Pembroke, New Hall Victorious at Selwyn Relays; Queens' Triumphs Majestically for both College League Titles
On a cool, windy, and sporadically sunny Sunday, March 13th, courageous represenatives of Cambridge colleges united at the Wilberforce Track Road for the season's final College League race and the penultimate Cambridge Hare and Hounds meet of the year. With 15 colleges represented by 17 men's teams and 6 colleges represented by 7 women's teams, it proved to be an exciting end to a tremendous year of College League racing.
Ending with appropriate circularity, the race borrowed much of its course from the Fresher's Fun Run, the first College League race of the year. After a lap around the track, runners set off over the same loop as the first lap of the Fun Run, followed by another shorter loop on the hard dirt track around the Wilberforce complex. The final distance was 4k over hard and fairly flat ground, allowing for some impressively speedy times, and also more than a bit of confusion as a few runners became lost; the crossover between the two loops with arrows pointing in opposite directions seemed to be an occasional source of trouble.
Speed, however, was the order of the day, particularly for the men as the Pembroke quadret of Dereck Harmon, James Traer (who may get the day's 'guts' award for running consecutive legs for different teams), Ed Brady and Rich Ward (pictured at right) moved into the first position after the third leg and never relinquished it, finishing in 56.03, 91 seconds ahead of 2nd place Queens' (Tom Coats, Matt Young, Alex McIntosh, and Andy Bell) whose consistently swift lineup consistently held onto the 2nd or 3rd position for the entire race. Finishing 3rd in 57.41 was Jesus (Rob Morris, Ian Blaney, Rich Hewitt, and Will George), who moved from 5th to 3rd on the last lap on the strength of Will George's (pictured at left) 12.56 final leg, the best time on the day. Rich Ward's final leg was second best overall result in 13.07, and Alex McIntosh and Matt 'Tigger' Armstrong tied for the third best leg of the day in 13.49. Overall, the Men's Race was an impressive display, boding well for next season's crucial competitions; Will George's improvement over the course of the year in particular ought to have Oxford quivering like small, slow children in their little dark blue uniforms. Ward and Armstrong, meanwhile, demonstrated that it is possible for mid-distance specialists to maintain impressive clips over distances of more than one mile.
On the women's side, New Hall demonstrated the importance of depth as the foursome of Leika Gooneratne, Katie Roberts, Shan Cai and Ellie Monks (with Alix Harper running a parellel 3rd leg) emerged victorious in 75.23. Trinity A (Julie Addison, Sarah Kummerfeld, Jane Allison, and Sarah Maidment) finished 2nd, only seventeen seconds behind, and Claire Willer (very happy to be pictured left) continued to impress in leading the Robinson women (Willer, Vicky Coleman, Tess Thurston, and Celina Hutton) to a third place, 76.23 finish. Claire Willer actually occupied both top women's individual spots, running a 15.57 for the Robinson women and a 16.35 for the Robinson mixed team (the only mixed team running on the day, and finishing logically enough between the final men's team and top women's team). Thankfully, the endurance she demonstrated on Sunday will be well deployed over the next few years as she returns to Cambridge as a graduate student. Coming in third was Claire Day of Queens' with a 16.54, and the third fastest women/fourth spot was occupied by Ellie Monks of New Hall. Full results for both Men's and Women's teams are available online on the Cambridge Hare and Hounds webpage.
Despite Pembroke's and New Hall's victories, however, they could not hold off a royal sweep of the overall Chris Brasher College League titles by Queens' College (group photo, replete with rehydrating (?) rewards, below). Lead by Claire Day, the women emerged victorious, narrowly clipping Caius despite a somewhat muddled performance at the Selwyn Relays themselves, and the Queens' men managed to defeat archrivals Pembroke despite Pembroke's Selwyn conquest. Catz, meanwhile, won Men's Division II by a large margin, moving to Division I along with Robinson and Wolfson (knocked out of Div I were Churchill, John's, and Darwin, ironically the same 3 colleges which advanced last year. If only Benja Hope had run...multiple...legs...in every college race...). For full results and details, check out the College League final standings table (A note- the Emma Men's 4th place result in Div II was only a warning, an omen if you will. Next year, there shall be nothing but domination).
The celebrations ended on a wonderful note as the thanks and thankful lucre were distributed to those individuals who contributed their time and energy to making this year's college league races possible. In particular, a big thanks to Catherine Wood and Alice Tozer as college league organizers, and to Phil Scard, Si Rutherford, and Ben Hope to providing additional support. And the generous efforts of Dr. Chris Thorne to provide timing and administration throughout the year were crucial. Till next year, runners!