Last weekend, ICXCAC took on the BUCS Cross-Country Championships, along with other universities from all around the UK. Imperial fielded a staggering 63 runners – ICXCAC’s largest BUCS team to date and the largest of all teams competing on Saturday!

The club’s members awoke early on Saturday morning, fuelled by the carb-loading from the night before, and drearily made their way to Beit for the scheduled 8:30am departure to Uxbridge – the home of hosts Brunel – leaving enough time to apply the obligatory matching face paint, complete a range of challenges involving cocoa powder, and get the team’s spirits up.

When the athletes arrived in Uxbridge, they made their way to the Hillingdon House Farm Sports Ground, directed by their megaphone-wielding secretary-turned-DJ and rocking some Britpop classics. Once the team had arrived at the course, they set up camp with their new club flag flying high and quickly went on a walking tour of the course. Starting in a field, the course began with two kilometers of mild cross-country conditions before ascending the notorious ‘ski slope’: a slippery, steep, and narrow section that makes even the most hardened runner question their motivation for running. Further along the course the legendary river-crossing awaited them, and the lap ended with a final kilometer through the woods.

The first event of the day was the women’s race, which began at noon. After a brief warm-up, and with the drizzle still falling, Imperial’s 25-strong women’s team headed to the starting line where a mighty 718 competitors had lined up. Overall, Imperial’s women posted some very strong performances in the 6.5km race with Sarah Johnson leading the team home in 37th position, followed by Georgia Curry in 98th. Hyde Park Relays organiser Kate Olding then came in 118th, followed by Sarah Grover in 131st, Women’s Captain Anna Lawson in 159th, Amy Davila in 185th, along with the whole of the women’s team who all ran fantastically and achieved amazing results individually and as a team.

“The club members woke early, fuelled by the carb-loading from the night before”

The race schedule was action-packed and, with the crowd still breathless from the women’s race, the men’s A race was ready to begin with 360 runners lining up this time. This race was the day’s longest: the runners faced a brutal 10km of hardcore cross-country running with the mud becoming harder and harder to run on. Overall, ICXCAC performed outstandingly in yet another race as club-legend Chris Olley inspired his teammates by finishing in a spectacular 2nd place, followed closely by 10km -road-specialist Luke Caldwell in an excellent 6th place. The team was rounded off by Oliver Newton coming in 81st, Nikhil Faulkner in 129th, Harry Scriven in 142nd, and Trail Captain Henry Hart in 167th.

Finally, it was time for the men’s B race, which fielded nearly 600 runners. Slightly shorter than the men’s A race, the 7.9km race was in undoubtedly the poorest conditions of the day meaning it would not be a pleasure cruise: not a single patch of dry ground or grass could be seen throughout the course and the rain continued to pour. For this reason, the team was as cheerful and motivated as ever as they went on to encourage the 28 final Imperial runners throughout their grueling race. Overall the team completed the course with great results, with Daniel Ayers in 141st, Club Secretary Fergus Johnson in 155th, Kirill Mikhaylov in 182nd, Men’s Captain Lewis Jackson in 187th, Duncan Hunter in 215th, Edmund Jones in 286th, and all the rest of the men’s B team that took part in this tough race: showing all the other universities what ICXCAC are capable of!

After these outstanding performances, the team got together for the traditional post-racing baking binge, featuring muffins, meringues, macarons, and avocado bread among other millennial delicacies. Following this, the awards ceremony began, and as Chris Olley received his medal, Imperial probably should have won gold for the huge cheer that was provided.

From there, the squad headed in the local pub’s direction, to enjoy a well-earned rest as well as the joys of electric heating. After a few refreshing beverages, it was time to take the bus towards a local curry house, where the sturdy runners would refuel with an all-you-can-eat buffet.

After returning to Uxbridge and befriending the Bristol and Nottingham teams in the pub, the runners headed to the much-anticipated BUCS after-party at Brunel’s Student Union. After making it past some rather unwelcoming bouncers, the Student Union offered four rooms of music, including a Silent Disco, giving ICXCAC the chance to show its skills on the dancefloor late into the night.

The next morning, those who managed to wake up early enough made it to Men’s Captain Lewis Jackson’s house for a Sunday breakfast “run”, although the run was almost entirely replaced with Oasis and toast. All in all, Imperial could not have asked for a better day out – outstanding performances and undeniable banter: ICXC at its finest.

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