This year's Varsity Match was held in the Peak District, which was quite peakturesque. We left Cambridge on Friday night, and Dan only annoyed one bus driver by parking his car in the narrowest possible part of the street. On the way up, we started off listening to Absolute Rad 90s, but after deciding it wasn't absolutely rad enough, switched to music off Helen's phone, leading us to discover that she has three hours of Cascada, which we didn't listen to. After a quite long journey, involving more roundabouts than there are in Milton Keynes, we arrived in Hathersage and were confronted with a steep and windy uphill followed by the bumpiest lane in the world. Somehow, all the cars survived, and we arrived.
We walked in to find that the alumni had claimed the less cold of the two bunkhouses, leaving us with the downstairs one which smelt more of cows. The walls between the rooms were very thin, allowing some interesting conversations to happen, but there were beds and pillows, which was nice. After some tea, we went to bed, keen to get a good night's sleep before the excitement of the morning.
On Saturday we got up and had breakfast, including porridge which took a very very long time to cook, croissants which were way less good than last years', and lots of tea, then headed off to the race. We parked at a place called 'Surprise View', and were surprised to see quite a good view, even through the rain. It cleared up even more before the race started, giving excellent running conditions. The courses were not very long, but the terrain was rough and physical; mostly open heather moorland with some boggy bits, and some small patches of woodland near the start and finish. On the women's course, Helen had a convincing run to take the win by more than two minutes, with Fiona and Elizabeth also scoring for Cambridge. On the men's, Paul had a convincing 15 controls before losing several minutes on a very short leg, letting Aidan lead the Cambridge team home in second. Euan and Rowan completed the scoring team.
Once everyone was finished and cold enough, we headed back to the bunkhouse, where we cooled down even more in the showers. Lots of tea was drunk, and we discussed to great lengths when and where the beer race would take place, until Oxford got bored and went to the pub. We discussed for a while longer, then followed them down and went to the restaurant for the meal. It took a long time to get fed - for some reason it appears that it's difficult to cater for 50 people all at the same time. The food was good though, and there was lots of it, so everyone was happy eventually. The prize giving happened, with OUOC winning the Men's overall, and CUOC winning the Women's competition. An executive decision was taken to have the boat race back at the bunkhouse, so over the course of the next hour and a half we all went back, via some subset of the pub, the Spar and the boot of Lily's car.
Soon enough, we were finally ready for the most important race of the evening. We didn't have many pint glasses, so in a departure from standard format cans were employed. We also didn't have many competitors, so in a departure from standard format teams of 6.5 were employed. The first couple of legs seemed quite even across all the teams, but CUOC took a lead the the middle of the race, and were lead in home by a sterling performance from Rowan, giving us our fourth ever victory, stopping Oxford's run of previous wins.
The party then moved back inside, where a dancefloor was created, and some tunes were provided. Ana did her best, but sadly failed to teach people to dance properly, and we had to put a ban on jumping when we thought the floor might cave in, but it was good fun and went on for several hours before it was bedtime.
On Sunday we got up and had breakfast, including porridge which didn't cook very well in the microwave, and toast, which fused the socket, so had to be relocated to a different room. After cleaning out the barn and standing by the cars for half an hour trying to work out who was going in which, we set off for another day of fun. We drove past Surprise View, and were not surprised to not see a view, because there was a lot of fog in the way. When we got out of the cars it was cold, so we shivered for a while before starting the relays.
To minimise coldness, we had three mass starts instead of a proper relay, which meant we were done a lot faster. The terrain was a lot easier running than yesterday, but had lots of snaggy brambles near the start, so was more painful. It was less cold when you were running though, which was nice. Aidan was quite fast, and Paul was almost as fast. Fiona tried to be too fast and hurt her ankle, which was bad. Aidan tried to be too fast on a warmdown and fell on his face, which was stupid.
When everyone was done, we said our goodbyes and left, happy to be in slightly-too-warm cars, but sad to be heading back to the SOUTH. At least there's BUCS in two weeks time for the next installment of fun adventures.