If Saturday’s Freshers’ Fun Run is anything to go by, the Hare and Hounds look in good shape to follow a repeat. Despite the departure of various key runners such as Robin Brown and Alex Young, it was clear that improvement within the squad had been supplemented by a strong new intake.
Pre-race favourite Alex Short successfully defended his title having won the race as a first year. Short’s outlook was positive on both an individual and team level, despite having had the latter part of his cross-country season blighted somewhat by injury: “The race was in perfect conditions and I felt very strong which was pleasing, with it still being such an early stage of the season. To have that kind of depth… really bodes well for Varsity.”
Captain Matt Leach, who did not run, emphasised the high quality of the race despite the absence of several Blues contenders: “It was good to see some fantastic performances from freshers and old faces alike … we’re in good shape for Varsity at the end of term. It was particularly pleasing to see several freshers up near the front.â€
The race was a great display of strength and depth of the squad, which gives them hope for the upcoming Varsity Match
In the women’s race, Polly Keen, having had a track season that led her to the British World Athletics Championships Trials for the steeplechase, won in dominant fashion, followed by Bex Taylor.
Perhaps the most exciting moment of the day was the sprint finish between Katy Hedgethorne and Chloe Beckett, with Hedgethorne just edging into third place. A similar battle took place between former captain James Chettle and Josh Carr for fourth in the men’s race. The women’s team has surely been aided by the arrival of two talented freshers Lauren Major and Rosie Talbot, finishing fifth and sixth respectively.
The fact that twenty-one women ran under 11 minutes for the 2.7km course and twenty-five men ran under 17 minutes for just under 5km shows the incredible strength and depth of the squad that the Hare and Hounds have at their disposal for the Varsity match against Oxford at the end of term, whilst competition for places on the selected teams will be fierce at the final selection race, Cuppers on 16th November.