By Megan McBrien
On Saturday 6th February, Cardiff University Athletics Club (CUAC) took a record number of 60 athletes to Plock Fields, Gloucester, to compete in BUCS, the biggest cross-country race in our calendar. In true cross-country style, the conditions were horrific; constant rain, gale force winds, and six-inch deep mud, but this did not deter our athletes.
After war paint and temporary tattoos had been put on and our cross-country captains had given us a solid team talk, the men’s A-team got underway. They kicked us off to a flying start over the 10.3 km hard slog, battling past the rest of the field towards the finish line.
President Dan Nash was first home in eighth out of 334 runners- a fantastic run to watch and Dan’s best result in ‘BUCS XC’. Next through the line were first year athletes Andrew Wright, Thomas MacSwayne and Richard Webb in 51st, 65th and 124th respectively – excellent performances for their first BUCS event. Owen Haswell and Freek van Arkel also had good runs on this tough course, meaning the team finished 12th out of 54 teams – our best male team team finish in the history of the club.
Next it was the girls’ race: 6.2km of mud, just mud! Beth Hawling came in fifth out of 583 runners, an outstanding run and one that can leave her hugely optimistic ahead of a potential appearance at the World Cross-Country Championships. To complete the women’s team was female cross-country captain Megan McBrien, in 77th, and Abigail Howarth, in 84th. Meaning the girls finished ninth overall, which, unfortunately, meant that they narrowly missed out on collecting BUCS points, by just four. It was still the best result we have had in a while, though!
The men’s B-race brought the event to an end and was by far the most entertaining race to watch. We had impressive runs from Elliott Hardee (58th), Mike Gaunt (112th), Dan Richardson (139th) and cross-country captain Tom Chandy (150th). 477 people finished the race, highlighting Cardiff’s efforts with another 16 of our students amongst the remaining finishers.
Despite the conditions, it was a great day out with a fantastic team that had strength and depth. We had brilliant support from other members of CUAC who joined us for a day in the wet, cold and muddy conditions. We now look forward to the last few races of the cross-country season, as well as BUCS indoors up in Sheffield from the 19th-21st February, when we will hopefully be even more successful.
CUAC train on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 6.30pm, meeting at the front of the Students’ Union. All abilities are welcome so please come along and try athletics out, especially if you are training for the World Half Marathon in March.