Saturday saw Oxford University Cross Country Club take on Thames Hare & Hounds, and the elements, in a hectic, snow-covered race on Wimbledon Common.
In the men’s race Oxford colours featured strongly at the front, with 4 dark blues tracking a home athlete over the first 3 miles – the only way to stick to a confusing course. Sporadically marked with indistinguishable white flags, some of which had been stolen by locals, as soon as Andrew Penney (Lincoln) and Will Mycroft (New) took up the front running, the lead four Oxford athletes missed a turn, adding 300 meters to the course. Despite catching the leaders up again, Penney, Oliver Langford (Linacre) and Mycroft only got lost again taking a wrong turn, jogging in 15 minutes later. Running into the final field with his team mates nowhere to be seen, bemused club captain Henry Mitchell of Pembroke was first Oxford home in 2nd place.
The women by comparison had fewer navigational issues, running strongly as captain Naomi Webber (Worcester) finished 1st woman, followed by Alison Walsh (St Anne’s) in 3rd.
Cold and chaotic, this was nonetheless a great event with Oxford runners looking fit and fast ahead of BUCS Cross Country in a fortnight’s time, in spite of the chill. As summarised by numerical expert Will ‘Chubby Arms’ Mycroft: “0. The temperature at which it is acceptable to cancel a cross country race… In Kelvin”