Machester Relays Report
'Keep your filthy American lips off my bottle.' - Captain Ben, denying the undersigned a post-race sip of his delicious and nutritious protein shake.
On this last Saturday, October 9th, while most members of the Hare and Hounds either diligently prepared for the pounding roads of the Fresher's Fun Run, or recovered from the start of the first real weekend of the year, a few brave or foolish souls woke at the crack of dawn to venture to the Manchester Relays and represent Cambridge at one of the larger relay events of the year. Consisting of 6 x 2 mile legs for the men and 3 x 2 mile legs for the women, the meet gives the CUHH the opportunity to flex its muscle prior to the onset of College League and Varsity matches.
Comprising the men's team (The Cambridge University Mums Society) were two fleet alumni, Dave Barker and Ben Davies, and four current Hareys: Andy Bell, Ed Brady, Dan Chambers, and Jacob Eisler. The women were abley represented by the trio (aka "Badders's Bitches") of Catharine Wood (Bish), Lucy Cundliffe (Bash), and Claire Willer (Bosh). Providing moral support and working demonstration of the hand brake of the University van was our mighty captain, Benjamin 'Benedict' T. Hope.
Prior to the actual foot race, however, was the race to reach Manchester from Cambridge by the 2 PM start, a task complicated by several factors, particularly the crush of football fans out to see the Wales-England game in Manchester. Our mighty captain's decision to leave the hand brake slightly on for the entire forward journey further complicated matters, as did going around the final traffic ring at Manchester a total of 5 times. With roughly 3 or 4 minutes before the start time of 2 PM, Ms. Wood began to lace up her spikes while still cramped in the back seat, and the men's team could only take solace in the fact that the two alumni had arrived early and could register and start the race in the absence of the rest of the team.
However, a munificent delay on the part of the relay organizers spared the Hareys any great stress, and even the first racers were allowed a bit of time to warm up and prepared for the race. The course itself was a flat, smooth, and fairly fast 2-mile loop, mostly grass or dirt with a few short patches of tarmac. A fairly steep water jump from the lower to the higher bank of a small stream and a log obstacle (confronting racers with the dilemma of hurdle-steeple-go around) provided variety to the terrain. However, as the race proceeded, the banks of the stream were reduced to mud, making things a bit more challenging for the latter racers, and tempting one racer (let's call him 'Chan Dambers') to stop and laugh at some poor girl who was 'scrabbling' to pull herself over the bank as he himself effortlessly glided over the stream.
The races themselves were fairly impressive. On the women's side, Catharine (13.12) and Lucy (3.44) both provided solid efforts despite relatively little warm-up time. This set up Claire for an impressively speedy finish (12.11), earning the women a final position of 10th. On the men's side, the alumni provided a strong start with Dave (10.50) and Ben both (11.05) pulling down fast results. Andy (11.00) and Dan (11.17) also demonstrated good speed in the first race of the season, and Jacob (12.18) recovered from a brief mixup at turnover to show a solid kick at the exhortations of Dan, Lucy, and Andy. The most impressive performance on the men's side, however, was brought down by Ed, whose classically heroic stride had him make up several places as he ran a swift 10.43, cheered on by much of the team over the last 400 meters as he raised the men's team 14th place. For both teams, the swift anchor runners proved crucial in securing the team positions.
After taking a sentimental photograph and shedding a few tears over the weekend departure of Dan (greatly costing Pembroke in the Fresher's Fun Run standings), the Hareys returned uneventfully and a bit more swiftly home. The primary entertainment was provided by a certain team member- who shall remain nameless- repeatedly falling asleep, only to wake up a few minutes later and distressedly exclaim 'Oh no, I've drooled on myself again!', much to the amusement of the tired but satisfied relay runners.