DUXC put in a respectable showing at the last BUCS Cross Country meet of the season in Brighton, with some fantastic individual performances in a highly competitive field and on a very treacherous course.
BUCS Cross Country is of a notoriously high standard and Durham run significantly fewer races than other heavyweights such as Birmingham and Loughborough so a team win was not on the cards.
This was the first time in recent years that DUXC had raced at Brighton so there was no warning of what the course would be like. It transpired to be one of the most difficult races of the calendar with matters made worse by rain showers during the races, reducing the course to a mud bath. For some athletes running their first ever competitive race for DUXC, it was a baptism of fire into cross country racing.
Nevertheless, there was cause for celebration thanks to the women’s team. Jen Walsh put in a sterling performance to finish in the top 10 of the women’s race, while Rachel Dunn also finished admirably in the top 30. In the Men’s A race, a gruelling 12 kilometre test of endurance, Pete Bray managed a top 100 finish, a fantastic achievement considering the calibre of the other teams. A special mention must go to Joe Carton for finishing the race respectably. Carton is traditionally an 800 metre athlete and was only drafted into the A race as a last minute replacement after a drop out.
In the B Race, Ali Hills (a track sprinter), fulfilled an age-old Durham tradition by leading the pack into the first corner while fully painted in Palatinate Purple. Alas, Hills could not maintain his blistering speed from the start but his teammates managed to do so, albeit at a more consistent pace. David Robertson was the first to score for Durham and was closely followed by Rob Torch.
Unlike other teams, this race offered an opportunity for many casual runners in DUXC to represent the university in a competitive race. Everybody involved found the whole weekend to be a fun experience and it has in turn brought the club closer together. The thanks for this must go to Dave Rich and Mariama Dryak who organised all of the necessary logistics to ensure the weekend went as smoothly as possible, as well as racing themselves.
For DUXC, the cross-country season is now over for BUCs. However, with the Indoor BUCS Championships in Sheffield fast approaching in the coming weeks, there will be no resting for some of these athletes, who will now switch the muddy hills for the indoor track. There is much optimism for Durham to perform well in Sheffield. Hopefully, there will be some big results.