For the first time this year and in the history of the Braids Hill Cross Country Race’s history, entrants of both sexes were allowed in both categories. Nor was the race limited to Scottish Universities; from Manchester to UCLAN, the race attracted runners from far off corners of the UK. The team from Swansea University received a prize for being the university who had travelled the furthest to participate in the event.
The alumni club, Hunters Bog Trotters, also provided many runners, with certain individuals entering both – perhaps demonstrating both sadism and eagerness in equal measure.
With over 520 combined race entrants for the 5 and 10k races, the atmosphere and participation was unprecedented.
Thankfully, Storm Abigail had abated enough to provide fair if dull conditions for the race, even if large volumes of mud were still present. Mud slips notwithstanding, both the 5 and 10k events were cracking races to participate in as well as to watch.
First home for the 5k was Scott Stirling from Edinburgh University Hare & Hounds, in an astonishing time of 15:37, ensuring a 20 second lead ahead of the rest of the field! The cheers from onlookers and general atmosphere was one of great team spirit.
Within the 10k race, the pace was incredibly fast. The first Edinburgh member home was Andrew Lawler with a time of 32:52. The first Edinburgh female runner home, in the first race where women were able to participate in the 10k, was Charlotte Watson, only five minutes behind Lawler with her time of 38:52.
Such effort and enthusiasm demonstrated how for many runners, running in a mixed event as opposed to single-sex races was greatly appreciated and enjoyable.
Although competitive, each university supported all runners, regardless of their age, sex or university, throughout the whole race. This was demonstrated to me very clearly when, whilst I was descending on the first lap of the 10k and saw the crowded path, a male member of Swansea University was adamant that competitiveness should not prevent friendly support, saying “please, after you”.
Although this may be perceived as inconsequential, it was greatly appreciated and reiterated how fully the race integrated men, women, and support.
Overall it was a very successful day for the Haries who won both male and female team categories. Yet although victorious, perhaps the real winners were not only those who ran and had a great race, but those who were kind enough to marshal, volunteer, and organise the whole event. Without them, Braids would not be the successful event that it is.
With the Haries having been subsequently crowned Scottish University Cross Country champions, it is evident that the club continues to go from strength to strength – yet they still maintain their friendly ethos, as was evident at Braids, that anyone can participate in cross-country and running whilst at Edinburgh.
Photo courtesy of EU Hare and Hounds