Background to the courses
The courses are in Knole Park and will be clearly marked on the day. The courses have been designed to make full use of the wealth of good running within Knole Park as well as avoiding conflict with other park users. Both boys and girls courses are on soft grass and woodland trails, which with the inclusion of significant hills and tight turns offers a true test of cross country running. The courses are also designed to be similar (albeit shorter in length) to the Senior Knole Run courses which are contested in January, and onto which we hope that many of the junior runners competing today will progress in subsequent years.
The courses are a mixture of hill and flat, grass, woodland and metalled tracks; sections are likely to be muddy and/or stony. We will route short sections of the course over the metalled tracks in Knole Park, especially the uphill and downhill parts - this is particularly in view of the likely conditions underfoot and the age of the runners. There are grass verges alongside these tracks, though these are narrow; moulded‑sole boots are therefore likely to be the ideal footwear. Failing this, studs or spikes are recommended for both boys and girls, especially if wet, and care should be taken on the steeper sections.
The Girls' Course
The girls’ course is measures around 2,600m (1.6 miles) and includes one significant hill. The start is in the valley known as ‘The Spur’, and the slightly downhill initial 400m is followed by a sweeping right-hand bend bringing the runners into the ‘Long Valley’. A further 300m up this and the course veers right and up the course’s major hill as it ascends up into the woodland to the side of the long valley. It seems to go on for ever, but eventually relents with a left turn onto some flatter ground in the woods at the top. A narrow, twisting section through woodland brings the runners to a steep downhill and a sharp turn to the left as they reach the floor of the valley once more, albeit now heading north rather than south. There is now a fast, stretch of around a kilometre into the finish, all slightly downhill, but energy-sapping nonetheless.
The Boys' Course
The boys’ course follows the same route as the girls until around 400m before their finish, but then adds an additional loop of around 800 metres including a significant additional hill, which makes this a real test of strength and stamina. In total, the course is 3,440m long (around 2.1 miles); on the long side for this age group, but not excessively so. At the foot of the second hill known as ‘The Shute’, the boys turn right and ascend it. Never excessively steep, it nonetheless feels very tough after around a mile and half of hard running. At the top of this, they turn left and have the blessed relief of a gentle downhill section running parallel to the wall of Knole House. Sharp left, and then right turns, deposit runners once more onto the valley floor, with a final 200m to run into the finish. The route offers some excellent opportunities for spectating, with a position on the floor of the long valley close to the foot of ‘The Shute’ offering the potential to see each runner three times during the course of the race.