School Games 2018 by Grace Cook

This summer I qualified for a place in the North of England Laser Run team for the School Games Finals. The School Games Finals were held at Loughborough University at the end of August and included sports such as hockey, cricket, cycling, netball and, for the first time, Laser Run. This is my team of under 16 girls.

In Laser Run you start a race with a short run to the range.  Then you have to shoot and once you get five green lights you can run your lap before shooting again. Shooting distance, run length and number of laps all depends on your age and the type of competition it is but at the School Games I shot at 5 metres distance and ran 400 metres, repeated it twice and finished at the end of the third lap. The leader can change constantly because you might be a really fast runner but struggle to shoot well if you’re out of breath and you can never guess what might happen. It’s fast-paced and exciting to watch.

Our team of 20 traveled together with our coaches, arriving on Thursday afternoon. We were shown to our accommodation in the halls of residence and collected our team kit. It was just like being in the athletes’ village at a big championship with an athletes’ lounge and mentor talks from Olympic athletes. This is our full under 16 team in the photo on the right. Everyone trained and competed really hard but we still managed to have a lot of fun and I made a lot of new friends.

We did our individual racing on Friday. There were four races – under 14 boys, then girls and then under 16 boys and my race, under 16 girls. Before our race we warmed up for running. We were then called over to the range to begin our 10 minute shooting warm up and be issued with our race numbers. The head of the range called us over to the start line and gave us our safety briefing. Next the race began and I finished in ninth place, getting a big personal best, 5 minutes, 27 seconds. Later that night we had a big outdoor celebration concert and I got to meet Dame Katherine Grainger, Britain’s most successful female Olympic rower, in person.

On the Saturday we had the relays, it was a mixed relay with one boy and one girl doing 2 laps each. The younger ones went off first and then it was our turn, the girls ran first and the boys second. My partner and I came twelfth in a time of 7 minutes, 7 seconds. After the relays it was time to head home. I had an amazing time and gained loads of big competition experience. If you get a chance to try Laser Run then go for it.

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