The annual BUCS XC races are some of the most anticipated on the University running calendar, and the Hare and Hounds never fail to send their best down South to show exactly why they are considered one of the country’s best clubs. Last weekend saw the accumulation of all of Britain’s keenest cross country runners at a hilly and muddy park in the scenic location of South Yorkshire.
A sunny, but cold day brought together over 1,800 runners from all over the UK into three races – the field was packed, however Edinburgh University Hare and Hounds stood out by a country mile. Being the epitome of a cross country course, the various routes involved steep inclines, descents, ditches and hay bales – all to make the event as gripping as possible for the spectators.
First to take on the elements was the Men’s A team in a 10.3km surge, where the best runners in the country went head to head. For Edinburgh, the team comprised of Logan Rees (28th) and Scott Stirling (29th), both Scotland national team regulars, demonstrating fine form on the tough terrain. Euan Gillham (55th), Elisha De Mello (61st) and Alex Carcas (72nd) followed briskly, securing the team a dominant finishing position. Overall their efforts hurtled them into 8th place in the team rankings, highlighting the remarkable team work that the Haries take pride in.
Next to toe the start line were the women, where only having one race led to a record number of participants. Out of 621 runners, the team from Edinburgh managed to claim the bronze team medal after having narrowly missed out on a podium finish, placing fourth last year. The team included Steph Pennycook (6th), Mhairi MacLennan (11th) and Louise Mercer (14th). All also Scotland national team regulars, proving that their fourth year of racing at BUCS has provided them with all the experience necessary to bring home the prize and 10 BUCS points.
With Catriona Graves (28th), Sophie Collins (76th), Eve MacKinnon (77th) on their tails, the Harie prowess across all races was clear. Amy Frankland (113th), Lydia Blythe (145th) and Rosie Wright (208th) were next home. Despite all of the girls being covered in mud, most notably shining through were their huge smiles. A total of 18 girls ran from Edinburgh, where everyone gave the gruelling 7.3km their all.
Finally, the Men’s B race took to the churned-up course, where the starting line was a hot-bed of excitement and naked ambition. With a total of 574 runners, this race was set to be carnage. The 13 brave Haries raced as fast as they could around the 8.1km route, where Jack Leitch (10th), Jacob Adkin (12th) and Alex Chepelin (19th) all demonstrated their dominance on the hilly terrain. Their training on Edinburgh’s finest Arthur’s Seat ensured they were set for any hill in their path.
Next in was Craig Campbell (31st), Nicholas Allen (52nd), James Taylor (56th) and Ewan Davidson (59th). Captain Alex Luetchford (81st) clearly took on board his own motivational speech, “run fast, run hard, run your best and do the Haries proud,” where James Dunn (108th), carefree Andrew Lawler (130th) and Ben Murphy (168th) were hot on his heels.
When compared to universities which are specifically organised to facilitate elite level endurance running, it is clear that the talent and dedication of student athletes at Edinburgh works wonders – proving that the Haries are among the most elite distance runners in academia. Last weekend was undoubtedly a race that every runner should be proud to have been part of. Representing the University is an achievement in itself, then to toe the line at the biggest cross country competition in Britain, and winning a medal in the process is unprecedented.
Next up in the calendar for the club is the Scottish National Cross Country in Falkirk; some track specialists will be heading for the BUCS outdoor championships in May, and others, the BUCS 10,000m Championships at Parliament Hill Track in London.
Image courtesy of Edinburgh University Hare and Hounds