Sport Editor Oscar Frost reports on the BUCS cross-country championships, where BUAC were looking to compete with Loughborough for top spot
Earlier in February, the Birmingham University Athletics Club (BUAC) made the trip to Pembrey County Park in Wales to compete at the BUCS Cross Country championships. After a record-breaking year last time around, the pressure was on to produce similar excellence this time around.
The stars of the show for BUAC were the women’s A squad for the long course. They finished with 17 points, which earned them a gold medal for the day. The long course is usually considered to be the more competitive of the two, meaning that this gold medal displayed the high level of talent across multiple Birmingham athletes. The star of the show was Amelia Quirk, who took home an individual silver medal. She has previously broken the 10km record for the club this season, and was just seconds behind Alex Millard, an established international runner for Loughborough.
In the men’s long race, the Birmingham team finished in second place behind Loughborough. Despite trailing by eight points to their rivals in purple, they were 69 points ahead of Cambridge, the next highest scorers. Tomer Tarragano finished in fifth place, with the European under-20 champion Will Barnicoat also making the top 10 in the individual standings. The winner of the race was Mahamed Mahamed of Southampton Solent University, who completed the 10.5km course in 32:17.
Michael Ward and David Stone also managed to finish in the top-10, meaning that the four points scorers for Birmingham were all within this threshold. The fact that this was still not enough to pip Loughborough to the gold medal speaks volumes about the standard of racing in this event. Despite the rivalry, it is important to commend Loughborough’s strength across the board in these long course races.
BUAC were also pipped to the post by Loughborough in the men’s short race. Again, however, there was a sizeable gap separating them from the rest of the field. The quartet of Tyler Bilyard (5th), Jack Shapley (6th), Larry Ryan (8th), and Ed Blythman (9th) all made it into the top 10, showing the level of competition in this short course race.
It was a similar story for the women, who finished in second place in the short course team standings. Ellen Weir, Hannah Seager and Kate Willis both broke into the top ten, once again showing the competitive nature of BUCS Cross Country Championships.
The rivalry with Loughborough across the board was something to behold this year, and both clubs were certainly pushing the best out of each other. It is expected that both universities will consolidate over the coming year, and Birmingham will come back with a vengeance.
Overall, although the prize haul was smaller than last year, the club still managed to take home medals across the board. One gold and three silver medals in the team standings illustrates the strength in depth throughout the club. The fact that there were at least three athletes in the top ten of every race further highlights this depth. The fact that many of these athletes will return next year another year older and faster sets the club up for even more success next year.
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