After a very successful year which saw the Women’s A team winning the London Universities Cross-Country League, the Women’s B team coming 3rd and the Men’s A coming in 2nd place and athletes performing extremely well individually at BUCS, the Cross-Country and Athletics Club hit the mountains twice over the course of this Summer, making the most of the long summer days.
The trail team was first to set off as they made their way to Chamonix the first week of July. Upon arrival, having been blown away by the beautiful scenery the year before, they headed straight to Lac Vert, through tricky paths and cold streams. As the cheerful dozen reached the lake, the bravest went in for a swim in the crystal-clear water. Up early the next day to make the most of their time there, the party embarked on their long climb up to Mer de Glace, tackling a hefty 1400m of elevation amidst the intimidating peaks and under a glorious sunshine. Spirits were as high as these mountains. For their third day, more lake-packed action was in store as the crew headed North and climbed upto Lac d’Emosson, getting more mileage in and going through Switzerland.
The following day, always eager to do more, the company went on to climb the 1800m separating them from Mont Buet on another very strong effort. This brave bunch then decided to climb a vertical kilometre from Chamonix: those unfamiliar with the concept simply need to imagine a near-straight path with a kilometer of elevation gain on as short a distance as possible, roughly 4km here.
Although not the VK most consume on their average Wednesday evening, this was a tiring effort all of them savoured as they reached the top as well as during the following run down the mountain, which unsurprisingly felt much faster, burning all that potential energy. As a rest day was never an option, ex-Trail captain and newly-elected president Henry Hart and trail-lover Heinrich Hummel took on the Matterhorn expedition, leaving in the cold hours of 4am. Despite not quite reaching the summit, the duo still saw a beautiful sunrise and put in a valiant effort on this very tactical mountain path.
On their final day, the brave squad lined up at the start of the Zermatt Marathon; with nearly 2000m elevation distributed over the course of the marathon, the group took part in this beautiful race either on their own or as a duo, marking the perfect end to a week of exemplary trail running and countless calories burnt climbing up and down the peaks of Chamonix. A sensational trip all will remember and look forward to repeating next summer!
With summer progressing, preparations for the next tour came to life in the early hours of September, as Imperial’s brightest and fittest converged to Heathrow’s Wetherspoons ready to board their plane for Munich, before meeting up with the rest of the gang and heading to Austria for a week of running, swimming, sun-bathing and self-care.
Upon their arrival and witnessing the end of the Zell-Am-See Half-Ironman race, the club was welcome by torrential rain, but this didn’t dampen their spirits as they converged towards the local pub to experience traditional Austrian delicacies. Although the rain had stopped overnight, the skies weren’t quite clear yet as the group left the villa for their first run. A 10km loop around the lake for most and the steep climb up Hundstein for the trail enthusiasts. This was followed by a more laid-back afternoon, with the optional core training session. While some favoured the plank sets, others were getting familiar with the local brews; when in Austria…
The next day saw part of team run around the lake while the rest, led by Tour organiser Filip, climbed up to the Mooserboden reservoir, walking past the impressive Kesselfall gorge. Upon reaching the lake at lunchtime, the hikers rewarded themselves with some more traditional Austrian meals and a well-deserved nap by the lake.
The following two days saw the club members take part in much more than just running: with tennis performances worthy of Wimbledon, sunbathing and swimming in the local lake of Zell-Am-See and finally spending a day at the spa, the mid-week saw slightly less running for some, but the water slides and numerous games provided their legs with a happy break before the rest of tour.
The next day saw different groups head towards different mountains, with the most enthusiastic tackling the Kitzsteinhorn. While the glacier presented a severe obstacle, the hike or jog leading to it, nearing the 2000m elevation in the mist and the cold was appreciated by all.
As the week drew to its end, the club decided to hit the local club for a night of memorable (for some) dancing and partying. The next day saw most recover from the night out and go on unsurprisingly shorter runs than the rest of the week, at the exception of the night-time treasure hunt that concluded the trip, where some competitors gave it everything and sprinted most of it and others opted for a more laid-back approach and simply enjoyed the walk around the nearby hills and paths.
The next morning, the islanders said their goodbyes to the Villa and went home to London, ending their trip with a pint at Hammerspoons.
If you want to get involved with the club and go on such tours, contact the club at firstname.lastname@example.org