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Lancaster University Running Club set off in high spirits towards Stirling to compete in the most difficult inter-university running event of the year, BUCS cross country. There were great performances from the whole team to make this a particularly good event.
After making their way up the previous evening, Saturday dawned cool and crisp as the team made their way to Stirling University. After registering, it was time to survey the course. The route started a quarter of a mile from the main campus, up a small hill, and skirted round a golf course as well as crossing playing fields and finishing through some woodland. It included a good variety of terrains with muddy sections, some hills and narrow sections along the tree-lined path making the course interesting and moderately challenging.
The first race of the day was the Men’s A race, with a field of 293 of the country’s finest student athletes. Lancaster had a strong team of six runners competing on the 11.1km route. First home was Phil Robertson in an impressive 115th position in 39:38. There was a close battle for 2nd position within the club between Tom Roethenbaugh and Ryan Stevenson, the latter hitting trouble in the second lap when his shoe came loose, but continued running before kicking it off in the final lap and continuing to run a strong race finishing in 42:20, 10 seconds behind his team mate up the final muddy straight.
Ho Hin Henry Chan was the next Lancaster runner to finish, completing the team of four that were eligible to score, finishing in 43:01 in 193rd place. Matthew Hamer was next back finishing in 45:03 and followed in by Stuart McLeod’s tough performance completing the overall Lancaster effort. This put Lancaster in 31st place out of the 49 competing universities, importantly beating York and remaining the number one university in Lancashire, putting the team in a strong position before the 50th anniversary of Roses.
Next up was the women’s race with a field of 442 competing in the 6.4km race, but only three mattered for Lancaster. First back in 140th place and a great time of 27:11 was Lauren Gowland, who put in a sterling performance to finish really strongly; Laura Sullivan ran well too and was next to finish for Lancaster with a time of 30:24. The team was completed by Jenny Watts running particularly well, considering her late joining of the team and the fact she was making her cross country debut. Overall the women’s team came 42nd out of the 48 universities fielding a team.
The final race of the day was the Men’s B race. Primarily a triathlete, Sam Walsh was the first home on the increasingly churned up 7.9km course, finishing in 169th position with a time of 31:53. Next to finish was Daniel Preston, running a great race to finish 302nd; Nicholas Barton finished 16 places behind in a time of 37:12 whilst Toby Hecht was the next to cross the finishing line for Lancaster University in a time of 40:11. This placed the B team in 66th out of the 77 teams competing in this race.
Overall then, an impressive performance at BUCS from Lancaster when compared with the results of local rivals and a great culmination of the cross country season for the University heading into a hotly anticipated Roses.