After a long, tiring but ultimately successful week of racing at the World University Orienteering Championships in Switzerland, CUOC runners James Ackland and Peter Molloy (your author) swapped the red, white and blue of their GB kit for the black and light blue of their mostest favouritest orienteering club: our beloved CUOC. And the occasion? Why, none less than the legendary post-WUOC beer relay, which this year attracted over 50 teams from 4 continents. For those who have not yet had the chance to experience such a fantastic race format (although it’s got nothing on our very own Voi-rienteering of course), here’s a quick explainer. Two runners, three beers each, two courses each, gaffling, mass start, sweat, blood, tears, vomit, passion, glory. You get the gist. Buckle up, kiddos.
After many hours spent discussing tactics, burning the midnight oil, plotting like wronged backbenchers with an agenda and a blue tick on twitter, we decided that James would start us off before I would bring us home to potential glory. Having scoped out the high standard of our international competition and decided that we could absolutely railroad this heady mix of world championship medallists, James kicked us off. Chop done, James ran excellently to return solidly in the leading pack, exactly where the gaffer asked.
Having soldiered through his second chop, it was my turn. Now, I must admit that I am in fact a sober cobra and so was on the 0% beer grind, however I had been handicapped by my own teammate’s purchase of 500ml cans. Cheers, James, thanks for that. He must have heard of my chopping reputation, which is as legendary as it is non-existent. I soon fought my way back to the lead pack, mincing through two junior world champions (who shall remain unnamed for the sake of their own ego) to return firmly in the proverbial mixer.
James, now feeling the effects of 1 litre of God’s nectar, held our position with a commanding third leg, which meant we were now fighting for the top 6. Cripes. After a final and predictably foul chop of my now-toasty warm ‘beer’, I was once more unto the breach dear friends, once more. However, this leg was different. Now, I had legions of punters on previous legs to deal with, as well as my sloshing stomach. It felt like O-ringen, but different in quite literally every way. Such was my determination to bring glory to CUOC, I didn’t even stop to pick up my bucket hat. Don’t say I don’t care #Iwoulddiefor3points.
However, at this point I made the fatal error of trying to avoid the line of runners in my way, instead of just ploughing through them, as was the tactic of reigning junior world champion Basile Basset and highly successful Finnish runner Topi Syrjalainen, who both snuck ahead to set up an epic sprint finish showdown. I gave it my all, but couldn’t quite summon the required beanage and finished in 5th place, before swiftly and decisively rejecting the powerful urge to violently chunder. I believe that CUOC can be rightly proud of this stellar performance. To achieve a diploma in such a high-class field is a real achievement and we felt proud to stand on the imaginary podium next to our fellow Brits, who claimed 2nd and 4th places respectively. A fantastic advertisement for a dynamic, modern Britain which gives everything on the greatest stage of them all. Roll on next time folks.