Credit: Clare Stewart

The Hares and Hounds take on BUCS Cross Country

By Thomas Harris

February 3 saw the Glasgow University Hares and Hounds compete in the annual Cross-country Championships.

Ask any cross-country runner what their favourite race of the year is and there’s a strong chance they will say BUCS. It’s a brilliant weekend away with a renowned race and an iconic afterparty. This year it was Leeds’ turn to host the competition, which saw 70 Glasgow University Hares and Hounds make the trip down south to put their training to the test. The races were all tightly contested affairs filled with top performances, and an atmosphere electric throughout.

The day consisted of a record 2,000 competitors across four separate men’s and women’s races, with each contest having individual and team medals at stake.

It was a mixture of nerves and excitement as we prepared for the main event, coming off the back of a long bus ride down, and one or two pints (or carb loadings as we runners call it) the previous day. With BUCS being such a highly anticipated standout in the running calendar, it was inevitable that the atmosphere would be bouncing. While many runners were veterans of BUCS, having competed in the past, for others this was a first taste of cross-country racing. Everyone came together, getting stuck in with the racing spirit, and before long we were all sporting the classic black and gold facepaint, ready to either take on the course or cheer on fellow Glasgow runners.

Women’s A team runner and former captain, Clare Stewart, spoke about what made BUCS special to her. “Team spirit. I feel like it gets everyone out compared to all the other races. We get good turnouts at other races, but BUCS is a big team trip,” she said. “If you’re going to do one cross-country race, you should probably do BUCS”.

Fellow A team runner Naomi Lang added: “I think it’s the sheer volume of people at it. It must be one of the biggest cross-country races in terms of the number of people, not just from Glasgow, but all the unis just have heaps of people. I feel like because it’s a uni competition, the atmosphere is just really good because everyone gets psyched and loud.”

Before the race, much of the talk was on the conditions of the course. Last year we’d been treated to some fairly flat terrain which had stayed dry throughout, down in Swansea. The Leeds course at Temple Newsam Park was a total contrast though, with some huge hills to conquer, hay bales to hurdle, and no shortage of deep mud that was just primed for a shoe or two to get stuck in.

That didn’t stop our runners from getting into the zone though. Men’s A team runner, Henry Sutton, was confident going into the race and spoke on how he was planning on tackling the occasion.

He said: “My plan will be the same, more or less. The same as all my other races. I like to hold back at the start and work through the field. But because it’s such a big race, I’ll go out slightly harder than usual, get in a good position and then see where I’m at and how I feel and try and work through from there”.

Despite the energy in the air, you can’t help but let a few nerves creep in as you’re standing on the start line, ready to run. It’s one of the biggest cross-country runs of the year and you want to make sure you give your best. While you’re waiting for the signal to get moving, each passing second feels like an age, you start to wonder if your shoes are on tight enough, and you notice your feet already damp from the mud underfoot, everyone adjusting their starting position. The second that gun goes, all those thoughts vanish, and you just become focused on powering through.

In the end, it was Birmingham University that came out on top with gold medals in both the men’s and women’s A races, as well as the women’s B race, and their team winning the men’s A race overall.  Loughborough University took gold in the Men’s B race and came first overall in the women’s A race.  The Glasgow University runners, donning the black and gold, put in respectable performances coming 16th in the men’s A race, and a very strong 5th in the women’s A race, with all four of the women’s A team finishing in the top 30. 

Following the races, men’s captain Stephen Addison spoke about the challenges of the course that all the runners contended with. He described the course as “two massive hills, think about University Avenue but times that by 10” and “mud that goes up to your knees”. “I’ve been running for 13 years now and that’s the toughest cross-country race I’ve ever done without a shadow of a doubt.”

The captain was also quick to highlight the impact of the support the runners received throughout the day, stating: “It’s really good because this is our biggest-ever turnout at BUCS. We had 70 people come down and the support was crazy. It was like a football match – just lines of people, and the atmosphere was bonkers”.

Former men’s captain Andrew Carey mentioned the importance of the supporters in getting racers over the line, saying: “Even when you reached quieter sections of the course, you were still getting shouts and it was a great wee boost.”

Looking forward to the well-deserved after-party, Andrew echoed the feelings of the rest of the club. “I think after you run 10k you’re entitled to 20 pints of Guinness!”, he said.

It might not have been gold for Glasgow at the BUCS Cross-country Championships, but it was a win all round for the smiling faces crossing the line, the roaring crowds cheering along the track and the students who gave their all in this iconic contest.


Share this story

Follow us online

Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments