Saturday November 8th saw the Hare and Hounds head to Stevenage to race in the Met League, one of the most fiercely competitive cross-country leagues in the country. Although the team were officially entered as guests and therefore couldn’t count towards the main team competition, the club have used the event as a selection race for Varsity at the end of term.
The men’s and women’s courses – 8km and 6km respectively – largely undulated across grass with narrow wooded paths ending each lap, and a flurry of rain before the start of the races ensured the ground was sufficiently soft underfoot.
In the women’s event, Liz Mooney held onto a third place position for the majority of the race, finishing in a time of 22:07 and beating a former National cross-country winner in the process. She was followed closely by Katy Hedgethorne (22:40), Sarah Lovewell (22:50) and Tas Pope (22:52) in 8th, 11th and 13th, impressively clustered at the top end of the race in a large field of 188 runners.
In the men’s ex-captain Matt Leach returned to light blue colours to storm home in 9th place, finishing as the highest placed Cambridge runner in a time of 25:59, closely followed by Alex Short (26:17) in 10th. Alex Milne (26:44) and Kelvin Gomez (26:58), both new to the club this year, finished highly respectable 15th and 19th places in an immensely competitive field. Predictions suggest that, had the men’s team not been running as guests, they would have finished as the first placed team.
But what was perhaps more heartening for the club was the strength in depth displayed in both races – a vital factor with the Varsity matches only a few weeks away. The attentions of the Hare and Hounds now turns to the inter-club Cuppers race in Wandlebury on Saturday, where runners will have a last opportunity to claim team places against Oxford.