In a sporting weekend that included the Super Bowl, the start of the two Six Nations tournaments and Davis Cup tennis ties, it is the 2018 BUCS Cross-Country Championships that are most worthy of comment and celebration.
LSE sent its biggest ever team of 22 runners to compete alongside the most elite athletes that the country has to offer on a brutal course that was situated in the deceptively peaceful and previously green area of Uxbridge.
The LSE team were high in confidence going into the race with the infinite wisdom from our new coach, Maureen, still ringing in our heads: "it is ok to be uncomfortable". Inspiring stuff. Unsurprisingly, our triumphs were by no means limited to just our participation. The day kicked off with the women's race and our perpetual success story: Typhaine Christiaen set the tone for the event by finishing 54th out of a high quality field of 718 runners. Only 20 seconds could separate our next two runners across the finish line as Martha Wightman and Kailee Traficante made sure that LSE would be remembered for more than our fancy new vests. The women's team finished in a very respectable 25th place out of 60 participating universities and, most importantly, we left the women from King's College in our muddy wake.
The men's long race was next to spread their talent across the now unevenly mown fields. The race commentator was very keen to remind us all that this race was being used by some runners as a practice race for national championships. Undeterred by the intimidating warnings, Amrik Gill put his charming and infectious smile to one side as he tore through the competition to finish 171st. Joseph Shaw and Mitch Hayes both stormed the course to finish within a minute of Amrik which is a sentence that is more than complementary in and of itself.
With the course now doubling up as both a cross-country route and an example of the fragility of our precious ecosystems, the men's short race was impressively still a display of finesse and grace. Ed Hockin managed to convert his home turf advantage into a sensational run in the men's short race, running the 8.4 kilometres in 36 minutes. Lawrence Frape managed to overcome a recent injury and an even more recent lack of sleep to maintain LSE's strong showing throughout the day.
Perhaps the most impressive displays were put on by our team members that decided no race should be completed without spilling blood and laying your body on the line. Kirsten McNally showed immense strength to finish in the top 500. This was despite making her slightly gruesome mark on the course with a self-inflicted spike injury that led to universal respect, a great story and some loving attention from Martha's mum. Club treasurer, Fionn Elliot, will not be counting herself lucky as her single-minded drive for the finish line could only be matched by the tightness and fragility of her Achilles tendon. However the drama was not just confined to the women's race. Club President, smooth mover, and all-round fan favourite: Antonin Boissin managed to finish the race by overcoming what "felt like an asthma attack" but sounded more like he did not train hard enough!
As Mitch had told me before the race: "the best part of running is having run". Limping, shivering but feeling very pleased with ourselves the team did its utmost best to enjoy our successes by painting the town well and truly brown. It turns out that running only brings out the hidden character traits in all of us. After the run, Kirsten reaffirmed her gritty persona by having to fight all staff members at the local slug and lettuce to feed her something. Amrik displayed his endurance and commitment with a late-night squatting show. Likewise, Ed kept his winning streak going with impressive determination to be first to the full English breakfast the next morning. Eyes on the prize. The Brunel University Student Union hosted the after party and social secretary, Andy Cowan, convinced us all to spend the evening in the silent disco jamming to S Club 7.
If none of this has put you off ever putting on your trainers again, you'll be well suited to joining in the fun. Come and find us via fb (LSE Athletics and Running), Instagram/ Twitter (@LSErunners), email email@example.com or check out our Website www.lseathleticsrunning.co.uk!