The first few weeks of October always seem to have surprisingly good weather to put the new freshers at ease, but eventually the first day of rain comes.

For years, engineers and scientists have been trying to refine the Navier-Stokes equations enough to be able to predict weather accurately. One thing that should be kept in mind is that there is nothing more certain to cause miserable weather than the looming advent of the first cross country race of the season.

This year as the leaves turned brown (and wet) Imperial’s fittest and finest journeyed to North London for the first in the series of 5 races in the London Cross Country League.

The grass was definitely slick, but the conditions - unlike some races in previous years - were far from apocaliptic. The true challenge of the day facing the intrepid ICXC runners was the famous Parliament Hill, which would need to be tackled at least twice by all during the course of the race.

After a hot debate over the route to get to the race start, the runners arrived to Hampstead Heath in dashing new spikes and vests (for those who managed to snag one before they sold out!).

Following a brief warm-up and the traditional chanting on the start line to drown out the health and safety instructions from the race director, the 200-strong crowd of runners from across the capital’s student population were on their way.

St. Mary’s (a team absolutely rammed with international scholarship talent) were on the right of the start line, flanking the strong showing from Imperial who – with over 50 athletes – fielded the largest men’s and women’s teams of any club.

As is tradition at the annual season opener, all the colleges had selected their respective “King of the Hill” contenders.

This strange competition involves completely ruining any prospect of having a good race for the victim as it involves sprinting to get to the top of the mammoth first hill before anyone else.

Initially it looked like a Bart’s runner would take the crown, but in the end they were no match for Imperial’s heroic James Millett. An 800m man by trade, he used his superior speed endurance to overtake the fledgling offerings from Bart’s and Mary’s to bring back the (metaphorical) King of the Hill crown for Imperial.

The success for IC’s band of merry runners did not stop there. Niki Faulkner, strong from the gun, finished a clear 2nd place behind “really fast” steeplechaser from St. Mary’s.

On the women’s side, Georgia Curry made a triumphant return to finish an excellent 3rd, taking home the bronze medal just ahead of teammate Kate Olding in 4th.

In terms of team performances, in the women’s competition, Imperial’s A-team packed well to put 5 (Georgia Curry, Kate Olding, Alix Vermeulen, Liv Papaioannou and Steph Hewitt) in the top 16 to place a close 2nd in the team competition behind Mary’s (who, unlike IC, were not missing any star athletes due to graduation ceremonies).

Imperial’s B-team top the B-league, finishing in 4th overall ahead of A-teams from King’s, Reading, LSE, RVC, RHUL, St. George’s, and Bart’s. Following hot on their heels, Imperial’s C-, D-, and E-teams top their respective leagues too.

In the men’s competition, Imperial have a bit of work to do to catch the 2 Mary’s teams and UCL ahead of them in the rest of the season as they finished 4th team.

While only Niki (2nd) broke into the top 20 on this occasion, the depth of the men’s squad is looking encouraging for the season ahead. Imperial A placed all of their runners in the top 35 with strong runs from Daniel Garcia, Fergus Johnson, Charlie McFadzean and fresher Lucas Kreifels.

Imperial’s B-team finished 3rd in the B-league, ahead of A-teams from Bart’s, LSE, and RVC. Imperial’s C-team are also 3rd in their league, with the D-team 2nd (because St. Mary’s only had 3 teams), and the E-team top of the E-league (out of 1).

The team looks forward to getting some of their “big hitters” competing in the upcoming fixtures to complement their admirable strength-in-depth.

Naturally, the race was followed by the mass-sampling of all-manner of baked goods made by members, with some new faces putting in early bids for club “Baker of the Year”.

The next race is widely regarded as the flattest in the LXCL calendar, and takes place at Mitcham Common on Halloween. LXCL races are open to all abilities (F-team anyone?), so if you are interested in coming along, find us on Facebook and/or email run@ic.ac.uk.