Roman Road Run 2005 Report

On March 19th, the small village of Horseheath witnessed the gathering of over two score of runners for the longest -and last- race in the CUH&H cross country season. The majority heralded from Cambridge, but we were joined in the 9.5 mile scamper by three of Oxford's top athletes and members of the Thames Hare and Hounds, Cheshire Tally Ho, and Cambridge and Coleridge. We were also glad to welcome back several old members of the club - in particular Ellen Leggate and Karen Ellison, who took the top two women's places.

The course itself was very simple: one straight Roman road all the way; a grassy track framed by gorgeous, old trees trees and a clear, blue sky, with only the occasional small hill, and one or two interruptions by real roads with real traffic. However, Claire Day and Leika Gooneratne still managed to get lost, missing the bridge over the main road. Day, who came in third, blames this misadventure on her excessive speed. Because of the length of the course, runners started off in four groups, spaced at 10 minute intervals to make sure that all finished at more or less the same time. This worked well: the fastest runners in the fourth group passed the first group with under a mile to go.

These fastest runners were Ben Moreau of Oxford (49:31), with a lead of well over a minute, followed by ex-captain Ben Hope, and new mens' vice-captain Will George. The sight of these incredibly hairy athletes pelting past inspired many of the third group runners to put in a desperate last sprint for the finish. Matt Sims, however, was having none of this, and beasted it right from the gun, leaving the third group trailing and coming in tenth overall. The runners of the first and second groups were very supportive, jogging back along the road and calling out "only a mile to go now," or, half a mile later, "only a mile to go now." They were not to be believed on either occasion.

Those who remained at the finishing line were treated to Joseph Spevick and Ulrich Paquet's dramatic photo-finish at 63 minutes and 1 second. They later revealed their unconventional warm-up session: a nice relaxing hour of squash, just before the race. We returned to Cambridge exhausted, but well set up for the day's main event: the CUH&H annual dinner.

by Aidan Brown

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