With Varsity 2023 being held abroad in Czechia and over the Easter holiday, sixteen CUOCers came from all over and via many methods to assemble in Potkavarna, where we would be staying for the next week.
After a hefty journey, CUOC were already ready for a rest day, which of course involved restful activities such as sprint training in nearby city, Liberec, a trip to the water park, and a chaotic Micro-O around Potkavarna (with a 75% mispunch rate to get it out of our systems).
Wednesday was the first day of training for most of the CUOCers and a great way to get our heads around the steep sandstone crags. A very welcome delivery of quiche made at Potkavarna greeted us in the carpark before we headed back into the forest for a fun relay in the afternoon.
Thursday training was in a flatter (and closer) area which was still covered in snow and so once an acceptable number of courses had been done, full advantage of the remaining snow on the ground was taken through the construction of a “snow-Drongo” (pictured). Afternoon activities included an indoor exercise planned by former CUOC captain, Lachlan, which turned out to be running up and down the Potkavarna stairs forty times cleverly disguised as a memory game (but was great fun, nonetheless).
Friday was the last day of training before the Varsity match and so we returned to crag-heavy territory for a last refresher followed by an afternoon peg relay and some last minute map-geeking in the evening.
The Varsity match itself was set to be a tense one, with key members of both CUOC and OUOC absent it was all to play for. That being said, CUOC made the tricky feat of a full Varsity sweep look easy (so much for “no Pete, no heat”). James Ackland finally broke his streak of Varsity flops with the winning time of 38:10 (and no mispunching!). Dom and Matej followed into 2nd and 3rd place in the mens race and kudos must go to Olly who, despite injuring himself halfway round and walking the rest of the way, still managed a very respectable time of 62:54 which landed him 5th place. The womens match was similarly tense with Sarah coming 1st with a time of 42:58 and great performances from Hanna, Emma, Ana and Sophie leading to an overall CUOC win!
The evening of celebration started with another win against OUOC in the alcoholic boat race (by merit of actually having five team members who drink alcohol), followed by the banquet at Potkavarna. After we had eaten so much we could barely move, we had some Czech dancing lessons accompanied by the accordion, followed by singing well into the night including such classics as “Do TrailO” and other Disney songs in their original, non-orienteering-related forms.
Breakfast the next morning was probably one of the less energetic meals of the week but nevertheless, CUOC persisted, re-donning our (wet and muddy) shoes and kit for the final race of the trip: the mixed-teams relay around the Potkavarna grounds and surrounding area. The course was a nine-leg, mass start relay with three legs per person: a micro-O to start followed by a longer leg around the surrounding forest and another micro-O to finish.
Several hot chocolates and many card games later, CUOC journeyed home/onwards over the following days for a well deserved rest!
Overall, a wonderful week was had by all doing fabulous training and cultivating increasingly friendly relationships with the O*ford rivals, only to ultimately come out with big wins in the Varsity match. Well done to all of CUOC for an incredible week and Varsity performance!! A massive thank you to DrongO for all their planning efforts and for all the drivers (Ana and Dom especially) for ferrying us around all week.