenoaks, Ardingly, John Fisher and Brighton and that it no longer excludes women, our hosts commented that the course is mostly the same.  There have, however, been some refinements.  As the Gazette of April 1913 put it:

“[F.G. Mellersh, captain of the College team] mentioned that in the last mile or so there were ten water jumps.  They looked innocent enough on paper, and only a few enquiries were made about them, such as whether they could be jumped, and on hearing not all could, as to whether it were best to jump as far as possible and wade the rest.  Wade indeed!!”

This was no exaggeration.  In the event:

“The seventh of these jumps was tidal and was about fifteen feet wide.  Sheppard and Churchill [both SLH runners] deflected slightly from the right course … landed in the middle, up to their necks, and nearly had to swim to the opposite bank, where a fine crowd was gathered, very reminiscent of where everybody collects in the Steeplechase at the Championships.  Why are others’ misfortune so interesting?”

No ditches in 2013, but plenty of mud on a wet, grey day, windy as it had been a century earlier.  The natural beauty of the point to point course attracted many favourable remarks from the Irrepressibles running it for the first time, as it must have done throughout the century.

Due to the clash with the Surrey League our team was not as strong as we would have liked, and we were unable to match the Sevenoaks team who took the first 3 places; but we were pleased to come 2nd.  The Ladies were scored separately, but as the only other team, Ardingly, could only manage 3 runners, we were declared winners.

Our hosts generously marked the centenary of the occasion by baking a cake in the design of the SLH badge, which we enjoyed with fish fingers, chips and beans in the chapel afterwards.  Francis Upcott made a special trophy presentation to Ben Pugh who was the first Lancing pupil to finish the race.  The West Sussex Gazette published a report commemorating the race too, under the headline “The longest cross country run ever…”

It was another very enjoyable day there.  Many thanks as always to Lancing College, especially Nigel Brookes who runs their cross country club.

In fact, this fixture has been a successful event from the outset.  The conclusion of the 1913 Gazette report includes a comment that it was “one of the most enjoyable events we have ever had.”

On the SLH website forum after the 2013 race, Tim Cooke said “this was my favourite of all the races I've attended over the past year.”

Some things never change.  Here’s to another 100 years.

Ben Hieatt-Smith and Francis Upcott