On Saturday, 15th October, Lancaster University Running & Athletics Club (LURAC), began the 2018/19 Cross Country season, hoping to improve on their impressive results from last year, with the Junior Men taking gold; the Senior Men’s A pipping Southport to Bronze in division 1, whilst the Men’s B remained in division 3 after finishing 5th, and the Senior Women’s A and B teams placing 7th and 18th respectively in division 3. The 20 runners that managed to make the trip to Ulverston were greeted by the new cross country season in stereotypical cross country weather, where it was raining more like lions and wolves rather than just cats and dogs, with relentless torrential downpour not making it a race for the feint-hearted.

The women were first to brave the conditions, embarking on the 6.4km course. The best of the performances came from debutant, Amber Reed, as Lancaster became her third university after previously representing Nottingham and Keele. The post-graduate’s experience was clear to see, as she finished in a very respectable 12th place in 28:42, only 13 seconds shy of a top 10 placing. Whilst not letting their European adventures over the vacation thwart any fitness, Jemma Cliff and Imogen Fawcett completed the A team with two more brilliant performances, placing 30th (31:41) and 47th (33:56) to both finish in the top 50. This ensured a top 10 finish for the Women’s team as they finished 9th and set a great marker to build on for the forthcoming fixtures.

Another debutant for the club was fresher, Jenny Cooper, who finished a very respectable 82nd in a time of 36:14 leading the B team home, as Alice Lake (123rd) and Pascale Desmet (155th) completed the B team, which finished 32nd in the team results. As the first race always falls very early in the academic year, both teams can be proud of their finishing position and will certainly look forward to reinforcement for future races and build on their strong start of the season through the year.

As the rain kept battering down on the ground, it was the turn of the Men’s race, and due to the extra testosterone, had to negotiate an extra 2.7km of mud, swamps and hills for their troubles. Despite being unsure for much of the day whether to race at all as he battled the infamous Fresher’s Flu (even in his 3rd year), Jack Turner produced his best performance ever at a Mid Lancs race, working his way to 5th in a time of 35:28. There was also a great club-battle between Harry Lancaster (18th, 36:49) and Paul Peters (19th, 36:53). For the duration of the race, Harry was constantly in Paul’s sights, and a late surge from the latter looked like he may be able to capture his long-hunted pray. However, the finish line came too soon as the appropriately named Lancaster managed to hold off Peters by four seconds.

Alex Simpson (41st, 39:10) and Chris Olive (49th, 39:30) also made great starts to the winter season, while Jak Newby (112th, 43:10) managed to win the battle for the final spot in the Men’s A team, starting conservatively before managing to pass his fellow teammates as the race unfolded. The Men’s A finished a strong fourth in the team rankings, and like the Women’s, will welcome more returning athletes to help challenge again for a team medal.

The Men’s B team consisted of a closely packed Matt Green (115th), Alistair Diplock (118th), and Ben Peace (119th) with only 17 seconds between the three, setting up an intriguing rivalry for the season, with Hamish Child (133rd), Long Ip (157th) and David Thomas (163rd) helping secure 16th place in the team rankings. Other performances came from Alec Fowler (177th) and Peter Viney (186th).

Also worthy of a mention for their weekend performances are Joe Monk and Luc Burnip, as the pair completed the Manchester Half Marathon with two incredible personal bests: with Joe finishing 15th (1:10:18) and Luc soon to follow, finishing 23rd (1:11:42).