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
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
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
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
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
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.