BUCS has long been one of the biggest weekends of the year for EUOC and this time was no exception. For the past 7 years we have come away with the overall title and we weren’t about to give that up. This year the championships were to take place in Sheffield, alongside lots of other sports, so on Friday afternoon we headed down on a coach provided by the Sports Union. Spirits were high, despite Newcastle’s rush hour traffic and our coach driver’s jovial demeanour. A few (ok, nearly 7) hours later we arrived and a last minute trip to the supermarket was made for instant porridge and croissants for those of us unable/unwilling to part with the extortionate price of a Premier Inn breakfast.
We awoke on Saturday bright-eyed, bushy-tailed and ready to race. However, for some reason unknown to man, the coach drivers insisted that we take 2 coaches to the event. Apparently it wasn’t fair if one of them got to stay and lounge around the hotel. Not to worry, it meant we got plenty of space to spread out and it was well worth it for the look on the organisers face when we turned up and announced we had brought a coach for our trophies. The area being used for the individual race was an exposed moor in the Peak District and when flakes of snow appeared they weren’t exactly met with huge enthusiasm. The first starters had no choice but to brave the elements, although they didn’t seem too deterred. Kristian Roberts took the win on the Men’s B course with an impressive margin of almost 3 hours, despite stopping for a lie down on the run-in, and Rachel Rayne and Heather Hale took 1st and 3rd on the Women’s B course respectively.
As the day wore on sights were turned to the elite women, where once again Edinburgh dominated. Linnea Gustafsson came out on top, with 5 other Edinburgh athletes placing in the top 10 and in total occupying 15 of the top 25 positions. There were also some impressive results from the men with Oleg Chepelin taking the bronze and Mark Nixon coming in 5th. It was bad news for one of Edinburgh’s other top men however as Alasdair ‘Sponge’ Mcleod was struck down by injury. Eye-witness reports have him letting out a “blood-curdling scream” as he went over on his ankle. He was whisked off on his own private coach (we knew it would come in handy at dome point) for a verdict from the physio. It wasn’t good and meant that Ruairi Short, who himself had a good run for 21st, was promoted to the 1st team for the relays the next day.
We left for our Saturday night accommodation in Endcliffe student village to warm up and get ready for the famous BUCS social which, with Sheffield organising, promised to be a good one. The theme was a Rubix Cube, with each uni wearing a different colour and then swapping clothes throughout the night to end up with delightfully tasteful outfit. Swathed in all possible clashing shades of green the night kicked off in the bar at the accommodation before heading off down to the Student Union. At the prize giving it was announced that Edinburgh was leading the overall competition with the relays still to go. We’ll leave the gory details out of this report, but let’s just say Charlotte’s mystery man is yet to be found, Jack revealed his fondness for cheese toasties, and that we’re all looking forward to the club being bought a round by Florence after still being drunk the following morning and mis-punching.
It was an early start for the relays the next day, perhaps a bit too early for some. After some slight organisational hitches and a delayed start the men were off, and Ruairi had a great run to bring the men’s first team back in 7th only a couple of minutes down in the lead. Oleg, after his bronze medal effort the day before, put in another great performance to bring the team up to 2nd with just one leg to go. He handed over to Mark Nixon who, despite posting the second fastest split of the day, couldn’t hold off a great final leg from Sheffield’s Jonny Crickmore and brought us home for the bronze. It was another great day for Edinburgh’s women taking 1st,2nd,4th and 5th and narrowly missing out on a clean sweep of the podium. It was a brilliant all round effort from the team and after some last minute calculations it was announced that Edinburgh, for the 8th straight year, had taken the BUCS overall title with a 16 point gap back to Sheffield in 2nd. It was also great to see such a range of universities being represented this year and for Durham, a definite up and coming club, to take 3rd place overall.
After all that excitement it was time to head back to the coach and start the long journey home. A big shout out goes to our captain JP for keeping us organised this weekend and also to Oleg Chepelin and Kirsten Strain, who once again put in great and this time final performances for EUOC at BUCS after many years of ‘service’!