UoNAC kicked off the biggest weekend of the year with a long bus journey to Exeter – what better way to prepare for a race than 5 hours in a confined space with your team-mates and a megaphone? Despite horror stories of snow on the roads in South West England, the team made it to Exeter city centre and prepared to wage (muddy) war against the universities of the UK. Bright and early Saturday morning, coach driver Kevin led us down some questionable country lanes to the esteemed, venerated and well respected race venue of… Bicton College, Budleigh Salterton. A quick course walk and a not-so-quick queue for the 5 portaloos (?!) and it was almost time to race.
A surprisingly warm and sunny day produced perfect racing conditions, and as 700 women lined up at 12 o clock, the anticipation was palpable. Cross-Country Captain Kiri Marsh led the way as a sea of green and gold streamed over the start line, face paint and mud mixing together as the women began their 6 kilometre course. Kiri maintained her lead for UoN, storming into 46th place. Just under a minute later, Hannah Novakoviccrossed the line in an impressive 74th, with Jess Robinson rounding off the scoring team in 90th. For this fantastic feat, Jess earned herself “women’s race of the day!” Becky Berger-North and Martha Coyle crossed the line with just 2 seconds between them! Martha’s detour into the water feature cost her a few seconds, but what she lost in time she gained in kudos, and in her own words “it was definitely worth it!” Returning from injury and once again demonstrating her prowess, Chloe Bird crossed the line just seconds later, with Georgia White and Claire Read battling up the final hill to finish in the top 160 runners! Ellie Armstrong followed close behind, her return from injury exciting everyone. Lucy Brett, Anna Vinnicombe, Tabi Morison, Jess Harbert and Alice Hughes worked extremely well to finish in the top 400 runners of a strong women’s field. Sally Rose, Letitia McMullan, Daisy Slater and Heather Lambert finished within a minute of each other, working well together to get up those tough hills to the finish. Ruby McMillan and Jana Michel joined forces to cross the line within 0.4 seconds of each other, with Caitlin Masterson, Ella Morgan and Michelle Ruas not far behind. The women’s team was rounded off by María Ángeles Jiménez Sigstad, Tifany Dubois and Michelly Cristina Silva, who each had exceptional races and completed their first BUCS in #greenandgold! The Women’s A Team (Kiri, Hannah and Jess) finished an impressive 22nd out of 189 teams, so a big well done to them and to everyone who competed.
Following the excitement of the women’s race, the men’s A team joined some famous faces for the men’s long race (10km). The gruelling three lap course was designed test the team, but following a photo finish from 1st and 2nd place Emile Cairess and Patrick Dever who were separated by just 0.1 seconds, the UoN boys showed us what they’re made of. The first finisher from the men’s A team, and possibly the best performance of the day, UK U20 top ten 10k runner Thomas Trimble was first over the line in 53rd, improving on his performance last year despite a recent injury. He was followed just 15 seconds later by Vice-President Sam Stevens in 62nd. George Wheeler and Dylan Stanway (an A team debutant and another candidate for “race of the day”) rounded off the scoring team in 81st and 85th, giving Nottingham University A Team an extremely impressive final position of 11th out of 50. Adam Thorpe returned from injury to cruise into 108th, whilst Jack Allison ran extremely well in his first BUCS A race after a late call up to the team to finish 201st out of over 300 athletes. Well done lads!
The final race of the day was the men’s B race, over a slightly shorter but no less gruelling 8km. With 24 UoN athletes entered, this was not a race to be missed. A naked runner (unnamed) started off the race, whilst the rest of the athletes (clothes firmly on!) swarmed over the start line. As spectators flocked to the water feature, Nathan Gibson led the way for UoN, with a truly impressive, finish of 82nd place – a 155 place improvement on last year! Owen Thomas followed close behind in 101st, with Sam Broomhead and Daniel Cresswell crossing the line within three seconds of each other to finish 131st and 133rd respectively. Ewan McLachlan returned from Scotland to finish 154th, a 62 place improvement on last year. Matteo Gala, Charles Barry and Sean Tarrant finished within 10 seconds of each other, each producing an incredible performance. Charles actually overtook 113 people on his final lap to finish 234th and earn himself the “men’s B race of the day” award! Zach Jennings, Saul Westbrook, Joe Bryan, Oli Dighton and Harry Buchanan finished in the next minute, crossing the line in a wave of green and gold. Ryan Gangloff, Jody Meredith and William Angwin were next to battle through the final hills to the finish, Jody’s pink headband ensuring everyone could see him (But was this really Jody? Where was Bruce…? #conspiracy). Toby Cripps was another athlete from UoN who was game enough to attempt the “water feature” – a real crowd pleaser and an impressive first BUCS. George Leete didn’t let a week long drug trial and a pesky injury stop him from racing (or drinking!). Adam Huckerby, Jacob Hodge and Lee Taylor rounded off the men’s team, with a 37 place improvement on last year for Mr. Lee Taylor! Honourable mentions to Adam Houchell, Chris Fielding, Zili Shen and Nicola Ravenhill who battled round as much of the course as they could before lending their voices to the cheering masses as our athletes crossed the line. The men’s B race A Team (Nathan, Owen and Sam B) finished an impressive 26th out of 106 teams – well done lads! A shout out to Amy Chalmers, Franki Salter, Zoe Langham, Calum Duck and Cam Bell for making the trip to all the way to Exeter to support the team despite not racing due to injury and to El Presidente Makun Madar who, despite the race being 15 – 25x his normal distance, still came down to support! Great racing by everyone – hope you all enjoyed BUCS 2019 – train hard as there still many races to come. Looking forward to a track and road season full of PBs!