Grantchester Meadows 2004

The Hare & Hounds staged their second cross-country league fixture last Sunday, in the form of this year's "Grantchester Meadows" race... held, unsurprisingly, around Grantchester meadows. With a 50% rise in attendance relative to 2003 (again!) and over 120 runners from 23 colleges taking part, the fields of South-west Cambridge were positively buzzing with athletic exuberance as the event got underway.

Many of those competing had actually just returned from a training session (the ominously titled "long run"), and seemed keen to break the pain barrier with a rather inappropriate 'tempo' warm-down. Much respect to them. Others were flying the flag of college pride, eager to lift their team up the rankings, whilst some may even have been running for the joy of exercise itself.

After a bit of megaphone action from Club Captain Ben Hope, the ladies' race was started at 2pm... and within minutes Claire Willer (Robinson) had opened up an impressive - nay, unassailable - lead. Pulling further and further away over the 3km course, Claire destroyed last year's winning time by over 20 seconds, with a remarkable 10:26, and was followed by fellow Robinson superstar Alice Tozer (10:48) to bag a college 1-2. Just behind the leaders was Joan Lasenby (Trinity), who clocked a time of 10:49. Newnham were looking strong too, with Catherine Hanna and Lucy Cundliffe (C.U.H.&H. Ladies' Captain) crossing the line in 4th and 5th respectively. Unfortunately, their team was lacking a third member and suffered in the college stakes as a result.

The men's race saw fresher legends Paolo Natali, Will George and Rich Ward take positions 1, 2 and 3 respectively. Paolo deserves special mention for two reasons: firstly, he is currently undefeated over ALL races this term, both in the college league and for the University; secondly, he ran the whole of Grantchester Meadows sporting a ludicrous afro wig (inset). Sadly Mr. Natali was the only representative of Christ's on Sunday afternoon, which shunted them into a mediocre 11th position in the 2nd Division despite the individual victory.

Pembroke, however, seemed to have learnt from their mistakes at the Freshers' Fun Run and managed to field a frankly outstanding team of six runners. Richard Ward (3rd) was backed up by college captain Ed Brady (4th), Dan Chambers (18th) and James Traer (30th) to spearhead a total domination of the competition. Finishing a solid 24 points ahead of defending champions Queens', this team looks set to take Cuppers by storm on 20th November... they may yet present a challenge for the league itself, but will require a season of faultless victories - and perhaps a bit of luck - to make up for the Fun Run calamity.

In the second division, current table-toppers Tit Hall were let down by a lack of runners, and their sole entrant suffered an uncomfortable race after colliding with one of the gates early on. St. Catharine's combined quality with quantity to win the event, whilst Wolfson cruised into second place, led by speed-merchant Ulrich Paquet (8th). Local secondary ed. competitors the Perse School battled fiercely once again, with good runs from Henry Clark and Alex Hunt (37th and 38th respectively). We even had two rather zealous members of the public getting involved - clearly the Hype of Cambridge cross-country is spreading outside the university and into new domains!

In spite of all the mud, sweat, tears, blood and general agony we associate with long-distance running, Sunday's competition was a truly enjoyable race and a great success for the Hare & Hounds. Many thanks to Ben Hope, Alice Tozer and their marshalling army for making it possible, and to Catharine Wood and James Hyde for sorting out all the results. League sponsors Sweatshop provided race numbers and funding in the build-up to the event.

See also the results .

by Andy Bell