The Hare and Hounds waged war last week against the RAF and Eastern Counties, in a cross country match that did not fail to deliver the excitement it had promised. Undeterred by the overcast morning, the formidable RAF side, or indeed the harrowing thought of missing Saturday morning lectures, the Cambridge cross country runners arrived en masse at Priory Park, St Neots last Saturday. In fact, with a burst of autumnal sunshine and a varied course of open field and forest, the runners were rewarded with idyllic cross country conditions.
The first to scale the course were the ladies, who completed two laps of the undulating and leafy circuit of Priory Park to total five kilometres.
The girls of the Hare and Hounds put up an impressive fight. First to finish was Cambridge’s ever exceptional Alison Greggor, who dipped under 18 minutes with a time of 17mins 59sec. Greggor ran an evenly paced and strong race, and glided to the finish line with more than a 10 second lead. With two easy wins this term now under her belt, the former Varsity champion looks to be on good form.
Equally impressive this week was the performance of Liz Mooney – a first year at Newnham, who cemented her fourth place finish at Fen Ditton last week with a similarly speedy fourth place at St Neots. The second Cambridge lady to finish, Mooney ran a well-judged, smart race, and finished in 18mins 32sec, just three seconds behind the third place finisher.
Whilst Mooney and Greggor demonstrated the depth of the club members’ talents, the other Hare and Hounds ladies certainly showed its breadth. With Lauren Major, Katy Hedgethorne, Alice Feslier-Holmes, Chloe Beckett and Jane Thomas jostling for position throughout the race, the Hare and Hounds were able to claim the consecutive places of eighth through to twelfth. Alongside the work of all of the Cambridge ladies, gaining these places led the women of the Hare and Hounds to victory over the RAF and Eastern Counties.
Meanwhile, the Hare and Hounds men were less successful. Facing a fierce field of Eastern Counties athletes, the Cambridge boys fought valiantly to finish second in the team standings, behind the Eastern Counties but in front of the RAF.
The standout male runner of the day was Alex Short, who claimed second place in a field of 57 and completed the 7.5 kilometre course in a speedy 23mins 2sec. From the start of the race, Short was locked in a ferocious battle for first place with Eastern County runner Neilson Hall. Despite being in close contention for much of the race, Hall’s fast finish ultimately got the better of Cambridge Blues runner Short.
Similarly gutsy runs were demonstrated by Will Ryle-Hodges and Sean Pohorence, who were the second and third Cambridge runners home respectively, claiming overall positions of ninth and tenth. Although they began the race amidst a group of strong Hare and Hounds runners, it was Ryle-Hodges and Pohorence who came through, with just two seconds between them, to claim valuable points for the club.
Whilst hopes of ultimate glory were slightly dashed this week by an unexpectedly strong cohort of male Eastern Counties runners, the overall shape of the Hare and Hounds is not to be undermined. Both the women and the men demonstrated strength as individuals and as a team.
As the first Varsity selection race looms ever closer, the Hare and Hounds are sure to be found in the next few weeks consolidating these early cross country performances with relentless training sessions. In two weeks, the Hare and Hounds will return to take on the Met League.