Mob match 2004

WITHIN THE university cross-country club there is a strange phenomenon known as “Hare and Hounds time”. One may think that our nimble frames and swift feet would keep us punctual. But alas, it is not so. At last Saturday’s “Mob Match” fixture, we thought we had it cussed. The coach pulled promptly away from the side of Queens Road at 10.30am, four and a half hours before the start of the race. After a missed turn and a wonderful yet pointless tour around South London, we were still on the road four hours later. So true to our unpunctual nature, we arrived at Wimbledon common at 2:45pm.

As we piled off the coach, we were greeted by a unique crew. No, not Uncle Bulgaria and friends but members of ‘Thames Hare and Hounds’, the oldest cross-country club in the world. They were today’s hosts and fellow competitors. After postponing the start by 15 minutes, the mob was finally released at 3:15pm, with just enough daylight remaining for the men to complete their 12km course.

The wide, grassy start of the course quickly funneled into a woodland trail, along which most of the course is run. Forced into single file, it provided the first opportunity for the frontrunners to assert their lead and breakaway from the main pack. In hot pursuit, the rest of the “mob” scampered along behind, following the black arrows marking out the course.

As the runners passed the windmill for the first time the men and women diverged. The marshall at this waypoint was thoroughly confused as Julia Bleasdale, former student and Blues runner decided not to heed his directions but carry on in the men’s race! Robinson superstar Claire Willer was the next lady to hit the junction and headed onto the women’s course. Bounding not far behind was marathon heroine Sophie Wood. Willer maintained her lead to finish just 16 seconds ahead of Wood, keeping up her unbeaten run so far this season.

3rd and 4th were Emma Pooley and Alice Tozer respectively. Tozer, continuing her massive resurgence of form finished just 6 seconds behind the experienced Pooley. 15 minutes later, the men burst out of the woods and onto the same 400m grassy home straight. First out of the woods was the bearded, 2003 blues athlete Corin Hughes, making a guest appearance against his former club. Fresher superstar Paolo Natali was next to emerge. With Hughes’ half a minute lead now unassailable, previously undefeated Natali had to satisfy himself with second position and a time of 38:54.

With Cambridge bringing home the next four athletes and two more inside the top ten, a resounding victory was had. Special mention has to go to fresher Will George who beat captain Ben Hope to take 4th position and reinforce his case for blue’s team selection. John Solly, whose rapid rise to fitness has been incredible, finished 10th place, 2.5 minutes faster than his time on the same course last year. Completing a field of over 60 athletes, the last men came in just as the remaining glimmers of light were about to fade.

See also the results .

~Matt Sims