BUCS indoors. The first big event of the athletics season was upon us. Our thirteen-strong team of elite athletes jetted off to the Northern lands of Sheffield for a full weekend of cheering, racing, and, of course, dancing the night away. Held at the English Institute of Sport, the championships offers a chance for university athletes from across the country to kick-start their season and get a sense of where they’re at before the year ahead.

After a harrowing train journey full of cancelled reservations and rammed corridors, we eventually reached our destination, with some members of the club already on the track and competing less than an hour after arrival (#hardcore). Given that I had no events on the Friday, I just made for a glorified cheer-squad, so spent my day cheering on Marta in the 60m hurdles, Kate and Sarah in the women’s 800m and James and Jonathan in the men’s 800m. The first day of the competition primarily consisted of heats, where athletes competed to qualify for the semi-finals or final of their event.

“A special shout out to Sarah Johnson for making the 3000m final and Sarah Abrams who made the long jump final”

To finish the day, we set off to check into what turned out to be a top-quality hostel (thankfully athletics’ captain Max Thorp has good taste) and for an evening cooking together as a team. Led ably by Hyde Park Relays organiser Kate Olding, we went on to produce a military amount of amazing carbonara (and it was proper carbonara too). With much of the team competing the following day, we then turned in early to get ready for the big day ahead.

On to Saturday we went – the busiest day of the competition, with many of our members competing (myself included). On the way to the stadium, I discovered all of the events would be filmed and streamed online, which personally I found hilarious given what a beginner to the sport I am. As long as none of my family could find the stream, I was safe. Men’s Captain Lewis Jackson turned out an excellent performance in the men’s 1500m, as did Kate Olding and Sarah Grover, who had both progressed to the semi-finals of the 800m. A special mention too for Women’s Captain Anna Lawson who delivered a PB in the 1500m, as well as Stephanie Hewitt and Oliver Newton for their performances in their 3000m heats. Last, but not least, we had ex-Athletics’ Captain Raul Rinken throwing strong in the shot-put. It would be fair to say I hardly set the world on fire in the high jump, but the chance to experience competition at such a level and watch the other athletes leaping gracefully over ridiculous heights with ease was pretty damn inspirational (I’m talking over 2 metres here…).

The women’s 4x200m team still smiling after a tough relay heat. // ICXCAC

After cheering on the rest of the team until the late afternoon, the day drew to a close. Having decided we had all earned it, we set off in matching ICXCAC tie-dye t-shirts for the finest Chinese all-you-can-eat that Sheffield had to offer. Following on from this, the half of the team that had finished competing went off into the night to sample the renowned Sheffield nightlife. They were not disappointed, if their appearance the following morning was anything to go by.

“Watching the other athletes leaping gracefully over ridiculous heights with ease was pretty damn inspirational”

And then it was Sunday: finals day. Or in my case, the start of the 200m heats. No one could manage to explain to me why the entirety of the 200m competition was being run all in one day, but if I’m honest, it was never likely to affect me anyway. I finished an honourable sixth of six in my heat, but who can argue with a new PB? Once my heat was done, I joined the rest of ICXCAC to watch the finals – a special shout out here to Sarah Johnson for making the 3000m final and Sarah Abrams who made the long jump final! They did not disappoint. One of the best things about going to this event was that not only did you get the chance to compete, but you got to sit and watch some of the best athletes in the country battling it out in real time (for free!). Much drama followed, from shock disqualifications, to last minute dives over the line to take the gold. What more could you ask for? All in all, an amazing event to take part in! If you’ve not worked it out yet, I’m completely new to athletics, but I can honestly say getting out of your comfort zone and giving it a go is not something you’ll regret. So if you fancy yourself as the next Usain Bolt, or if you just want to try it out, come along to one of our many athletics sessions!

If you want more information, you can contact our Athletics’ Captain Max at max.thorp14@imperial.ac.uk