On Wednesday 7th March, 18 ICXCAC athletes embarked on a journey to running mecca – Iffley Road track in Oxford. It was on this hallowed turf in 1954 that the late Sir Roger Bannister broke the four-minute mile for the first time, and where the Imperial athletes would take part in the 2018 Teddy Hall Relays.
The triumphant day-out began with the team congregating in Beit Quad before taking a brisk walk through Hyde Park to catch the Oxford Tube from Notting Hill (other bus services are available). Straight to the back of the top deck, it proved to be a buzzing bus ride full of pre-race optimism, eVoting, and breath-taking scenery including multiple sharks – one of which was embedded in somebody’s roof.
They soon left the bus and strolled to Iffley track to be greeted by many other athletes from universities and running clubs listening to loud, upbeat Indie music. The flat, scenic course was approximately 7km and ran along the towpath and through Christ Church Meadow. Imperial’s squad consisted of two Men’s teams and two Mixed teams consisting of four runners, and one Women’s team consisting of three runners, with each runner completing one leg each. After a swift team allocation, a short briefing, and a minute’s silence for Sir Bannister, it was a flying start to Teddy Halls for the athletes.
Chris Olley immediately took charge pushing on to run the fastest leg of the day (20:46 – 30 seconds ahead of 2nd!) as part of the “Imperial Mixed A” Team. He passed the baton onto Sarah Johnson (25:16) who proved to be the 2nd fastest female of the day. Followed by strong contributions from Alex Mundell (29:47) and Kirill Mikhaylov (24:33), they finished with a silver medal as the 2nd Mixed Team overall. An impressive first leg from Fergus Johnson (24:12), followed by Jack McKeon (25:30), Men’s Captain Lewis Jackson (25:18) and an energetic finish from Duncan Hunter (25:21) propelled “Imperial Men’s A” to 9th overall.
It was a strong performance by the “Beasts from the South East”: Henry Maynard (27:52), Chew Yi Heng (27:52), Ian Napier (27:12) and Alex Baldwin (28:15), who finished 27th. “Imperial Women’s A” comprised of Jenny Lea (31:09), Wendy Lu Chen (35:35) and Anna Fleming (33:28) and continued the success finishing 11th overall. Finally, Heinrich Hummel (27:27) and Maryna Voloshyna (36:58) drove the baton round for “Hyde Park Gilets” (who finished 12th Mixed Team), before handing it to Fergus Johnson and Jack McKeon to run their second legs of the day. They deserve major kudos.
After soaking up the bustling atmosphere and a quick shower, the squad wandered back through Oxford to St Edmund Hall for a post-race celebration and result announcements. There was an interesting yet vast array of sandwiches ranging from lemon curd to cheese and pickle, cake, fruit, and drinks. Deservedly, the Imperial athletes continued their carb overload in the local Wetherspoons before a late return to London for a much needed rest.