As this year’s only selection race for the Varsity teams, much was at stake for the Cambridge athletes competing at the Metropolitan Cross Country League fixture at Welwyn Garden City. As a major league for athletics clubs across London (as opposed to just university teams), the CUH&H runners would be putting themselves up against some high quality athletes. Changing location this year from Stevenage to WGC, the course brought with it its own series of challenges including a steep camber across long sections of the back field and a sharp drop onto concrete and a post to dodge 100m from the finish.
The women’s race covered 4 miles and involved several laps of the large loop, however confusion struck when the course marshalls directed the field the wrong way on the penultimate lap. The increase in distance alongside not knowing where the course was going to take you made the fixture a test of mental toughness.
Niamh Bridson Hubbard led the Cambridge train home to finish 5th, with fresher Fiona Bunn putting in an impressive performance for 7th. Packing well to finish close behind were Ruby Woolfe (10th), Nancy Scott (11th) and captain Lizzy Apsley (12th). Demonstrating a strong comeback from injury was Becca Frake in 16th. Sophie Kelly, Mary Butler and Flo Wiggins all claimed spaces within the top 30, closely followed by Fliss Williamson- Sarl, Hope Bretscher, Amy Radford, Lucy Thompson, Sofia Weiss, Kamile Matulenaite, Helen Ockenden and Becca Oates. With so many Harey girls in the field, both the selected and mob- match varsity teams promise to have fantastic strength and depth.
The presence of light- blue vests was also strongly felt in the men’s race with over 30 members of CUHH toeing the line at WGC. The field was led home by Ollie Fox, putting in an excellent performance to finish 5th. George Gathercole followed in close pursuit, beginning with what looks to be the makings of an excellent cross country season. Near behind were the duo of Phill Crout and Will Ryle- Hodges, sprinting to the finish to decide 16th and 17th place and Paul Aste (21st) and captain MacGregor Cox in 23rd. As selection for this year’s mens Blues team draws closer, Josh Cara, Joe Massingham and Eliot Nevill fought a close battle for the next three places.
The strength and depth demonstrated by both the mens and womens Cambridge sides at WGC looks promising for the upcoming selection meeting to decide on Varsity teams.