This Saturday (3rd December), Oxford University Cross-Country Club and Cambridge University Hare & Hounds will meet once again to continue a rivalry that stretches back to 1880. The races will be hosted again by Thames Hare and Hounds on Wimbledon Common. This year’s event will be extra special as it will also see the unveiling of the World Athletic Heritage Plaque awarded to Thames last December and the official opening of the new Brasher-Chataway-Bannister Bridge over Beverley Brook, which the races will cross in their closing stages.
Further details on the day can be found at www.varsityxc.run.
A preview of the 46th ladies’ and 131st gentlemen’s races can be found below.
Preview of the 2022 University Races
Twelve months ago, Cambridge took the top two places in both the gentlemen’s and the ladies’ races. With those four runners in action again today plus a number of strong additions to their sides, they should enter both contests in an optimistic mood. They will also have been buoyed by comprehensive victories in the two second team races last weekend.
In the 46th ladies’ race, the top-two from last year, Nancy Scott (Newnham) and Niamh Bridson-Hubbard (Magdalene) should again be involved at the front. However, unlike in 2021, when they did not have the support behind them to bring home the team honours, the pair are likely to be joined by Phoebe Barker (Robinson), who is back after missing last season through injury, and Louise Shanahan (Trinity), returning for a third appearance after another strong summer on the track. Although they have lost the exceptional fresher Beatrice Wood (Lucy Cavendish) to European selection, it looks very probable that Light Blues will dominate at the sharp end of the race.
Oxford do have a number of very talented runners among their ranks and it would be a surprise if both Alice Garner (St. Hugh’s) and Alexandra Brown (New College) were not also involved in the battle at the front. However. The they are up against what looks to be a very strong Light Blue side and despite the solidity of their team throughout their order, it does not look like they have sufficient fire power at the top end to take the team honours.
In the 131st gentlemen’s race, Cambridge again look to have an ominously strong top end. Last year’s one-two, James Edgerton (Jesus) and Jeremy Dempsey (Girton) are in very good form once again, although this year Dempsey looks the more likely race winner. Added to them, the Light Blues have the experienced Joe Massingham (Pembroke) and the newcomer Terry Fawden (Wolfson) who are likely to be join these two at the front to make a very powerful spearhead. For their part, the Dark Blues also have strength at the top end of their team. Joe Morrow (Queens’) – third last year – is in good form once again and he is likely to be supported by two others who finished in the top half of the race in 2021 in the shape of Tom Wood (St. Anne’s) and Captain Tom Renshaw (St. Peter’s). Added to this, there is their American fresher Naphtali Moulton (St. Cross) who, provided he adjusts smoothly to the unique challenges of the course, could well be their first man home. Behind them both teams are made up of a mixture of freshers and runners who have moved up strongly from the non-Blues teams in 2021.
Overall, both teams have a very solid look about them on paper; however, with the strength they possess at the top of their team, the Light Blues enter the contest as warm favourites.