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Wednesday, May 22, 2024
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Cross Country: Mud, grit and determination

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On your marks! PHOTO: Sydney Catholic Schools

Over 2500 students navigated a mud-slicked course at Sydney Catholic Schools’ first large-scale Cross Country, their eyes firmly on the prize – a berth at the MacKillop Championships.

The first athlete over the muddy line, Harper Surjan from Holy Spirit Catholic Primary School in Carnes Hill, described the course as “wet and slippery.”

He completed the 12/13 Years Boys 3km race in 13 minutes and 57 seconds at Sydney Catholic Schools’ (SCS) first combined Cross Country Carnival at Sydney Motorsport Park, Eastern Creek.

Battling it out! PHOTO: Sydney Catholic Schools

SCS has never before held an event of this magnitude, and SCS’ Executive Director, Tony Farley, said it was the first of many more to come.

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“It’s important to recognise that this large-scale combined event marks the start of rolling-out combined sport all across the Archdiocese of Sydney and placing Sydney Catholic Schools at the forefront of sporting achievement and success,” Mr Farley said.

“The setup is just magnificent” – Trevor Wiseman OAM


Spotted mingling in the crowd was Trevor Wiseman, who has a long history within School Sport Australia and is currently the National Cross Country Advisor.

“Today’s been great – I’m impressed,” said Mr Wiseman who, in 2019, was awarded a Life Membership of School Sport Australia for outstanding contribution and service to school sport in Australia.

“Whether you’re behind the windows (in the race control rooms) or in the grandstand, you can see what’s happening,” said Mr Wiseman.

SCS’ Director Education and Research, Dr Kate O’Brien, said: “It’s just an extraordinary opportunity for young boys and girls to participate in sport.”

“Their determination to run the distance is quite extraordinary,” Dr O’Brien added.

“Congratulations to all participants!” – Dr Kate O’Brien


The top four athletes from each race will progress to the MacKillop Cross Country Championships on Tuesday 8 June, also to be held at Sydney Motorsport Park.

Another of the athletes moving along SCS’ representative sports pathway is Carla Bragg, from St Kevin’s Catholic Primary School Eastwood, who crossed the line in first place in the 12/13 Years Girls 3km event.

“It was a tough race, especially the gravel at the end; it’s pretty tough to run in,” said an out-of-breath Carla.

When asked about her race strategy, Carla said it was important to “Just keep a good pace throughout the race.”


Athletes from 115 Sydney Catholic primary schools, including five congregational schools, competed in:

  • 8/9 years – 2km
  • 10 years – 2km
  • 11 years – 3km
  • 12/13 years – 3km
  • Athletes in Multi Class events (students with Disability-SWD) – 2km (all ages)
On the home stretch! PHOTO: Sydney Catholic Schools


There were two courses: A two-kilometre course for eight, nine and 10 year-olds; and a three-kilometre course for 11, 12 and 13 year-olds.

Most of the track involved grass running, with some crossovers onto asphalt. The 2km course was relatively flat. The more challenging 3km course contained some hills.

Bringing it home PHOTO: Sydney Catholic Schools

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