For the first time in the events history, the BUCS Cross Country Championships took place at Hillingdon Sports Park meaning Brunel University were the home club. A group of 22 Brunel athletes made their way to their home course in an attempt to take home all the gold.
The highlight of the day came in the very first race of the day, the women's race, as team captain Philippa Bowden picked up Brunel's best result of the day; that being 3rd place, and thus a bronze medal, and her final BUCS cross country before heading out for her scholarship in San Francisco during the autumn of this year!! Philippa clocked a time of 22:43.9, and was less than a second away from silver, and only 4 seconds behind the gold!! This also that the Aldershot Farnham & District runner has gone from 80th and nearly 4 minutes behind the winner, to 3rd and only a few seconds away in the space of just 3 years!! Behind her, Emily McKane was the next Brunelian finishing 133rd in 27:01.4, with Evie Grice rounding out the women's team in 29:20.3 for 278th, just narrowly edging out Lorraine McNulty who finished 280th in 29:21.1. Other home heroes who finished the 6.5K mudfest were Rosie Upton (454th; 32:02.9), Zoe Robson (588th; 35:23.2) and Nanine Balchin (624th; 37:04.9). The team ended up finishing a very solid 22nd place out of 60 universities on 414 points.
The men's long race was next, the distance consisting of 10K, and Brunel's team made up of Gus Allison, Alex Cameron, Gabriel Kay, Sam Metcalf, Yonis Mohamed & David Weir. The first of these 6 across the line was Sam Metcalf in what proved to be a fantastic first BUCS for him, finishing 92nd in 36:41.9. David Weir was next to the line in 37:32.5, good enough for 120th, who did very well to recover from a fall fairly early on, with Gabriel Kay following close behind in 37:52.2 for 138th, and Alex Cameron rounded off Brunel's team in 152nd in a time of 38:20.9 as both Yonis Mohamed & Gus Allison unfortunately had to drop out mid-race. The 4-man squad did enough to secure 22nd out of 54 scoring universities, scoring 502 points in total.
The final race of the day was, as ever, the mens short race contested over 7.9K. The host club put out 9 starters, and Jacob McAdam was the first one home in a time of 31:08.7 for 160th. Christian O'Brien was not too far behind, coming home in 207th in an official time of 31:53.8. Next home was the ever-reliable Hasnain Iqbal, completing the course in 34:36.8 for 328th, as a new face to the team Matthew Newman came round to round out Brunel's team in 405th in 37:10.7, and able to get to the line before team captain Jono Gilworth (520th; 42:11.5), James Hudson (546th; 45:27.2) and Oliver Price (552nd, 47:12.6) with decathlete Dylan Carlsson-Smith and Joe Gleeson both unable to finish. The team finished 67th out of 116, and rallied up 1100 points.
As always, a very fun and enjoyable weekend, and a very successful home BUCS. The official announcement awaits for the host of the championships on 2nd February 2019 but for now, thanks go out to both Jono Gilworth & Philippa Bowden for their services as captains this year. It's certainly been a fun ride, and next year's captains (whomever they may be) will almost certainly have a tough time topping this year.