FOUR siblings from Kendal have qualified to represent Cumbria in the Schools' Cross-Country to take place in mid March.

Twins Oliver and Sarah Smith. both 12, and big brothers Ben, 13, and Jacob, 15, will join other talented young runners to represent their county against the best juniors from schools across England.

To be chosen to run for Cumbria at the championships, each of the four had to battle through three qualifying races, with a challenging XC course at Cartmel being the venue for the first two. The last qualifying round took place in wintery conditions at the Northern Schools' Intercounties XC Championships in February at Barnard Castle.

All siblings ran well at Barnard Castle to secure them a place in the Cumbria squad with Jacob being first Cumbrian runner home in the year 10/11 race finishing in 19th place overall. Sarah won all of her qualifying races and had another superb run at Barnard Castle, finishing first in the year 7 girls race ahead of more than fifty other girls from schools in the North of England.

All four children run competitively at weekends, representing their local clubs Helm Hill for fell races and Kendal AAC for cross country, track and field. For the Schools' Cross Country Championships, they will swap their usual Helm or Kendal running vests for the Cumbria Schools' XC kit of light and dark blue.

Sarah, Oliver and Jacob attend Kirkbie Kendal School while Ben is a pupil at The Queen Katherine School.

Mum Jo Pennington said: "I am so proud of them all. They have trained incredibly hard to get to this position.

"They are so supportive of each other and get along well. We are lucky to have brilliant training provided by both Helm and Kendal AAC coaches with Steve Priestley at Kendal providing particular inspiration.

"Both Kirkbie Kendal School and Queen Katherine School and the children's PE teachers are also very supportive."

There is a large contingent of local talent across the age groups this year with several South Lakes schools providing children for the Cumbria squad. The team will take twelve boys and twelve girls for the year 7 races and eight boys and eight girls for each of the year 8-9, 9-10, 10-11 and 12-13 age categories.

Jacob and Ben will run at the Championships in Leeds on March 17 and Sarah and Oliver at the National Schools XC Finals at Prestwold Hall in Leicestershire on 24th March (years 5-7).