This weekend saw 7 of Glasgow’s finest make the long journey down to London (thanks to Alastair for driving the minibus) for the annual British Uni’s and Colleges cross country champs. Hosted by Brunel Uni the course was “proper” XC with hills, mud, rain and a river crossing which claimed at least a few athletes over the course of the day, see:
First up was the Women’s race with Alicia Paton and Izzy Rayner representing the mighty Craic N’ Gold, faced with a two lap, 6.5km course that even made Callendar park seem like well…ehm… a walk in the park. Izzy set the early pace opening up a 50m gap over Alicia by the halfway point of the first lap at the river and maintaining the lead for most of the race, until Alicia showed her track pace on the finishing straight to close down Izzy and pass her on the line, before skidding through the mud at the end (yet still stay the cleanest out of the team). Alicia and Izzy finished 256th and 258th respectively out of a massive, high quality, field of 718, with no less than 9 GB runners and many more top-class athletes making the finish line. Two great runs, which bode well for the future with both girls having at least two more years to compete in what is unarguably the top cross country race in the country, and set the guys up for their chance to take on the challenging course.
The boy’s race was over 10km, including the same challenges of the girl’s. With 5 runners in the ‘A’ race we were guaranteed a team finish, as long as at least 4 of us finished. In the end none of us succumbed to the rain, cold and mud, all finishing – having thoroughly enjoyed the racing over such a challenging course. Getting the early pace right was the key to success on the energy sapping course and all 5 judge their efforts well, in particular returning former captain Alastair who chewed up the 2nd lap to breeze by the opposition and close in on his teammates to ensure an exciting finish. Buoyed by the girls support around the course in the miserable, rainy conditions (so much for the sunny London weather) this led to a brilliant team finish, which saw Tristan come 27th, Finlay 76th, Martin 97th, Alistair 113th and Gregor 183rd. Such a strong team performance resulted in us coming 14th overall! Encouraging signs for the upcoming national xc champs in Falkirk where we’re sure to see strong performances once again from this team, with all but Alastair competing in the u20 race, with Thor continuing his return to fitness and going up against the best senior men Scotland has to offer on the 24th.
Post race the team headed back to their accommodations to chisel away the mud and freshen up for evenings events. Once energy was restored the boys headed across to Izzy’s house where the Rayner family had prepared a banquet fit for the queen, appropriate since her majesty was such a close acquaintance of theirs (photo evidence was supplied). The food was delicious, good chat was had and the hospitality was very much appreciated. Since we’d travelled so far it also seemed a shame not to experience the local culture and there was no better way than the local pub. It was then on to the main event, the after party at Brunel union, minus Gregor who was being educated on various conspiracy theories, ranging from the titantic secret coverup to extra-terrestrials impact on modern day technology, from a local clearly in the know. Meanwhile at Brunel, 1000 plus student athletes descending on the multi-story club was always (never) a recipe for a civilised night, especially when rowdy Loughborough runners are thrown into the mix. The highlight was the silent disco with an impressively multi-talented DJ.
The following morning, with legs fresh and minds clear, the team re-grouped at Windsor Park, after a successful rescue operation to retrieve Finlay from the den of said Loughborough athletes. The team were treated to a running tour of the Queen’s back garden, to help ease the pain of the previous 24 hours. The team then completed the return journey back up north with credit to Alastair for getting us all home safely.
Race report by Martin “techno” Lynas, Finlay “thrown out” Todd, and Tristan “Fife4lyf” Rees