It’s in the Baggs! Imperial lift silverware after final race in the London Universities Cross Country League

It was a glorious Wednesday afternoon in the middle of February – the hottest winter day on record – which was no surprise to many of Imperial’s cross country runners who knew this competition had been hotting up for some time.

The final fixture in the London Universities and Colleges Cross Country League was to take place just a (7km) stone’s throw from Beit Quad – in the fields behind the infamous HMP Wormwood Scrubs.

Prior to the race, Imperial were leading the women’s league, with the B team also clinging to the podium in third.

The men’s team were looking fairly comfortable in third place in the men’s league, but there was still everything to play for going into this final event.

Most importantly of all, Imperial were sitting atop the mixed league – a new competition for this year that combines the scores of the women’s and men’s team placings in races to crown the ultimate overall cross country squad.

Starting the day just 2 points clear of UCL meant that everyone had to put in a big race to ensure the first name engraved on the flashy new silverware would be the ancient runes of I-M-P-E-R-I-A-L.

After sunbathing as a warm-up and a rousing team talk, the squad took their place on the start line alongside other student runners from across London and beyond.

Before they knew it they were off, flying down the back straight of the Scrubs like escaped prisoners, before the faux-convicts took a sharp turn to take them up towards some thick foliage.

Amogst the navy and red vests were a number of candidates for overall individual medals.

In the men’s race Niki Faulkner was hoping to jump up to the podium, having raced three of four previous races and with everyone’s top four races to score he was a strong favourite for the silver medal overall. Dubious pre-race calculations suggested a simple eleventh place finish would guarantee the silver.

In the simultaneous yet shorter women’s race, Imperial star athletes Kate Olding and Georgia Curry were tied for gold going into the race. With third place in the league well out of the running, this final race was a straight shootout for the gold. Both athletes went into the race carrying minor injuries but were determined to do everything to bring home the fabled gold.

With four scoring members for each team it was also important that the women’s squad had sufficient depth to allow the B team to outscore Reading’s A team and secure an unprecedented double podium for the women.

In the men’s race Niki stormed home in third with the A team packing strongly: Oliver Newton came 12th, Joe Pomfret finished 16th, Henry Hart 17th, and Mihaly Ormay 22nd.

In the women’s race, Georgia Curry was pipped to the line by a St Mary’s athlete, with the rest of the top five filled by Imperial’s Alex Mundell in third, Chloe Baker in fourth, and Alix Vermeulen in fifth. The entire B team also finished in the top 20!

All that was left of the day was the prize-giving. First were the individual awards for the top-scoring six athletes across their best four races in the league. Fresher Alix Vermeulen was pleasantly surprised to place fourth, and was just three points behind third. Kate Olding was loudly cheered as she collected her silver medal after succumbing to an unfortunate injury in the final race, but that left the gold medal which went to Georgia Curry who just pipped Kate to the title by 2 points, scoring a ludicrous 597 out of 600 points overall.

Over in the men’s, Niki Faulkner recieved the silver medal, finishing just 2 points behind the winning athlete from St Mary’s with a total of 791 out of 800 points.

In the overall standings, the women’s A teams and B teams scored first and third respectively, with the A team receiving an unnecessarily large shield.

The Men’s took home the bronze medals before the entire squad roared when it was confirmed they had won the inaugural Mike Baggs Trophy for best mixed squad.

The gleaming trophy was embraced by all team members and paraded around the Union later that night at ACC.

Amazingly, it survived the night and only time will tell if ICXCAC will be able to retain the trophy in 2020.

CROSS COUNTRY: IC have record turnouts at first race

The shouts of “ICXC we so sexy” lit up the first race of the London Colleges League last Wednesday at Parliament Hill. The London College League (LCL) is a series of six cross country races which take place throughout first and second term all over London, including Richmond and Bushy Park. A remarkably dry October day on Wednesday, the lumps and bumps along the grassy and gravel tracks still presented challenging terrain for the unwary. With their shiny new red & blue Imperial vests in hand, the newest members of the club were ready to represent their university against the masses of UCL, Kings, Brunel and St. Mary’s to name but a few.

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Record numbers of runners in shiny new vests

A substantial turnout made this an excellent race for both sides with 150 finishers in the men’s race and 103 in the women’s race. Imperial also had a record number of runners for an LCL with 48 on the start line. The start was slightly maniac as usual with many spectators wondering whether Cross Country and Athletics Club Captain, William Jones, had got a head start as he sped up the looming hill to take photos of the team.

Sarah Johnson led the women’s team coming in an excellent 9th after a gruelling half marathon the weekend before. New recruits Charlotte Van Zelst and Kate Olding both had excellent debut races for the club coming in 13th and 16th respectively. Despite complaining about not racing until halfway round, Women’s Captain Alex Mundell finished the Imperial Women’s 1st team coming in 23rd, placing them 3rd out of 22 teams.

Ellie Johnstone finished well in 32nd, followed closely by Leanne Lyons. Freya Espir also had a strong first race back finishing 42nd and Sofia Bettanin ran very well in her debut too coming in 51st, placing the Imperial 2nd team in a strong 10th. The women’s 3rd and 4th teams finished in 14th and 17th.

In the men’s race Joe Selley led out a solid first lap to gain a well-deserved 5th for his first race in an Imperial vest despite limited marking, followed by Chris Allison in 7th. Harry Scriven worked hard throughout the racing groups behind and gained 25th place. Fergus Johnson paced well and was hotly pursued by Greg Jones in 41st and 44th respectively, new man Daniel Garcia following closely behind in 45th. This places the Imperial Men’s 1st team in a strong 4th position out of 29 teams.

Rob Tomkies loving the camera

Circuits specialist Lewis Jackson powered through to 49th, followed by Joss Knight coming in 60th who had already cycled to the race beforehand. Core coach Edmund Jones crunched his way to an excellent 68th, with fresher Finn Collyer putting in an excellent first display to finish 72nd. Rob Tomkies and Luis Munoz Heinen finished a strong Imperial 2nd team to place them 11th in the standings. The men’s 3rd and 4th teams finished 15th and 19th overall.

The club was extremely impressed with all new comers, from those veterans of the mud and cold to those who have never done a cross country race before. Many committee members commented that this was the strongest Imperial team that they had seen in many years and were confident that the club is in safe hands with its new members. Once again ICXCAC would like to congratulate all those who raced and look forward to seeing more new faces at the next LCL on Wednesday 2nd November at Mitcham Common.

View of the daunting start…

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