Just two weeks after the first cross-country race of the London University’s XC League at Parliament Hill, the rowdy Imperial runners woke up on Halloween to find the sun shining and their calendars showing the highlight of their upcoming day: a lovely race at Mitcham Common.

The course is appreciated for being quite fast and flat, but don’t let this fool you as the roller-coaster section in the middle of the laps has left many a runner out of juice in the past.

Going into the race, the women’s A team sat in 2nd place, very close to St Mary’s, while the B, C, D, and E teams were top of their respective leagues with a very impressive performance at Parliament Hill. Meanwhile, the men’s teams were resting in 4th place for the A team, with the B team 9th overall and 3rd of the B teams, with St Mary’s also leading the way for the men.

Being in charge of the course set-up for this race, Imperial’s helpful volunteers made their way to the South London park with all their equipment by taking the esteemed District Line to Wimbledon Park and then the tram to the notorious Beddington Lane.

The rest of the team met as usual at Beit Quad at 1pm to follow the same route to be there in time for the 3:15pm start, allowing plenty of time for “group inertia” on the journey and a sufficient warm-up/toilet stop upon arrival. Nobody managed to get lost en route despite Imperial’s lack of experience riding the tram, and the club set up camp under the shining sun ready and motivated for another strong race.

As the race was about to begin, the sturdy athletes shed their layers like a snake, brought out their spikes and vests (for those who had managed to get their hands on one of the limited supply or borrow them from one of several injured runners) and entered the well-rehearsed formation for the traditional team picture, followed by a late rush to the start line.

The pace was set early and it was fast from the gun. Rapidly reaching the first set of hills, St Mary’s men led the race into the roller-coaster section as the sun was shining upon golden leaves, followed closely by a pack of Imperial runners, including the club’s very own captain Fergus Johnson.

After the race, the baking bonanza took place as it always does, as the club’s “Baker of the Year” award is as coveted (if not more) as a podium in the Cross-Country league, featuring degustation of croissants, cookies and spooky cupcakes.

ICXC put in an outstanding performance as the women’s A team smashed it: Georgia Curry and Kate Olding came in 1st and 2nd in the race in 22:31 and 23:21 respectively, promoting them to the top 2 places on the overall leaderboard!

They were followed closely by Alix Vermeulen coming in 6th in 24:18 and Lara Sterritt in 10th place, just under 25 minutes, meaning they were the strongest team that day, and now sit atop the overall leaderboard – well on their way to retaining the title with 3 fixtures remaining.

Anna Wilson led the B team home in a fabulous 14th place. Imperial’s ladies excelled in every single way as the B and C teams came in 2nd in their respective leagues, with many of our very own Couch to 5K runners performing strongly, notably Noemie David-Rogeat finishing in 35:01, Yunping Zhang in 36:41 and Nathalie Podder in 45:19.

Meanwhile, on the men’s side, Charlie McFadzean brought it home in 20th place in a rapid 32:48, followed by Lucas Kreifels in 25th in 33:31, men’s captain Jack McKeon in 29th in 33:51, a wavy club captain Fergus Johnson in 30th in 33:59 and Jim Warren in 38th in 34:48, followed closely by Matt Ryan in 39th only a second behind, and leading the B team.

Overall, the men’s A team maintained their 4th place overall, still 53 points behind St Mary’s B team in 3rd which demonstrates SMU’s calibre. Furthermore, the B team also showed a strong performance as they ended overall in 10th place and 3rd in the B league, as well as C and D teams who are now 3rd in their respective leagues as well.

Now two races into the season, everything is still very much in play, and the next race will take place at Wimbledon Common on the 14th November. If it rains, it can get very muddy so keep an eye out for the weather forecast!

If you are interested in coming along, email run@ic.ac.uk.