Varsity, in my opinion, is one of the best events at Imperial. The rivalry between ICSM and IC is something you whole-heartedly participate in without even fully understanding why. The heated and intense competition of not just winning a game but winning for a ‘greater cause’ is also motivating. The support from your team and faculty can also be overwhelming, and you truly feel like a part of a larger community. This year’s varsity is one that will be remembered, and one that teams that participated in it will be proud of!
The Virtual Varsity held this year was from the 19th – 21st of March was held via Strava, where teams competed for distance against their rivals by trying to walk/run the furthest distance in three days. As the organisers said, “From Strava groups to Instagram takeovers, a lot of work went in to organising this, but the success ultimately came down to everybody’s massive commitment.” Each team could win a point for their faculty, to determine who is better, ICSM or IC. The team with the furthest distance in total could also win a £250 Just Eat voucher, and there were also individual prizes for Bonus Challenges, such as cycling the longest distance, the most inventive route (GPS view on Strava), and the longest held plank.
Participants pushed to their maximum, and at the end of the day, regardless of what the final results were going to be, everyone was proud of themselves for the effort they put in.
Clubs seemed motivated from the start! Friday started off strong for Imperial College, with IC cross country running an insane 210 kilometres, almost 100 kilometres ahead of second place and 119km ahead of their ICSM rivals. IC Lacrosse and Men’s 2nd Hockey were also up on the top 5 leader board putting in lots of kilometres, but ICSM was up there too, with Women’s Football ahead of both of these teams.
On Saturday, IC was no match for ICSM, with all 5 top positions being overtaken by ICSM and all teams were in the 100s of kilometres! ICSM Women’s football were at the top of the board, with 175km done that day, and the second day in a row to be top 2 in the leader board. ICSM Netball as a club did great on that day, with two of their teams in the leader board. ICSM boat club and Water Polo ranked 3rd and 4th that day, both getting ahead of their IC rivals. Even with these amazing results, there was still no clear winner until Sunday.
Sunday was a big day, with lots of pictures being posted about people running and walking everywhere. If you followed the Instagram page, you saw some insane results, with people running full marathons around London at ridiculously fast times, and people doing late night runs to try and get as many kilometres in as possible for the deadline. If you walked around anywhere you could see the Imperial Crest or Medics Phoenix all around London, and I know I smiled every time I saw one. Participants pushed to their maximum, and at the end of the day, regardless of what the final results were going to be, everyone was proud of themselves for the effort they put in.
Seeing the final results was incredible! ICSM Boat covered the most distance, with an absolutely astounding 469km in total, beating IC Boat’s effort by 279km. The effort put in by ICSM Boat was phenomenal and I know each member of ICSM is incredibly proud of them!
Given that ICSM Women’s Football were on the leader board two days in a row, I thought it would be worth mentioning them. They came second overall, with 437km, meaning each player covered 31.2km on average! We managed to get a few words from the women’s football captain, “I knew all the members would happily get involved but the lengths that everyone went to and the effort they all put in was unreal. Everyone was so supportive of each other… Everyone really pushed themselves and did their bit for the team. I’m so proud of them all. Big love to all the IMWFC players!!”
The overall winners were… ICSM! They won 14 points to 8, and had the most distance covered, with 3,342km over the 3 days, compared to IC’s 2,060km, winning by 1282km!
To put this into some perspective, IC ran an equivalent of 48.8 marathons and ICSM ran the equivalent of 79.1 marathons. In the words of Chris Oldfield, “Congrats to ICSM for deservedly winning The Imperial Varsity 2021!”
Of course, we can’t forget about the individual competitions! Miguel Armstrong, the Club Captain of ICSM Water Polo, won the competition of longest plank. The most creative route was done by Duncan Ingram, who did a marathon (!!!) in the shape of a seahorse. This is what he had to say about varsity this year and winning the individual prize: “Having all competitions to be running/walking-based was a frustrating reminder that life isn't back to normal yet, but given the limitations I think the Varsity team did a great job. The Strava management and social media hype were both great, so big kudos… Initially I was a bit surprised at winning most creative route as the main thing in my mind was 'distance'. I knew that Sunday's route (Richmond + Thames Path between Kew and Wandsworth) would trace a seahorse-esque shape as I'd done parts of it before, so going for the marathon was a nice excuse to fill out the 'snout'! I'm mainly just relieved that running 88 km over the long weekend got some recognition.” The longest cycle went to Alice Duhem!
Whilst the usual atmosphere of the three-day competition could never be exactly replicated, the commitment and dedication shown by so many was incredible to see.
Chris Oldfield, the ICSMSU Clubs and Societies Chair and ICSM coordinator for Varsity, and Geoffrey Sheir, the ACC Chair and IC coordinator for Varsity, say “I thought it went really well. The engagement was a lot better than we thought given that people might be bored of virtual activities and it was definitely nice to see people out and about. Whilst the usual atmosphere of the three-day competition could never be exactly replicated, the commitment and dedication shown by so many was incredible to see. Just logging on to the ICSM Strava and seeing the hundreds of kilometres walked and run every day gave the sense of community and being part of a larger team that The Imperial Varsity is all about.”