BUCS: just outside medal positions again

en310 | Thursday, January 2nd, 2014

Cambridge men’s A team – 5th place

Cambridge women’s team – 5th place

Cambridge men’s B team – 8th place

Some outstanding and gutsy runs were had by the Hare and Hounds in Stirling last weekend, as the Cambridge cross country runners took on the universities of Britain on an unrelentingly hilly and muddy course. Committing to a lengthy journey and a full weekend out of Cambridge, the Hare and Hounds this year produced forty-eight runners to battle it out against fifty other similarly sized university teams. And they certainly made the journey worth their while. Despite adverse weather conditions, brutal terrain and a colossal field of competitors in each of the races, the Hares and Hounds truly put Cambridge on the running map.

In the women’s race, some incredible performances were put in to bring the team into an overall position of fifth place. Scoring for the team were Liz Mooney, Holly Page and Alison Greggor – each of whom ran absolutely outstandingly throughout the 6.4 kilometre course. Finishing in 25th place in a field of 400, Greggor illustrated her continuing good form, and made it to the finish line just two seconds behind Page, who finished in 24th place in a swift time of 24:04. New to Cambridge this year, Page has proved to be an indispensable member of the Cambridge team; having run alongside both Greggor and Mooney at the Varsity match, and contributing to another Cambridge win over Oxford. Perhaps the most impressive performance of the day, however, was that of Liz Mooney – a fresher at Cambridge who has gone from strength to strength throughout her first year here. Finishing in 18th place in a time of 23:46, Mooney was on incredible form and earned herself a full Cambridge Blue.

In the rest of the women’s team, amazing races were also run by ladies’ captain Megan Wilson, who bettered her performance at BUCS last year by nearly fifty places, to finish in 81st place in a time of 25:51. Also impressive was the performance of Sarah Lovewell, who despite being far more at home on the athletics track, ran exceedingly well to finish in the top 100 – in 96th place. Having illustrated excellent form in training recently, Lovewell is certainly one to watch in the coming athletics season. Julia Wedmore and Abblie Shepherd-Barron also made striking performances in Stirling, with Wedmore working hard to bring home 116th place – exactly the position she made last year – and Shepherd-Barron in 134th illustrating an excellent return to form at precisely the right moment. The girls certainly gave their all at BUCS this year.

In the men’s A race, which consisted of a 11.1km course, the Cambridge team finished fifth behind St Mary’s, Birmingham, Cardiff and Leeds, and was only nine places away from taking a medal. They also managed to beat almost fifty institutions including Loughborough and perhaps even more importantly Oxford. The final results suggest that for Cambridge this race was very much an exercise in working in pairs. Captain Matt Leach seemed determined to keep within striking distance of the front pack within the early stages of the race, whilst Alex Short was never too far away and had a strong finish to finish two places in front of Leach in 12th place. Also with only two places separating third and fourth Cambridge runners Joe Christopher and Will Ryle-Hodges in 40th and 42nd respectively worked well together throughout most of the race. No much further back was former captain James Chettle who finished 64th in a characteristically well-paced race which saw him continually gain places as the race went on – something which Hare and Hounds have come to expect and admire, much like Ryle-Hodges’ fast sprint finishes that was only just beaten in the battle for 41st. In yet another solid race James Hoad finished within nine seconds of Chettle, proving yet again that there Hare and Hounds should be excited for the London Marathon in April with its stellar field including Chettle and Hoad.

The last race of the day was arguably the highest standard B team race for some time, but a good turnout from the Light Blues was rewarded with an eighth place finish that also meant that Cambridge were only beaten by three other universities. With a little bit of a mishap at the beginning of the race concerning the starter, the start was as fast as was expected, with the field being strung out quickly. Solid runs from freshers Phil Crout and Paddy Roddy followed very shortly by Pete Townsend saw Cambridge take 21st, 23rd and 24th respectively, with Townsend holding off a pack behind him to hold onto his position in the final 100m. Around 40s further back in the field Josh Carr ran a strong race, alone towards the end, with Lloyd Hilton continuing his encouraging cross-country season only two places behind in 49th. Lorcan Murphy continued his form from recent races to finish just outside of the top 60, whilst he was followed by the track trio of Petros Giannaros who followed up his strong South of England cross-country showing to lead in Richard Ollington and Mark Nelson. Will Kirk and Ollie Maskell eventually finished a mere second apart whilst a little further back Will Bowers took to the mud in his ‘home’ BUCS race to place a mere position outside the top 100, with Pete Cameron no far behind. Showing the Light Blues strength of depth were Francis Scarr, Paul Hodgson and Matt Duffin who finished within the top 150, and Ed Gazeley’s finish in 235th position beating more than a hundred runners illustrated that not only did the Light Blues bring quantity but also quality to BUCS this year. You could almost say that the Light Blues were worth their weight in Stirling.