Exercise is not just about being fast or fit, it is also about a feeling of accomplishment, and benefits everyone, whatever the skills, age, shape or pace. Without the normal planned fixtures to join team sports on the pitches over these past lockdowns, Oundelians found other opportunities to stay fit, have fun and clear the mental fug from screen use, joining their friends in walking, cycling and running communities that challenged and celebrated each other’s progress. In the process, they collectively tread and cycled an astounding amount of mileage.

St Anthony swapped their biennial fundraising dinner for a challenge that saw all the pupils and Tutors walk or cycle the distance to Albi in the South of France, home of their House Imp emblem, which features on the sign outside the Hostellerie St Antoine. In fact, they went further than their target, covering 867 miles in three weeks, and in the process raised £3240 for the Bhubesi Pride Foundation. Head of House, Ben Clayden managed to run 99 miles.

Both Kirkeby and Laundimer covered the distance from Land’s End to John O’Groats. Kirkeby Tutors, pupils and parents either ran, walked or cycled to 837 miles and raised £700 for the Marafiki Trust in Kenya.

Laundimer’s charity run across the country to John O’Groats took a circuitous route through every UK town where a Laundimer boy lives, and covered 1944 long miles. Jimmy Milne was presented with the Challenge Cup after completing 99 miles. The House raised £300 for Male Cancer Awareness, which they have been associated with for many years.

Following on from the success of the Sanderson Marathon last summer, Lucy Thacker Martin proposed a ‘Sando Walk’. Over fifty Sanderson staff, pupils and families stepped away from work screens and went out for a “communal” Sunday afternoon walk, and the scenic photos from all around the world reflected the pleasure of walking.

Izzy Wilson (Sn) took on a unique personal challenge, cycling 48km for 15 days to fundraise for heart disease research. Her mum had spent 48 hours in ICU and 15 days at Royal Papworth Hospital after a heart attack on Christmas Eve and Izzy wanted to show her gratitude for her mum’s excellent care. The response to her challenge was overwhelming, and even prompted an interview with BBC Radio. She exceeded her initial target and raised over £9,000.

In the Sports department, Simon Eldridge organised energising Family Weekend Challenges that attracted participation from 516 families who posted 1242 entries in four challenges: 1m run; 3km run; 5km run; plank challenge. For the data crunchers, the three distance challenges covered 1,812 miles, while the total time spent in the plank position was 7hrs, 44min, 58sec.

The Oundle Running Club has grown to nearly 80 members in all corners of the UK, and also Switzerland, France, Hong Kong, Monaco, Russia, and Kenya. During the lockdown the club covered 750km in the first week, which increased week after week and culminated in 3221km after four weeks. Back at School and normal routines, pupils and staff still managed 485km between them.

Beyond School, notable challenges were also taken up by Old Oundelians, who continue to impress with their generosity and initiative.

Jack Ireson (L 15), Jack Krempel (StA 18), Toby Learoyd (F 18) and Peter Langsdale (L 18) each ran 5km every two hours for 24 hours to raise £5000 for Oundle Mencap, the week-long summer residential holiday camp that is staffed by volunteer pupils and OOs.

Will Hudson (L 12) ran 33.3km a day for 30 days (999km in total) to raise awareness and funds for two charities, Help Refugees and Crisis. 33.3km is the width of the Dover Straits at its shortest point, and is the distance of the dangerous crossing familiar to many refugees who seek safety in the United Kingdom. He raised nearly £20,000.