Best mate runners qualify for national championships – in a dead heat

By David Prior at

Best friends can be hard to separate, but over a 1,500 metres race to qualify for the English National Schools Championships, you might expect a hair’s breadth at least.

But Loreto Grammar School’s brilliant middle distance runners Claudia Cowan and Beth Barlow finished in a dead heat to qualify for the championships in Birmingham this weekend, both recording 4 minutes 35.5 seconds exactly.

Claudia, 17, who runs for Sale Harriers, said: “We weren’t holding hands over the line or anything like that, both of us wanted to win. We’re great friends and have been in the same classes for last six years.”

Loreto runners Claudia Cowan (left) and Beth Barlow

Beth Barlow, 17, who also runs for Salford Harriers and is a former under-14 national 1,500-metre champion, agreed: “I wouldn’t say it was a fierce rivalry more of a friendly rivalry and certainly Loreto’s sports days are always really competitive, but put it this way neither of us would have wanted to lose.”

The girls will have another opportunity to compete not just against each other but the cream of young English talent in Birmingham this weekend in what is remarkably the fourth largest athletics meeting anywhere in the word.

Their similarities don’t stop with their superb running, with both girls each getting a magnificent nine A*s and one A in the GCSEs though Claudia wants to read Law at university and Beth Medicine.

Loreto Grammar School’s head of PE, Catherine Ball, said: “To have one runner qualify for the English Schools’ Championships is remarkable, two is simply astonishing and owes much to their dedication, hard-work and yes friendly rivalry over the years.”