On July 14th, several OUOC (or is it JOK now?) members made their way up north for a hotly anticipated urban weekend of the Euro City Races in Knaresborough and Harrogate. For several, this was the first time they had raced since the JK dues to exams and/or injuries, so hilarity was always bound to ensue in the very technical towns.
First, on the Saturday, came a sprint round the castle town of Knaresborough. Despite a full session of map geeking the day before, it turned out the only major discovery was marked out of bounds in this race, so most of us headed in fairly blind to the hills that lay ahead. Many members put out good performances, a good sign ahead of Scottish 6 Days coming up. We shall, of course, ignore the slight hiccup from our president, whose mispunch near the end of the course obscures the 4 minute mistake he made earlier on, when the call of God appeared to overwhelm his usual navigational “skill”. Afterwards, a discussion of the race was interrupted by a quick detour to see some rocks, which gave many of the contingent flashbacks to the Czech sandstone we had only just escaped a few months prior.
The next day was a classic length urban race around Harrogate itself. The longer course was more forgiving of smaller mistakes; fortunate as it was one of the trickiest areas we’ve ever visited! With every control requiring a position description for a fence or hedge, extreme concentration was required for the full duration, and was achieved by very few. This made comparing runs very interesting, but despite all this our current and former presidents were separated by only 5 seconds after a full hour! Elsewhere, Alex and Ben managed to achieve podiums with 2nd and 3rd places respectively, excellent results in the lead up to our next major competitions.
The weekend finished, as many do, with canceled trains messing up almost everyone’s journey home. Northern Rail’s attempts to keep us in harrogate permanently were fortunately defeated by a tenacious train conductor and many jam donuts!
Ryan Elliot MO - 5th
Sam Leadley MO - DSQ
Ben Kyd M20 - 2nd
Anna Beever WO - 8th
Alex Elliot W20 - 5th
Ryan Elliot MO - 4th
Sam Leadley MO - 6th
Ben Kyd M20 - 3rd
Anna Beever WO - 7th
Alex Elliot W20 - 2nd
Before Varsity, a small number of OUOC members managed to (just about) make it to the British Long Distance Championships. The main goal here was to survive the courses, as for many it would easily the longest course they had ever taken on (with M21E going up to 17.8km!). This was fortunately achieved by all, although may have stressed certain bodies a little too heavily the week before varsity (that’s called foreshadowing!).
As if we hadn’t had enough this Easter, OUOC finished off with a trip to the lakes for the JK – 4 races over 4 days including a sprint, middle, long and relay. Somehow everyone made it to the start line of the sprint (despite a few late), an especially amazing (or possible stupid) feat given several where competing in a fashion that can only be described as “against medical advice” – knee reconstruction waits for no man! The highlight of the weekend was Lois Parker’s amazing 2nd place in the W20E sprint.
Sam Leadley M21E - 23rd
Lois Parker W20E - 5th
Oliver Paulin M21L - 5th
Ben Kyd M20S - 1st
Tilly Woods - W21L - 5th
Sam Leadley – Sprint 72nd M21E, Middle 96th M21E, Long DNS, Relay 12th JK Trophy (OD 2)
Dylan Sherman – Sprint 143rd M21E, Middle 134th M21E, Long RTD, Relay 44th JK Trophy (OUOC)
Ben Kyd – Sprint 20th M20E, Middle 1st M20S, Long 1st M20S, Relay 44th JK Trophy (OUOC)
Luke Parker – Sprint 54th M21E, Middle 100th M21E, Long 2nd M21E2, Relay 12th Men’s Short (CLARO)
Nick Li – Sprint 145th M21E, Middle DSQ, Long 35th M21E2, Relay 44th JK Trophy (OUOC)
Ryan Elliot – Sprint 103rd M21E, Middle 106th M21E, Long RTD, Relay 20th JK Trophy (SYO 2)
Alex Elliot – Sprint 5th W20E, Middle 7th W20E, Long DNS, Relay 27th Women’s Short (SYO)
Lois Parker – Sprint 2nd W20E, Middle 6th W20E, Long 5th W20E, Relay 3rd Women’s Short (CLARO)
This year the Varsity match was held in Drabovna, Czechia, and so it was at the bright and early time of 5:00 on a Monday morning that a depleted OUOC team dredged ourselves out of bed and onto a bus for an epic journey across the continent. Unfortunately due to prior commitments and illness (and later injury) this year’s OUOC team was rather thin on numbers, but nevertheless those of us who were able found our way to the airport and touched down in Czechia. What followed was an unanticipated chase back and forth across Prague trying to find our cars and lifts to the hotel, which somewhat set the mood for the rest of the week (running around like headless chickens trying to find things), but eventually we reached our destination and were able to begin training.
Lack of tram seating
The next few days involved frantically trying to get used to the Czech terrain with as much training as we could get our hands on, as none of us had ever experienced anything like the incredible sandstone pillars the varsity match was set to be held on. This was compounded by a thick coating of snow in the higher mountains, obscuring many features and making any navigation incredibly tricky. All too soon it was time for the Varsity match itself – OUOC had talked the talk beforehand, but could we walk the walk? Alas, just like the men’s captain after encountering some tussocky grass, walking was simply not possible for OUOC that day, as our injury plagued troop was put to the sword by a vastly more numerous and experienced Cambridge side. Ironically, it wasn’t the aforementioned committee member who crunched their ankle this time (the divine powers decided a knee injury was enough for now…), but the result was the same, with CUOC taking a tragic double victory for the first time in well over a decade. Credit must go to Stephen Hughes and Lois Parker, who’s valiant efforts to pull the team up were easily deserving of a victory. At least we managed to get everyone back safely…
Fight for the finish control
A chance at redemption came in the “beer” race, where OUOC gained back some pride by thoroughly annihilating the CUOC boat with stellar performances (aided by a certain CUOCer’s seeming inability to drink anything at all). And, in the later captain vs captain arm wrestles, which both of our captains emerged victorious from. After an amazing banquet, the next day saw us fight it out over a 9 leg relay, including two micro-O and a long leg each in teams of three. Many OUOC members had solid legs here, however chances were again thwarted by CUOC, some of whom happened to “mispunch”…
Finally, we said goodbye to the Potkavarna hotel, and made the trip to Prague, with an adopted CUOCer in tow, for a day of tourism to all the iconic sites and museums (or sat in a library working – theses don’t write themselves!). All seemed well until we got onto the plane, at which point the aforementioned divine powers decided a small knee injury wasn’t enough for one individual, and used powers such as “altitude” and “pressure” to thoroughly explode said knee. We arrived back at the airport with very little time to catch a bus so, after managing to beg a wheelchair off an annoyed worker, what followed was a wheeled race across Heathrow that can only be likened to the 3rd lap of a Mario Kart game, complete with obstacles and spins.
Dill at Charles Bridge
Fortunately everyone made it back home safely, if not totally uninjured. A disappointing result for sure, but with definite takeaways to work on for next year, and it was a great opportunity to develop inter-club relations! Have no doubts that we will be back stronger next year, where we plan to retake our crowns and show CUOC the true meaning of “no Pete, no heat”.
Stephen Hughes - 4th
Sam Leadley - 7th
Ben Kyd - 9th
Dylan Sherman - 13th
Nick Li - 14th
Harry Stuart - 15th
Lois Parker - 2nd
Alex Elliot - 3rd
Holly Curtis - DNF
OUOC in front of one of many sandstone cliff-faces
Now that term is over, and Easter is all but forgotten, it’s the perfect time for a mega OUOC Easter vac recap! (This is definitely because all of our committee has had finals and not at all due to the men’s captain procrastinating writing anything for 3 months….)
First up was BUCS, where a 13 12 11 person contingent bravely squished into a minibus for 10 hours all the way to Edinburgh, only to find out when we got there that we still had half an hour of walking to go. Despite the unexpected extra travel, we arrived safely at our overnight accommodation, and the next day headed for the individual race at Beecraigs country park. Here, our developing squad faced stiff competition from all sides but managed to pull out some excellent results, including a 10th place finish from president Lois Parker and a highly respectable 28th for Anna Beever, netting her the exclusive 1st place prize for best newcomer (and importantly beating out CUOC to second)!
Returning to the hostel (with yet more walking for some unlucky souls), we all had a scrum for the (rather limited) showers, then headed out into Edinburgh for the evening social themed around farmers and animals. OUOC had been given a sheep theme, and pulled it off magnificently despite ridiculous protests (apparently carrying a knitted sheep doesn’t count as a costume? – We disagree). We then proceeded to gorge on copious amounts of Edinburgh’s finest(?) curry, enjoying it enough that we decided to take half the dinner home with us to eat the next day too. In classic OUOC style we then got “lost” on the way to the club after, ending up in bed back at the hostel to enjoy a full night’s sleep (we needed all the marginal gains we could get at this point…).
On Sunday we headed to the Pentland hills for the relay competition, and definitely did not go the wrong way through the army base past all the men with big guns on the way there. The relays started to the sound of gunfire from a neighbouring field, giving everyone an extra incentive to get out onto the hills quickly! Once again we had some excellent runs from the whole squad, with special mentions to Luke Parker and (once again) Anna Beever, achieving 7th and 3rd on their legs respectively to put our men’s 1st team in 11th and women’s team in 4th!
Overall, this meant we ended up in 4th place overall – good enough to qualify for European championships this summer! This is a great result for a relatively small and growing club, and a testament to the work that everyone has put in over the last year. Special thanks to our captains for organising, and to Oliver Paulin for driving us all the way there and back over one weekend!
Luke Parker - 25th
Sam Leadley - 30th
Ryan Elliot - 41st
Oliver Paulin - 44th
Dylan Sherman - 55th
Nick Li - 72nd
Ben Kyd - 78th
Lois Parker - 10th
Alex Elliot - 20th
Anna Beever - 28th
Tilly Woods - 32nd
OUOC Men 1 (Sam Leadley, Luke Parker, Ryan Elliot) - 11th
OUOC Men 2 (Oliver Paulin, Dylan Sherman, Nick Li) - 27th
OUOC Women (Lois Parker, Anna Beever, Alex Elliot) - 4th
After an early start, we arrived in plenty time for the prologue, with varying hopes of making it into the chasing final by being within four minutes of the course leader. Most of us had early starts, except those who for some reason decided they wanted later starts when entering, so there were plenty of OUOC trains going on. Of special note were the 4 men starting within 6 minutes, although runs of varying success meant only one made the full catch. Runs were generally either clean or with sizable mistakes here in the surprisingly technical science park, with OUOC's president quoted as saying there "was basically nothing notable". After we had all finished came the tense wait to see who would make the chasing finals, as more fast people came in leaving many perilously close to the danger zone. However, slower runs than expected from top elites and a few no-shows meant that most of those who expected to go through qualified comfortably.
In a major plot twist, organiser Dom Dakin decided to extend the length of the chasing final qualifying times merely minutes before the starts, resulting in many more of us making the final than expected. As a result many small rivalries were born, notable examples being Lois vs. Alex, Stephen vs. Ben vs. Jean-Luc and Sam vs. CUOC, BUMC, DRONGO and LUOC, due to very small gaps in qualifying times. Results were varied in the fast and detailed area, with Luke losing places to strong runners but still maintaining second overall in the English Unis championship while Sam overtook 5 to finish only one place behind. On the women's side, a vengeful Lois viciously hunted down Alex to take a surprise win in the women's competition, while Alex herself took second merely moments behind. Further back, Stephen and Jean-Luc were inseparable on the course, and could only be split in a nail-biting sprint finish to give the Austrian bragging rights. Overall in the English Unis competition, the 1-2 and 2-3 on women's and men's courses respectively were sufficient to give us a commanding victory, asserting dominance over the tabs in their home terrain.
After a fairly Spartan shower, we reconvened at our overnight accommodation, a scout hut floor, and, those who were able to, set up their sleeping arrangements. Most people then walked over to dinner, while our captains awaited a delivery of essential goods. All was well though, as they managed to beg a lift to dinner from the d(y)livery driver. Dinner started with a mini orienteering course around Emmanuel college, as we had all arrived much too efficiently and the cooks weren't ready for us. We then proceeded to demolish the dinner itself just as efficiently, like a wake of vultures leaving nothing left. Even Anna's brownies and Matt's loaf of bread were not spared from the massacre. After dinner, we went back to the scout hut and attempted to sleep. Some of us were more successful than others. The author will not comment on whether this was related or not.
OUOC with the pinata that survived weeks before being torn to shreds at a social
Our Winter training camp report is here! We spent a wonderful week in the Gower training with CUOC.
Anna and Stephen made a carbonara, Ryan was surprised that it didn’t look like loft insulation. Ryan took out his frustrations on a bar of chocolate.
It snowed for 5 seconds: everyone got very excited. After multiple failed attempts at a name circle we set off. Anna’s car made it 10 minutes down the road before realising she couldn’t see out of the windscreen, with the hire car’s bonnet helpfully stuck shut.
We picked up Adam on a double yellow in the centre of Swansea with a very helpful car selfie. Eventually we made it to the YHA and realised Lois’ phone had no signal, thankfully Mr Tesco found us and unloaded a few tonnes of food.
Waking up, the kitchen was fridge temperature and the fridge was freezer temperature. One car set off to hang controls in the freezing dunes of Broughton. Everyone else followed later before realising that maps might be helpful. After a brief diversion we all arrived and wallowed around in the sand for a few hours. Our toes dropped off, we did a clock relay and went home again, to a hostel that was only slightly warmer than outside. Dom made a cake with mincemeat and no eggs. Ryan won werewolf by pretending to be even dumber than he actually is, then hung upside down like a bat to celebrate.
Some of the better terrain
The control team forgot the kites, headed back to collect them, and then hid them in the unmapped gorse bushes. Everyone else ran laps of the hills and got their legs lashed by gorse. Some people went orienteering, 5 of whom just followed Dom in the only moving train in the UK that day. We then did a peg race because we all loved the out of date maps so much that we wanted to explore more unmapped gorse. Much pegging was enjoyed and everyone went home very satisfied with the orienteering they had done that day. Ryan finally got the night-O he wanted when he went back to collect controls with Dom. After multiple phone calls with those who had hung them, the undecipherable map was defeated.
Everything and everyone successfully made it to the training at Whiteford Burrows(!!!) and ran around in some more sand. It was a lovely grassy, runnable area, which provided a welcome respite for our gorse inflicted legs. Sam people (who will remain n(S)ameless) padded out their strava with the walk to the start. Lois walked around in circles to keep warm at lunch. Everyone unsuccessfully hunted Adam down in the afternoon on a middle distance course with a chasing start. Anna learnt to be careful who you choose to follow. Back at the hostel we found more heaters and tried to set the place on fire while enjoying a few more rounds of werewolf.
The icy log with a big stick cameo
Some people woke up before midday and went for a walk along the very frozen beach. After examining the dead fish, trying to dam a stream, watching sand get washed around, sticking their fingers in some spring holes, daring Adam to stand on a rock and get washed off, and lining up in height order on an icy log, they then planted a big stick in the beach. We then attempted to drive to Swansea: Ana dented a car but we all arrived at the same car park eventually. We made the most of Tesco’s parking and then subjected the charity shops to an invasion of people hunting for the most ridiculous outfits possible. Back at the hostel we tried cooking pizzas, with varying levels of success.
Training at Merthyr Mawr was excellent, for those who made it… The journey there was calamitous: on the way to hang controls Dom’s car was struck to a standstill by a salty windscreen. Later Stephen had the choice of car or road side, choosing road side gave him a flat tire; fortunately Anna, Ana and Dylan managed to get an extra car and ferry everyone, bar Ryan and Stephen, to Merthyr Mawr. Ryan and Stephen enjoyed a fun day with the AA, a Swansea garage, jelly babies and a visit to the big stick. Meanwhile, everyone else enjoyed the luscious dunes and indulged in some drone footage and a photoshoot. All made it back to the hostel safely and we spent the evening presenting each other with some stunning outfits.
CUOC attempting to spell "CUOC" with their arms
OUOC spelling "OUOC" with their arms
The last day of training, and the worst area of the week. The map and undergrowth at Nicholaston were both grim. Two controls couldn’t be hung because their control sites couldn’t be found. Whilst the strong winds didn’t boost anyone’s mood, the fancy dress did. Seeing Stephen and Dom bounding over the moor was worth the terrible area. One car was sent home to get warm, everyone else headed to Pennard castle. All still very much adorned in fancy dress. To celebrate surviving the week we went to the local restaurant for dinner. The locals are probably still traumatised by our chat about mass starts and tartar sauce. Later the hit game charades made its maiden appearance of the week, followed by an evening of games.
We all got soaked chasing an inflatable santa around Oxwich Burrows at SBOC's fun Christmas score event; then stood freezing in a car park waiting for taxi driver Jasmine. Eventually we made it to Swansea and terrorised the shoppers of Tesco by trying to get changed in the toilets. Everyone made it back home safely despite train strikes, bad weather and cars with no headlights (not ours).
Dill visiting a ruined castle