Thousands of miles, gallons of mud and half a dozen cross country races so far this academic year culminated on February 1st as Newcastle University’s Cross-Country (NUAXC) team took on the BUCS Championships.
Hosted by our friendly Scottish neighbours, Edinburgh’s prestigious Holyrood Park was the venue in 2020 – a relief after recent years had seen pilgrimages to fields as far-flung as Exeter and London. A flatter terrain than many of the team’s runners who had competed in the local Harrier League races were accustomed to, there were just a few water features and churned up corners between the team and some impressive times.
In the Men’s A race it was Chris Larkin, Taylor Glover, Jack Douglas, Will Brockman, David Warnes and Evan Hosking who lined up for NUAXC. The whole field went off like absolute rockets, making for a painful drag into the second half of the race.
Nonetheless, support from the other NUAXC members on the sidelines was raucous and helped the team to impressive finishes in a field of 337 of the country’s best university athletes. Larkin sailed home in 36:02 for 100th place, with Glover just 17 runners behind. Just over two minutes separated the rest of the Newcastle field, who all placed in the top 251.
The Women’s A race was a hotly contested affair between the Newcastle team of Amy Fuller, Shona Haston, Lauren Davies-Beckett and Emily Oakshott. The ceremonial pre-race bagpipes only served to up the ante as Fuller, Haston and Davies-Beckett pushed one another to finishes less than one minute apart – all in the top 100 runners. Oakshott finished momentarily after, chomping at captain Davies-Beckett’s heels, with an impressive performance as credit to months of committed training.
Earlier in the day, the two B races had opened proceedings. In the men’s competition, Sam Hansen had the whole field sweating just 100 meters in with a flawless execution of former NUAXC captain Sean Haycock’s “start fast, maintain the speed and sprint finish” mantra- ‘yeeting’ himself into the top five off the start line. However, having pumped himself and the rest of Scotland up pre-race with Flares bangers, Toby Loveday came through the field to finish first from the Newcastle team in 30:46. Sean Barry was a minute behind with Hansen coming in third. Every runner put forward by NUAXC finished in the top 600 of the near 650 strong category, pleasing performances all round.
For the women’s short competition, the day’s opener, there was an intense inter-club race between Meg Ellison and Rebecca Charlton. Over the six-kilometre course, Ellison just managed to pip Charlton at the last minute, a mere second separating the runners. All 11 runners came home within three minutes of each other in the feisty affair.
Another BUCS Cross Country checked off (and celebrated in style that night), thanks must go out to Chris Larkin and Lauren Davies-Beckett for organising the weekend. The big one may be done, but Harrier League races in coming weeks continue, with some athletes turning their eyes to track season shortly after!