Cuppers 2016 Report

7:45am, Sunday 23 October 2016 and South Park was bang on with the pathetic fallacy. As the mist hung low in the trees and the moon showed its pale face from behind the clouds, it was almost as if the park itself was anticipating the drama that would later unfold on its unforgiving slopes. With every stake, flag, and sprinkling of flour the excitement was building, and as the dreaming spires were gradually revealed by the lifting fog, so was a course that would later sort the Greeks from the bin men, the chemists from the orienteers, the middle distance athletes from the marathon runners and the drop bears from the choppers.

Owing to the introduction of the Howard Online Registration System, sign ups were already looking strong before anyone had even turned up. Nevertheless it was still a relief when the competitors one by one began to appear in real life and set out on their warm-ups and other such pre-race rituals.

First up were the women, with defending champion Bethanie Murray lining up fresh from her cross-country debut in Ireland the previous weekend. Despite her international roots, Beth was feeling particularly at home on this Oxford course, so much so that she got a bit too close for comfort with the turf on her way to the start line, no thanks to a minor incident with a rabbit hole. With marshals in position and course details explained, the dulcet tones of Grumpy Howie set the girls on their way and it was Beth who immediately took charge at the front, closely followed by Dani Chattenton. By the start of the second lap Beth had a commanding lead, with Dani well clear in second. Behind the leading pair there had been a battle unfolding for the minor places throughout the race, and it was Hannah Plaschkes who came through to take third place with an impressive performance reminiscent of her dominant IInds Match victory two years earlier. There was a sprint for the line as women’s Captain Helene Greenwood came home in fourth place just ahead of new recruit Helen Record. In sixth was Sarah McCuaig, seventh and first fresher Anna Sharp, and closing the top eight was Rachel Skokowski.

Forty-five minutes after the women had set off to tackle the ups and downs of this gruelling course, it was the turn of the men. Eighty in total made for an impressive sight as they embarked on the opening uphill charge. Appearing first from behind the trees was Eoghan Totten taking control of the early pace, but all the big names were queueing up in his slipstream. A lap and a half later Luke Cotter, Luuk Metselaar and Will Christofi had established a leading trio with a comfortable margin that looked to have sealed the podium. Chasing hard was another group of three containing men’s Vice Captain Dan Mulryan, defending champion Jamie Parkinson, and I-thought-he-only-ran-on-the-track Weatherseed leading the all-important battle of the Miles. The third and last lap provided great spectating as the front three remained locked together until Christofi put in a surge on the inside downhill section and Cotter pulled clear in second. Luke had done all he could to close the gap on the climb but Downhill-Will, whose spikes have since undergone rigorous negative gradient motor doping tests, struck again and brought it home for his second Cuppers victory. Impressive running from the two Luukes (spelling compromise) saw them wrap up the medals (yes, there were actual medals). With a surge up the final straight it was JP who took fourth, Dan fifth and Miles sixth. No doubt glad to emerge onto the open finishing straight from the danger of trees and anything that might fall from them, John Spill put in a very strong run to claim seventh place and first fresher, followed by Eoghan in eighth.

Away from the front end of the races there were some gutsy performances right the way through the field and it was amazing to see such a great turn out of both men and women. Congratulations to absolutely everyone who took part and gave it their all on a highly demanding course.

Results were eagerly anticipated, mostly thanks to the debut of some very shiny new trophies. Despite minor controversy caused by the fact that Mr. L C Treasurer was rumoured to have been slightly intoxicated on giving permission for the purchase, it was soon agreed that the addition of such splendid silverware to the OUCCC collection had been a brainwave worthy of life club membership. In the regal surroundings of the King’s Arms, it was announced that the first ever etchings on the glistening, un-touched plates of glory would be none other than St. Hilda’s College for the women, and Balliol College for the men.

A fantastic day was concluded by pub golf (what else?) and general merriment from one and all. Thanks must go to Alex and Bethanie for their organisational work, and to all of the helpers and marshals who ensured the event ran smoothly. The Varsity hype has been building gradually since we set foot on the untrodden unsure-if-this-is-a-paths of Cleeve, and Cuppers has well and truly raised the bar as we now look ahead first to Milton Keynes and then on to the big day(s). #DarkBlue

Laura Fenwick, Lady Margaret Hall

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Image by Noah Hurton

This report can be accessed as a Word document here.

Victories all-round in the 2016 Town and Gown Matches

It’s been another great week for OUCCC both on the road and track with the annual Town and Gown 10k race on Sunday 15 May and the Town vs. Gown Athletics Match on Wednesday 18 May. Starting with the 10k, many of our runners took to the streets of Oxford for the 35th staging of this popular event. Luuk Metselaar flew round the scenic course, winning in a time of 31:33, 46 seconds clear of the second-placed runner, and making it a ‘Gown’ victory for the second year in a row. Oliver Paulin also had a great race, finishing 18th in 35:19. On the girls’ side, Bethanie Murray was the fourth senior woman home in an impressive personal-best time of 38:42.

Three days later Bethanie Murray was back racing in the Town vs. Gown Athletics Match, where she conclusively won the women’s 5000m in 17:32, smashing the Full Blue time in the process. This was Bethanie’s fourth 5000m PB on the track in the short space of three weeks. After a brilliant cross-country season, she’s now dominating the distance races on the track too. Niki Faulkner claimed a decisive victory in the men’s 5000m, achieving a huge PB of 15:54. And the victories did not stop there: Tom Binnie was rewarded for his win in the Mile with a very nice trophy.  It’s proving to be an extremely successful summer season for OUCCC and the best bit is that there’s still lots more left to come!

Helene Greenwood, OUCCC Women’s Captain 2016-17, University College

Full results of the Town and Gown 10k here.  Full results of the Town vs. Gown Athletics Match here.

This report can be accessed as a Word document here.

Athletics Varsity 2016: Report

Photograph by Adrian Royle

Photograph by Adrian Royle

Sporting competition between Oxford and Cambridge is known for its traditions. Certainly, 2016’s 142nd ’Varsity Track and Field Match at Iffley Road did not fail to live up to this expectation; the week leading up to 7 May was filled with the usual array of inspirational, yet nevertheless cringe-worthy, team e-mails, delightfully pathetic trash talk about the Tabs, and the composition of individual team members’ ‘pen portraits’, which revealed, once again, the scientists’ distinct lack of creativity. And of course there were the Blues’ blazers and the strawberries and cream as well.

Photograph by Adrian Royle; Jamie Parkinson leads out the 5000m

Photograph by Adrian Royle; Jamie Parkinson leads out the 5000m

Besides the tradition, OUCCC is always keen to innovate and improve. After a few weeks of frenetic mediating with our OUAC partners, our Cambridge counterparts and Achilles AC, we were delighted to be able to kick-off the day, beneath resplendent sunshine, with a development 3000m race open to all Oxford and Cambridge athletes not picked for the Blues or IIs teams. OUCCC had twenty participants in this race, taking the total number of OUCCC members racing on the day up to near-on fifty: a very pleasing achievement as we seek to develop athletes of all abilities throughout the year and give them all access to competitive race experiences. Dan Mulryan and Emma Bulstrode are to be congratulated on their individual triumphs.

Photograph by Adrian Royle; Sophia Saller leads the 5000m

Photograph by Adrian Royle; Sophia Saller leads the 5000m

Competing under OUAC’s banner, OUCCC’s Blues and IIs put in a string of fine individual performances in the endurance events, on what was a pleasing day of athletics all-round. Both the men’s and women’s IIs were victorious, reversing heavy defeats from last year, and this was aided superbly with individual wins from Liz Sandham (800m), Luke Cotter and Emma DeCamp (Mile), Jamie Parkinson (5000m) and new Club Captain Miles Chandler (3000m SC), with eight PB performances across the board in the distance events.

Photograph by Adrian Royle; William Christofi leads the Mile

Photograph by Adrian Royle; William Christofi leads the Mile

Whilst Cambridge were narrow winners in both Blues matches, OUCCC members put in a strong showing and should rest moderately contented that, whilst coming second in a two-team competition is not ideal, there is much evidence to suggest that we have a large and talented group of athletes this year who are enthusiastic, committed, and ever eager to improve. Rachel Skokowski (800m), Sophia Saller (5000m) and Alex Howard (3000m SC) showed high levels of composure and execution to win their races, whilst a quick glance down Power of 10 suggests that Sophia and Alex were joined in recording PBs by Aidan Smith (3000m SC), Miles Weatherseed, Mr Secretary (Mile), and Bethanie Murray (5000m).

Photograph by Adrian Royle; all square at the start of the 800m

Photograph by Adrian Royle; all square at the start of the 800m

The day was also characterised by a number of highly memorable moments, brave performances and amusing anecdotes: Hugo Fleming boldly threw down the gauntlet in the 800m with a blistering 54-second opening lap; Natalie Beadle and new find Mimi Elvidge showed terrific adventure and spirit by taking up the Steeplechase at short notice (I hope the water was not too cold in the water-jump Natalie!); Will Ryle-Hodges and Bethanie Murray had the home crowd suffering collective heart failure after their dramatic and desperate home straight kicks (Bethanie has at last stopped looking at her watch every 200m now, so will not be able to tell you her split for that final section of the race); and it would be wrong not to mention the Stoic resolve and determination of our 5000m women (Sophia, Bethanie, Helene Greenwood and Harriette Drew) for fighting through the second half of their race amidst a diabolical downpour of rain in order to secure their teams’ points.

Photograph by Adrian Royle

Photograph by Adrian Royle

You will not find these ‘informal’ events on the results sheet. Yet they often provide the lasting memories which, alongside the results, contribute hugely towards big competition days like the ’Varsity Match, making them immensely enjoyable occasions, and great adverts for the identity OUCCC aspires to, something which we hope is felt by all of our members.

William Christofi, OUCCC Secretary 2015-17, University College


Full results of the Match can be accessed here.

This report can be accessed as a Word document here.

With thanks to Adrian Royle for permission to use his photos.  Adrian’s full photo album can be accessed here.