MORE than 1,100 children laced up their running shoes to take part in an annual cross country event.

Despite the bitter winter weather, pupils from 43 primary schools across the city gathered at Waterhall playing fields to compete for the top spot at the Brighton and Hove Primary Schools Cross Country.

There were four races on the day, with Year 5 boys, Year 5 girls, Year 6 boys and Year 6 girls events each hotly contested by hundreds of runners.

The aspiring athletes were tasked with making their way around a challenging two kilometre course, with those taking the top spots earning the right to represent Brighton and Hove at the Sussex School Games finals in April.

The Year 5 boys’ race was won by Louie Pegley from St John the Baptist Primary School followed by his fellow classmate Harry Munzinger Ray.

Elliot Marni from Aldrington CE Primary School finished in third.

Katherine Haslip of Cottesmore St Mary Catholic Primary School took the title of fastest Year 5 girl.

She was followed by Izzy Owen from Hove Junior School and Keren Ncho from St Nicolas CE Primary School.

The Year 6 boys race was won by Raffaele Barra from St Paul’s Primary School, closely followed by Ethan Ingram from Peter Gladwin School.

Raphell Kelly from St Bernadette’s took third place.

But the Year 6 girls race saw an impressive clean sweep for Cottesmore St Mary Catholic Primary School with runners from the institution securing all three top spots.

Maggie Macintosh finished first, with Emily Chesterfield and Ellouise Tarleton claiming second and third position respectively.

Laura Porter, teacher at Balfour Primary School, said: “The cross country is a great event as it gets so many children motivated and enthused by running.

“We have so many opportunities both in and outside of school to get children running like the daily mile and the junior park runs”.

These winners will compete in the Sussex School Games finals, which have been described as a “mini Olympics”.

The event will see the top young athletes from around the county represent their towns and cities in a series of sporting challenges.