On the weekend of 26/27th March, a veritable gaggle of CUOCers converged from all directions on sunny sunny Hampshire to take part in the British Long and Relay Championships taking place at Golden Valley, which only goes to show that linking an area's name to its standard of terrain is not always a good idea.
The long was shaping up to be a truly epic prospect with some monstrous course distances. Such fears were deepened when it was revealed that there would be not only an uphill run-in, but also an uphill approach to said run-in. Ouch. I would have rightly made the phone call to the court of arbitration for sport upon discovering the committing of such a heinous crime, but I was too busy reading about pea fowl in the final details. No, I still have literally no idea what they are either.
Out on the courses, club members pushed through sweaty conditions, big hills, and endless path running to put in some very respectable performances. On the junior courses, Peter Molloy took a 3.5 minute win over his competitors to claim the M20E title, which is all the more impressive considering he had to CARRY young Sam Griffin for 38 out of the 66 minutes (if I do say so myself). Olly Tonge also put in a strong effort to claim sixth. Your author can report that he very much looked like he had checked in to bonk hotel whilst on a particularly brutal climb to the 11th control, so must be commended for his consistency and perseverance in finishing so strongly.
On the big boys' course, the mere act of finishing a) without having mispunched and b) alive must be considered as an achievement. Happily, all CUOCers did this. Having been just pipped by DRONGO's very own Luke Fisher, Grey Grierson led home the Cambridge contigent in an impressive 11th place, with James Ackland nipping at his heels in 13th. James, to use his own words, 'went to a very special place after finishing'. But where, I here thee not ask? Who knows really - portaloos, podium catering, portaloos, luke's car boot, portaloos? Dom Dakin and Lachlan Chavasse also acquitted themselves excellently on this mammoth course - Dom even tried so hard that he literally did not notice me run right past him in the exact same place on two occasions #noreallyI'mfine
Heads soon turned to Sunday's relay, which everyone was looking forward to purely because it wasn't such a sodding long way. James, Luke, Lachlan and Pete all lined up for the mass start in Men's open and not one of us committed the crime of banter-starting - well done us. Lachlan must be commended for his devotion to the straight route to #1, which saw him nearly take the lead thanks to such grit and determination. Pete and Luke soon found themselves in a nifty little chasing pack with honorary DRONGO member Phil Vokes, and were keeping the pace high as they pinged through the various sections of forest. The lead between these three changed hands more times than a Sunday lola's ticket (sorry) and eventually Pete grit his teeth and led the pack home in 5th, all whilst feeling the pressure of an in-form Luke breathing down his neck. James was close behind, which is impressive considering he had settled on the initial strategy of undertaking a world tour of different gaffles. As Martin Luther King once said, 'why not visit more than one gaffle, you might learn something'. (Probs didn't say this to be fair)
Dom and Olly took up the mantle for their respective teams on second leg, and special mention must be made to Stanley Heap, who came to the rescue and completed our CUOC team. He thus proved that it is indeed possible to escape the neverending propaganda and systematic brainwashing of EUOC, even if only for a brief day in sunny Hampshire.
Overall, this was a tough old weekend of high-speed, long distance racing, and all members are worthy of high levels of respect for their performances. Except Lachlan. Lachlan left his shoes and socks in the car park. Presumably to improve the aerodynamics of the long drive back to Somerset.