Chariots of Fire Relays 2004

The Chariots of Fire - a relay through the streets of Cambridge; 6 laps, 1.7 miles per lap, 6 runners. Would the CUH&H be victorious as per usual? To quote a certain Captain; “guaranteed”. To say that confidence was high in the run up to CoF would be an understatement. Fancy dress was mooted, gowns even! And then there was the talk of potential “egg on face”. So what happened?

Everyone turned up early (surprisingly) on the morning of CoF, ready to win. Again; guaranteed. In order to take their minds off the race, certain members of the women’s team argued over what colour number they wanted, almost coming to blows. Meanwhile, the first runners, Ed Brady and Julia Bleasdale, wandered over to the start early, giving the warm-up aerobics area a very wide berth indeed. Following some “jokes”, the guest starter and comic legend, Eddie Large, impersonated an air horn to get the race started. Unconventional race, unconventional start…Ed and Jules were off, disappearing in a flash of light blue.

A while later, Rob Harris and “Super” Sophie Wood waited nervously for the first changeovers. The PA system announced that the first runner was approaching. Then he appeared into view…not wearing a light blue vest. Uh-oh. Hunts AC had completed the first leg in less than 7’ 30 s. Unbelievable, and not entirely comforting for CUH&H. Ed handed over to Rob in 4th, with Jules, who had been hot on the heels of Ed, handing over to Sophie only a few seconds behind and recording the second fastest Haries time of the day in her last race for the club. Despite still suffering from Mr Large’s pre-race onslaught, Rob managed to claw back a place, and handed over to José “the Matador” Prieto, who took the bull by the horns and thundered off. Sophie proved that she’s not just a legend over 26.2 miles and passed the baton to Alice Tozer, keen to stay in the top teams.

José gained another place and handed over to the man with the shortest shorts in town, Andy Bell (Andy, Andy Bell) in 2nd place. Even with his blond bouffant providing considerable air resistance, Andy shot round the course, to pass onto Alex “Tosh” McIntosh in 2nd place still. After a sterling leg from Alice, women’s Captain Lucy (sporting a very fetching pink number, much to Claire’s jealousy) continued the charge.

All the while, Hunts AC had been extending their lead, which was now nearing two minutes. Tosh had made good time as he handed over to the Captain; Ben “guaranteed” Hope, who didn’t appear to be enjoying the day as much as he might have anticipated, and glad that his gown was still hanging in his wardrobe. As Ben ran off up Silver Street, from somewhere a shout of “do you want them fried or boiled?” was heard. Lucy handed over the women’s baton to another CUH&H legend in her last race for the club, Karen Ellison.

Not even the pace of Captain Hope could clinch a victory for the men. Hunts AC had stuffed everyone with a winning time of 50’ 53 s, setting a new course record, and putting CUH&H, with 53’ 29 s, firmly in second place (although still two minutes ahead of third place). The men’s team, slightly bewildered, turned to Captain Hope, wiping a certain farm produce off his unimpressed face (he’d controversially gone for scrambled, by the way). How had CUH&H been beaten? Who was in the winning team? Will Andy Bell be able to father children, after those shorts?

The women’s team, however, had a much happier story. Karen handed over to Claire Willer for the final leg, who then gave a lesson in finishing off a race in style. The commentator of the race, so impressed with the performance that he failed to notice neither the anatomical similarities within the teams, nor the differences between them, announced that “some of the ‘B’ team will be looking for places in next year’s ‘A’ team”… surgery pending, obviously. The women had finished fastest all-female team, 10th overall, minutes clear of the next women’s team, and were rightly jubilant.

Then the murmuring started. “What was that? One of the winning team members had run twice? Are you sure?”, “Oh yes, definitely.” A query was raised with the race authorities, and it was agreed that Hunts AC had only had 5 runners, when the rules stipulate 6 are to race. Oh dear! The Hunts AC boys were promptly disqualified, and the real winners were announced; Cambridge University Hare and Hounds. Again.

The medals and trophies were picked up by Ed, José, Lucy and Claire, surrounded by a number of people in chicken suits (possibly providing the eggs worn earlier by Captain Hope); the other runners disappearing to prepare for training camp. It had been another good day for CUH&H with the sun shining on the right places, yet again. The Hunts boys accepted their disqualification honourably, vowing to return next year and seek revenge. Could be an interesting one…but for the time being, CUH&H maintain their flawless record in the Chariots of Fire relays.

Rob Harris.