BUCS Cross Country is the highlight of our XC calendar and once again did not disappoint, with a fantastic day of racing in snowy, yet sunny, EXCeter (more XC puns to follow, dw!).
We kicked off with a 6am start which was greeted more favourably by some members than others, namely Abie deciding to stay in bed until 6:05, but before long we were on the road in our eXClusive coach and after many naps and several versions of James Blunt’s back catalogue we arrived at the course! Shout out has to go to Will Bray for championing in the annual karaoke champs on the trip, with a less than conventional version of Britney Spear’s toxic! The tent died (enough said).
The ladies’ race was up first, they were to set out on a 2-lap course of 6km taking in a number of hills and a water feature, in the form of the shores of a lake, nicely thumbed into the course for good measure. With a downhill start and adrenaline pumping the race hurtled off to a quick start but our athletes held their own, battling hard against a very strong field from unis from Aberdeen to Plymouth! Many of the runners opted to avoid the eXCitement of water’s edge, however our very own veteran, Abie (fresh from her extra half an hour in bed), was no stranger and was actually the 3rd athlete through the water – unfortunately this isn’t where the medals were awarded. Frances was our first girl home, placing in the top 100 – a fantastic achievement not achieved by any Leicester runner of recent years. Aiste and Hannah W came in shortly afterwards in 143rd and 251st to complete the team placings for the UOLRAC girls. There were some eXCellent runs from the girls that followed too, with Hannah S, Abie, Rachel and Anna coming in next weirdly all 30 places apart from each other finishing 407, 437, 467 and 497 respectively – spooky! Amy, Tabby, Harin and Sudha all put in great performances too completing what I believe to be UOLRAC’s biggest women’s BUCS XC team! A strong team performance all round allowed the girls to be the 24th fastest institution on the day, a massive improvement on 32nd place last year and a huge achievement for the club.
Next up was the men’s A race (typically with so many men they run in two races, with the first counting for BUCS points and the 2nd an all out battle for pride!). Another tough course faced the boys, tackling 3 laps to make a 10km course featuring 3 opportunities to enter the lake! A special shout out to Kyle for braving the water feature but also stacking to go face first into the water – the disappointment when we realised no one had filmed it! Stephen lead the UOLRAC boys home after an eXCeptional run placed him just outside the top 100 finishing 104th (2 places higher than last year), James G and Toby had a great battle behind placing 194th and 198th respectively, with Kyle coming in 225th to make up the final men’s team placing. Aric and Andrew put in brilliant runs to battle hard against each other and push the other boys on, finishing 239th and 246th to round of a great men’s A team. Strong performances from the boys placed them 40th in the team rankings, 4 places higher than last year – more improvement a pleasure to see!
Last but by no means least was the Men’s B race, a 8km course taking in the much sought after water feature, that up until this point had seen little action from the highly competitive women’s and men’s A races – that was all about to change! With all of our UOLRAC boys never ones to disappoint, they eXCelled in the water, entertaining the crowd with face plants, belly flops and press ups with the UOLRAC flag wave proudly in the background! Despite this, back out on the course there were also some excellent efforts in the running, adorned with hair dye and face paint, James F lead the boys home, closely followed by Callum and Alex. Drew, Will, Peter and Steve showed great form to come in next with splendid runs from Ben, Sean and Adam wrapping up a fine UOLRAC team.
All of our runners that made up our scoring teams each finished higher than last year’s (and the year before’s) counterparts with men jumping up the table from 44th to 40th and women climbing from 32nd to 24th – a credit to the athletes and a testament to great coaching from Martin this year! A fantastic weekend had by all and I’m truly proud of a fantastic team performance. Thanks eXCeter, roll on BUCSXC2020!