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Hoarding the silverware at Manchester Relays 2019

“Only three things in life are certain; death, taxes, and BUAC stacking the field at Manchester relays.” – Theodore Roosevelt

To the experienced men and women of BUAC, the last weekend of October only means one thing – an early insight into intra- and inter-university rivalries that will manifest over the coming year. For the more fresh-faced among us Manchester Relays is the first of many opportunities to don the mighty red & gold and splash around in the muddiest fields Britain has to offer.

The day started off as any other normal Saturday morning; Carps awoke in full race kit, Yas listened to her transatlantic hubby’s peaceful slumber and the one they call ‘Mystic Mishra’ was summoned into being by Grand Shaman Tal Pelmont at the centre of the pentagrammic Mayank Oval. The buses departed exactly on time 45 minutes late with high spirits, great expectations and cunning plans to rig the BUAC sweepstake. Halfway up the M6, Morgan James was overheard boasting about how, after receiving his kit well in advance of race day, he had been posing in front of his mirror all week. We say overheard, after we realised he was speaking in welsh and not just losing his mind it was roughly translated to “After the kit was disseminated in such a timely and efficient manner, I concluded it would be irresponsible to not check it was an appropriate size.” The 107-strong contingent followed Coach Dean Miller, with support from questionable fresher 38-year-old Ollie Johnson, on the round trip to Wythenshawe Sports Grounds – the Olympus of Mancunian-based Autumnal cross-country running. Two hours later, we arrived. Ready to lay down the BUAC law. It’s literally all come down to this; 34 teams, 5 water-logged pitches and 3 kilometres.

In a change from recent years, the men were up first. Davis, Connors, Newman, Ward, Keen, Tuffin, Proffitt, Maud, Garrett, Laylee, O’Brien, Drabble, Shayler, Magner, Dustin and Whyte-Wilding – the mighty men of BUAC tasked with the first step eternal glory.

Off the back of his 3rd-place finish at the Cardiff Cross-Challenge, Wardy was at the top of many people’s sweepstake predictions and he delivered the goods by charging home in first place putting a gap between him (9:09) and the rest of the field. In an epic frenzy of red, gold and ginger four BUAC crossed the line within a few seconds of each other. Dustin’s patented kick gave him the edge over Joseph ‘stupid-shoes’ Tuffin and new recruits Tom Keen and Ollie Newman (9:11, 9:12, 9:13 and 9:14 respectively. Pictured below). His Royal Herni-ess Charlie Davis was next home (9:20) holding off a late surge from an inform Patrick Magner (9:26). Mike Proffitt (9:29) was next through the line, finishing literally acres ahead of his housemate and XC captain, Dan Carps (9:36) who’s fruitless final 600m brought him nowhere near his biggest rival despite it being ‘the fastest [he’s] ever run, ever’. Another carpet of red followed; super Ste Garrett (9:37), triathlete Jack Shayler (9:38) and dynamo Dan Maud (9:39) completed the first leg in similar, impressive times demonstrating our immense depth this year. Despite this being a great run, Jack was left frustrated exclaiming he had ‘no gears over 3k’. BUAC’s resident Einstein Maud was quick to point out that the gears are on his bike and not in fact an extension of his human body. Brains and brawn, BUAC does it all. The future winner of Movember 2019, Lewis Laylee put in solid performance (9:51) and finished strong. In a tale as old as time, Joe Connors (10:09) and Aeden O’Brien (10:27) did their merry dance once again. This time it appeared to be horrible-man Connors edging out his rival, but this is awaiting verification by the judges as they review CCTV footage showing a masked man clumsily stomping around the start line and tying O’Brien’s laces together. Crowd-favourite Tom Drabble unfortunately lost his spike in the first puddle after having it scraped off just moments after the gun went, he finished well and used this disappointment to fuel his later legs.

Full Credit:

Just 5-minutes after the start of the men’s race, the women’s race was also underway. First legs are notoriously tough, especially on courses such as Manchester which does nothing but deteriorate as the day goes on. Unperturbed, the fearsome women who lined up first were; Millard, Grice, Hobbs, Tait, Keene, Brint, O’Neil, Bull, Unnithan, Raine, Palmer, Whitfield, Mastrolonarolodolano, Libbs, Stevens, Thornton, Sinha and O’Kane. It seems like a podium at a national cross-country event may be a good predictor of where you’ll finish at Manchester Relays. Following in the humble footsteps of Wardy, Saskia Millard came home first (10:19) and proudly adds ‘winner of the first leg at a relatively small inter-university relay competition’ to her list of accolades. Cesca Brint (10:42) hasn’t had the smoothest of starts to university after injuries plagued her first year. On Saturday, she showed us these days are behind her as she flew in as BUAC’s second finisher ahead of Maisie Grice (10:43) who had escaped the clutches of the UoB library just in time. Hannah Hobbs (10:48) finished just behind them and proved herself to be a talent to look out for in the future. BUAC continued to dominate the front of the field with all 18 runners finishing in the within the top 36 of 81 total teams.

Credit: Vicky Merrick

Meanwhile, the men’s race raged on. The men’s A Team was in a hot competition with Durham for first place. Following on from Davis, strong legs from James Vincent, Keen and a vengeance driven Drabble had us breathing down the neck of the Durham. Tuffin had given all for an outstanding first leg which reflected in his second leg of the day. This meant that going into the last leg our very own St Wardy had a 109 second deficit to make up – it was a big ask. A few stern words from Deano gave the beast all he needed to hear and Sir Ward’s plan to tempo his last leg fell by the wayside. There was no stopping him. Just 7 minutes and 56 seconds later Michael Ward Esq. crossed the line and that was that, everlasting glory for the boys A team.

Now, anyone who knows BUAC knows how ridiculously talented our female side is and it's always a pleasure to see this exhibited. Naimh Brown (10:33) took the metaphorical baton off Saskia to push their team further into the lead. Cesca Brint came back for her second leg of the day to anchor this dream team home to victory in emphatic fashion. After immortalising their names into the history books our heroines stood upon the podium prophetically proclaiming a new era of female distance running was nigh – intriguing stuff. Sports fans aren't to worry as it doesn’t end there. Following on from studious Grice, scholarly Kate PW (11:07) put aside her rivalry over who works more on campus to chase down the leading girls. One to watch Kate O’Neil (11:18) impressed the coaches with her incredible second leg to bring the ‘late night library seshers’ home to second place. And that’s it, we all lived happ- BOOM SURPRISE FOOLS THERE’S BLINKIN’ MORE. Hannah Hobb’s incredible first leg set up the ever-patient Meg Ormond (11:39) who passed on to the comeback queen and amateur sorceress Sabrina Sinha (11:38). During the final flourishes of the third act she gave the illusion of hope to nearby teams before gloriously snapping it away and delivering the showman’s prestige a.k.a the meanest kick this side of the magic circle to bring the girls home 3rd. And thus, the BUAC trifecta was complete. We came, we saw, we conquered.

It would not be hard to write pages and pages recording all the excellent performance’s that BUAC had. Shout outs should go to top performing fresher Oliver Dustin as well as Katie Stevens (11:00) and Lucy Thornton (11:17) who all put in impressive shifts to reflect the shape they’re in. Lastly, a momentous congratulations to Brychan Price-Davies who managed to complete his legs after bawling his eyes only a few hours prior to the start due to his beloved Wales tumbling out of the World Cup earlier in the week. Hope you’re feeling better now pal, a potential 3rd place is still good!!!

A moment of seriousness now. There is an unspoken understanding that our club is on the verge of something great this year. Looking around at training we know that this is the strongest we’ve been in a long time and we know the unprecedented triple double is BUAC’s for the taking. We are the most prestigious club in the country, and it is our prerogative to stand atop that BUCS podium basking in our own grandeur. When we’re on that start line in Edinburgh, think back to this weekend, this is where it all started. Winning trophies, that’s what BUAC does.

Mike x

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