BUCS Cross Country Championships: (Birmingham):
In terms of cross-country BUCS weekend is quite simply the biggest and best weekend of the year. Races of a phenominally high standard, but in a friendly atmosphere where someone who finishes 250th is cheered just as loudly as someone who finishes 1st, followed by an after-party which (as Alex Robinson would say) can only be described as "absolute carnage."
For the majority of the impressively large 33 strong team (some 15 more than last year!) the trip began at half two as we left Durham as our friendly but clueless driver began a three hour journey. Unfortunately, two hours later we'd got about as far as Darlington, and it was not until half eight that we finally rolled into to our hotel - surprisingly nice given its location in the, ahem 'socially deprived' West Brommich area.
It was decided that the best way to fight the boredom of a traffic jam, was to do a sweepstake of the England v Wales match, where (after myself, Jack and Ed all found that we couldn't successfully count up to 30 correctly) Alice used her copious rugby knowledge to correctly pick Chris Ashton and win herself the £15 jackpot.
The evening meal turned into a three way decision. Risking the West Brom nightlife (the brave option) to go out and buy some food, staying in to eat a carvery in the hotel restaurant (value for money option), or eating in front of the rugby in the hotel bar (the getting vital carbs for the race option), where I've never heard the words 'spaghetti carbonara' and 'pint of tap water' uttered so regularly.
However, nothing was going to stop the 'stalwarts of the team' (namely Pete, Ollie and Alistair) from enjoying a pre race pint. Just a quick mention also (as I know that he really wants to be reminded) that Pete (and Phil, but mainly Pete) let down the entire male race by losing a pool match to the girls (Bria and Helena I think but I stand to be corrected.) Unfortunately, they then behaved ever worse by squirming out of the forfeit (running around the carpark in their boxers), but it hasn't been forgotten!
After dinner an early night was had in anticipation of the big day ahead. After most but not all of the team fought off raging student hunger and avoided a hot breakfast, we all got our 'race-faces' on (I think Martin's was the best) and set off to for the 20 minute journey to the course.
However, very optimistic journey estimates were becoming a recurring theme of the trip, and due to the coach drivers sat nav being about as helpful as using a map of Durham to navigate around Birmingham, it took the help of most of the local community before we arrived, a casual 45 minutes after setting off.
,,, but not before some intellectual 'pub names banter' had been enjoyed by all.
On arrival, we discovered that the course was only accessible after a 15 minute walk/assault course, which included climbing a waist-high railing...
....and a housing estate...
...before we arrived.
Due to the ridiculous length of this report, the race itself is covered in a separate report, imaginatively called 'BUCS Race.'
With the races over, it was back to the hotel to check up on a ridiculous day of Premier League action (where I have never been more distressed as an Arsenal fan.) A good majority then felt the exersize rush again and headed off to the hotel swimming pool where (after a long wait) the jacuzzi was a very good post-race recovery.
At six we headed back out (cue another bus driver sat nav malfunction) to Frankie and Benny's for a well deserved feast of the finest food Birmingham has to offer.
And Ed staked a claim for the treasurers position next year...
Then it was off to a bar for some DUAXC style 'man of the match' and 'dick of the day' antics. For her brilliant run, Kat was a virtually unanimous man of the match, while due to the fact that she had brought no ID for a night out out in Brumland (and was forced, along with her loyal companion Louisa, to go to Weatherspoons instead) Sophie was 'dick of the day.'
It was decided that due to his flawless captaincy skills, Jack should reap the traditional reward of a dirty pint.
That got the team's runner, come mascot, come after party co-ordinator Alex thinking... and before long trials were underway to find the DUAXC 'A' and 'B' drinking team... while a complex networking operation was in place to ensnare the likes of Oxford, St Mary's, Lancaster, Swansea and Manchester into the unofficial BUCS boat-racing contest.
Meanwhile the girls (reunited with Sophie and Louisa) were having fun of their own.
And so to the after party, where the boat race turned into a slight anti-climax as we were beaten by a very fired up St Mary's team. Comments that 'at least we're going to get a proper degree' were heard very frequently, but sadly didn't apply to the re-match, where we lost again... to Oxford!
After that we retired to the bottom floor for some impressive danse moves... (One of which was definetly invented in the north)
...to see some old faces...
...and for some interesting photos (where the phrase 'wandering hand' has never been more relevant)
Then it was back to the hotel where some more shit went down. And, if anyone wasn't aware (Yvonne?). Myself, Alex, Jack and Patrick spent the night at Birmingham Hospital due to the fact that Mike was violently bottled on his way out of the club. No ones sure who did it yet, but the police did produce this photo of a possible suspect (who was said to have numerous motives.)
On a serious note though, it was an awesome weekend. There were some great performances accross the board and Saturday night was also great fun. Thanks again to Jack for organising everything, and keep training hard so we can smash these results next year!