Below you can see reports from recent events OUCCC members have been racing at (if members want to add reports please send them to the webmaster!)

OUCCC Takes BUCS Athletics

As the bank holiday weekend dawned bright and sunny on Saturday it was clear to all that the cross-country season was over. The heat was on: it was time for OUCCC to turn its attention to the track and show that we have our share of track athletes mixed in amongst the ‘slow-twitch monsters’ the club is famous for.

The first distance event of the weekend was the men’s 1500m heats which saw three Oxford athletes take to the track in three out of the five heats. The top four in each heat plus the next four fastest times across all heats progressed to the semis, an incredibly difficult task in a stacked field with many high pedigree athletes. First up was Miles Weatherseed who had the disadvantage of being in the first heat which tends to yield the fewest fastest losers. He set off well, leading the pack for the first 800m and setting an honest pace, however, unfortunately didn’t quite have enough over the last 400m, narrowly missing out on a qualifying spot much to his frustration. Next up was Luke Cotter, in heat 4, who after a long time out with injury moved back up to the 1500m after placing second in the 800m at cuppers. He raced well, clocking a sub-4 minute time and again narrowly missing out on a spot in the semis. Last up was Alex Gruen, in heat 5, who made his automatic qualification intentions clear from the start and tucking in in second place. He was quite the favourite of the Vinco livestream commentator who spent the majority of the race likening him to an 80s footballer due to the head band and split shorts he was wearing. Gruen finished a comfortable second in his heat, easing down over the line to take his automatic place in the semi finals.

Next up, it was turn of the women to take on the metric mile, with Charlotte Dannatt and Eleanor Bolton flying the flag for Oxford. Charlotte cruised through her heat in 4.41, looking untroubled in her first outing on the track at university. Eleanor ran strongly in third and final heat but didn’t progress in a strong field.

Eleanor Bolton in the heats of the 1500m on Saturday


In the Women’s 800 heats Oxford had only one runner, Natalie Beadle, but what we lacked in quantity we madeup for in quality with Beadle finishing 6th in her competitive heat in a time not too faroff her personal best. The Men’s 800m was up next, again with another stacked field with 10 men having run 1.50 or under. Heat 1 saw Charlie Sneddon finish 5th, clocking a comfortable sub-2 time but this sadly wasn’t enough to see him progress. It was another 5th place finish for Bonnor O’Sullivan in heat 5 which again, sadly meant he missed out on the semi finals.

It seemed strange having heats in the Men’s 3000m steeplechase as it’s only purpose was to remove 3 members of the field – luckily this didn’t include Oxford’s Kirk Smith and Miles Chandler who both ran solid races over the barriers to qualify for the final on the Monday.

Sunday saw the temperature rise further making for uncomfortable conditions for distance running, however, this didn’t stop Gruen achieving another 2nd place finish in a nail-biting semi final. He ran just outside of his PB in a race that was initially pedestrian with a massive final 800m coming in 1.57. This saw a large pack sprinting down the home straight to try and achieve one of the five automatic qualification spots on offer but luckily Gruen used his signature kick, made famous in the DMR at FEAR where he secured the win for Oxford, to secure his spot in the final the following day.

Charlotte Dannatt also had a busy Sunday. She was agonisingly close to making the final, finishing one place below what was needed for qualification, but setting a new 3-second PB, which is very encouraging so early in the season. Not satisfied with two races in two days, she raced in the 4×400, helping the Oxford team to the final and writing her name into the record books as part of the 4th fastest Oxford Women’s 4×400 in history.

Miles Chandler taking flight over the water jump in the 3000m Steeplechase final on Monday


The Men’s 5000m races commenced the action on the final day of competition. Two races were run to cope with the large number of entries and final places allocated based upon the times run by athletes in both races. Oxford had two athletes in the competitive B race, Jack Millar and the returning Miles Weatherseed. Both ran solid races over the twelve-and-a-half laps, a task made more difficult by the rising temperature. Millar finished in 4th place and Weatherseed in 14th. In the gruelling A race Jamie Parkinson, the recent Oxford 2km steeplechase record holder, took to the track finishing in 15th place.

A few hours later the dynamic Oxford 5km duo of Kim Horner and Flo Scrafton took to the track. Kim was up first running in the B race which saw an Oxbridge breakaway in the latter stages. Kim battled hard and was rewarded with an impressive 2nd place and a new PB that was comfortably beneath the Full Blue time. She also comfortably beat one of the Cambridge runners, which bodes well for the fast approaching Varsity match on 19th May at the Iffley Road Track. Flo then took to the track in a high calibre A race, which included two athletes who had recently returned from the Commonwealth Games in Australia. She battled hard in a difficult race finishing 12th in the stacked field.

In the final of the Men’s Steeplechase Smith and Chandler appeared to have recovered well after the heats on Saturday, finishing 9th and 7th respectively and running far faster than they did to qualify.

Oxford had two athletes of interest in the Women’s 2km Steeplechase. BUCS indoors 1500m silver medallist Dani Chattenton demonstrated her class with an impressive 4th place finish and comfortable Blues time, whilst Anna Sharp also rose to the occasion, smashing her PB by around 20 seconds and running her first Full Blue time, an amazing feat in such tough conditions.

The last distance event of the day with Oxford interest was the Men’s 1500m which saw Alex Gruen return to the track for the 3rd day in a row – a highly difficult and exhausting task, especially after such a competitive semi final the previous day. He finished in 10th place, an impressive achievement after so many consecutive days of high level competition in the heat and in a field boasting many international athletes. All in all, it was a successful weekend for OUCCC, but we know we’ll have to raise our game again in order to succeed in our home Varsity match in a little under two weeks.


Charlotte Dannatt, St John’s College, and Alex Gruen, Balliol College


Top 10 Finish for Eoghan Totten at London Marathon

Oxford PhD student Eoghan Totten finished tenth in the 2018 London Marathon on Sunday, running the non-elite race in a time of two hours and 26 minutes.

One of over 40,000 runners completing the field, Totten will be the first Oxford athlete to earn a full blue in marathon. He completed the race, which was also his marathon debut, within the full blue standard time of two hours 30 minutes.

Earlier this year, Totten represented Northern Ireland in the Antrim International Cross Country.

Speaking about his debut, Totten told Cherwell: “I learned that you must respect the distance and that factors at variance with other, shorter distances, come into play over 26.2.

“For example, I was not aerobically taxed today but troubled by cramps from fluid intake, which impeded my running. I will learn from the experience and move forward.”

The marathon varsity match was won by the Oxford men’s team, however the Cambridge Hare and Hounds won the women’s match, bringing OUCCC’s varsity record this year to seven wins out of nine matches.

Katie Truslove, a junior dean at St Hilda’s College, led the Oxford women’s team, finishing in just under three and a half hours.

Rahil Sachak-Patwa was the second Oxford finisher with a time of two hours and 41 minutes, which falls within the half-blue standard and beats his personal best by one second. This is an improvement on last year, when Rahil collapsed during the closing stages of the marathon.

Eliud Kipchoge, who visited the Oxford Union for a talk about his marathon successes in Michaelmas, won the men’s marathon with a healthy lead, in a time of two hours and four minutes.

Vivian Cheruiyot, the 2016 Olympic 5000m champion, won her first London Marathon in the women’s race.

The marathon was the hottest on record, reaching a top of 24˚C.

In related news, Alexander Betts, a professor of Forced Migration and International Affairs and fellow at Green Templeton College, completed the 2018 Boston Marathon earlier this month.

In doing so, Betts set the world record for running the six Abbott World Marathon Majors in the fastest combined time, averaging at two hours 41 minutes.

-Alice Bruce, Mansfield College

European XC Champs 2016: Report

OUCCC was extremely proud to have two members competing in the 2016 European Cross-Country Championships in Chia, Sardinia. With an impressive third place finish at the Liverpool Cross Challenge and trial race, where less than 30 seconds separated the top eight U23 men, William Christofi secured his place on the Great Britain team. Meanwhile over in Ireland Bethanie Murray became national champion to ensure her name was on the start list for the U23 women’s event.

On race day in the Italian sunshine it was Bethanie up first, competing over 6.1km. In typical European cross-country style (ie. with pretty much no resemblance whatsoever to British cross-country), the course consisted of a fast and furious 1500m loop with man-made ramps, hay bale jumps and not a speck of mud in sight. Despite the unfamiliar terrain Bethanie performed well, achieving multiple middle distance PBs on route to 46th place. Perhaps more significantly, the unorthodox course gave Bethanie the opportunity to prove that her feet do in fact lift off the ground when she runs, as she successfully negotiated all necessary obstacles. An international steeple chase vest is surely the next obvious goal.

img-20161211-wa0005Over an equally rapid and competitive 8.1km course, Will performed exceptionally well, finishing in 33rd place individually and winning a bronze medal as part of the GB team. This fantastic achievement was celebrated with a trip to the podium, over-indulgence in a controversial choice of cereal bar, and probably some Latin story time.

Both Bethanie and Will returned to Oxford with tales of a thoroughly enjoyable trip to their first international championships. From beach runs, fancy hotels and crazy after parties to meeting AW cover stars and receiving a whole new wardrobe of team kit, it certainly sounds like an experience neither will forget quickly. And apparently the race was quite good fun too.

Full results can be found here.

Laura Fenwick, Lady Margaret Hall

Blues Varsity 2016: Report

Varsity is special. Described by many as impossible to fully understand until it has been experienced, the cross-country version of this ancient rivalry is no exception and the Blues races are the centrepiece of a day overflowing with history, tradition and nostalgia. From pre-race suits to complex spectating routes, photos with red flowers to pink-vest-wearing Bowers, and muddy water splashing to late night drunken flashing, there are countless quirks associated with the event. As Bethanie explained to this year’s freshers on the eve of their Varsity debuts, “If you have a confused question about tomorrow, the answer is probably tradition”.

We piled onto the coach at half past nine with the Blues and reserves suitably dressed up in outfit one of three for the day, and after a short delay the musical entertainment began. The ‘pump up playlist’ is a well-established coach ritual, designed to do as the name suggests and ensure everybody is suitably hyped on arrival. First up was Two Door Cinema Club, of course, followed by various other classics including a new favourite of LC’s featuring an Italian dessert. Other key track-listings were the PG rated “Fresher Prince Drop Bear”, an out-of-this-world performance of “Dan Fix You Mulryan”, a horrendously stereotypical reminder that Eoghan will in fact never run for the seconds, and one tune that has no doubt been stuck in everyone’s heads getting stronger since that very first rendition.

Amongst all of the karaoke excitement we made considerably faster progress towards our destination than we had done twelve months earlier, and in no time at all had left Archie’s bridge far behind us. French plaiting manoeuvres were conducted with their usual elegance, ribbons were distributed to runners and supporters alike, and Helene’s pink carnations were vetoed in favour of the, you guessed it, traditional red variety.

The first cross-country action of the day was the 25th Old Blues Race. Held alongside the Varsity races every year, this follows the women’s course and participants include recent Blues seeking revenge on old rivals, slightly less recent Blues who just can’t let go, and current Oxbridge students guest running because, well, why not? The former was the case for this year’s leading duo as Tom Frith (Oxford) took the win from Lewis Lloyd (Cambridge) and in doing so reversed the 2013 Men’s Blues result. A strong showing from Cambridge meant they took the overall victory.

At two o’clock Polly Keen, celebrating ten years since her individual victory as a fresher, gave the starting signal for the 41st Ladies’ Race and fourteen white vests set off in search of similar success. By the time they reached the windmill Sophia Saller, Bethanie Murray and Dani Chattenton looked comfortable running side by side in a fine display of dark blue dominance at the front of the race. Lizzie Apsley (Cambridge) ran well in a heavily outnumbered scenario to cling on for as long as possible, but by the time she reached the woods she had been decisively distanced. Feeling confident that they had secured an Oxford 1-2-3 but with no idea what was going on behind, all that was left for the leading trio to do was determine a finishing order. As they emerged from the woods and onto the memorial playing fields for the yet-to-be-named “Blues finish – who wants it?” run in to the line, it was Sophia who took the lead from Bethanie in a bid to prove that you do not need a Strava account to claim possibly the most desirable course record since “Jack Crabtree Sells Avon”. This bid was successful and Sophia, having been denied the honour by a course hiccup two years earlier, finally got her chance to break the tape on the Blues Cross-Country finishing line and add another tankard to her ever expanding collection that already included the full set of podium positions. Last year’s third place finisher Bethanie couldn’t quite match the triathlete’s surprise burst of speed on the home straight but nonetheless pulled out a well-deserved second place to round off a remarkable rise from resident camera-woman-chopper to OUCCC legend and queen of the Varsity tempo.

Sealing the podium clean sweep for good was another multisport and cross-country superstar Dani, having the race of her life when it mattered most to double the third place tankard count on the mantelpiece of 46. Helen Record showed maturity well beyond her cross-country years as she closed all the way to the line, claiming sixth place and more than making up for time lost messing around with a Lacrosse stick. With a late surge Captain Helene Greenwood caught one of the three light blues between herself and Helen to claim a brilliant ninth place and verify once and for all that there is no correlation between nail varnish and race day performance. Hannah Plaschkes finished strongly, in her trademark style, ahead of two Cambridge athletes and in eleventh place – a fantastic performance on home turf. Experienced Blue and model Oxford athlete Sarah McCuaig put in a gutsy run to close the seven-strong contingent in fourteenth place.

An incredible demonstration of talent and team work from the dark blue girls secured them a historic victory, the first for Oxford since 2011. General hysteria ensued in the finishing area as a mixture of disbelief, excitement, relief and a few happy tears spread across the faces of supporters and athletes alike. This was followed by a champagne shower for Kyle, congratulations from friends and family, lots of smiley photographs, and lots more general hysteria. Credit must go to the Cambridge septet who put up a fight on a course they have dominated in recent years, and will no doubt be back stronger in 2017.

Feet firmly back on the ground, it was time to turn attentions to the 126th Gentlemen’s Race. With William Christofi sitting out ahead of international duty, the Oxford boys had recruited Irish hero Eoghan, in the hope that his taste for obnoxiously bright hand-wear might carry him to similar heights as it had his fluorescent-fashion-sense twin and notable absentee from this year’s line-up, the 2015 champion, Mr. Mysterious Unterreiner himself. Back to the race and the boys stayed well bunched for the opening section of the gruelling twelve kilometre battle. By the first passing of the windmill Alex Howard, Jamie Parkinson, Luke Cotter, Eoghan Totten and Luuk Metselaar (dun dun duuuhhh) were all amongst the leading group, with Dan Mulryan, John Spill and Miles Weatherseed looking positive a little further back. Oliver Fox (Cambridge) then pushed on at the front and began to stretch out the field, taking Jamie with him as they rounded the top figure of eight loop, but eventually breaking away. Despite a well-timed, silver medal winning performance from Luke (no doubt inspired by race preview neglect), Cambridge took the victory and should be congratulated for a dominant display of tactics and strength.

Varsity is a special concept but it is also a cruel one. Every single one of the Oxford men gave their absolute all and it was a heart-breaking finale for such a close knit team. Hearts and souls were poured onto that course, but the harsh reality of Varsity is that with the ecstatic joy of victory comes the agonising disappointment of loss.

Life goes on and so does the Blues after-party. Alcohol was consumed, dinner was enjoyed and speeches were made (yes Helene, you did make your speech, and it was amazing). Luke declared his love for MacGregor and then fell asleep, missing out on the ultimate opportunity to find a nice girl. Helene and DBJ tore up the dancefloor, Miles proved his middle distance speed with a triumphant lap of the rugby fields, and Oxford, in the final tradition of the day, spectacularly lost the boat race. As we stood in the chilly midnight air (or downright arctic if you ask LC) waiting for the coach to collect us, and Dani got on a random bus in search of snow, the curtains were closed on another Michaelmas for OUCCC.

It has been a term to remember for Oxford University Cross-Country Club, and Kyle and the club committee deserve huge thanks for their ongoing support and dedication to a thriving community of athletes, team-mates and friends. See you at BUCS.

Laura Fenwick, Lady Margaret Hall