Classic season opener at Parli Hill as St Mary’s storm into early lead

The traditional curtain raiser for the LUCA cross-country season duly delivered again yesterday at a suitably autumnal Parliament Hill. All the components were there: a lovely dry course, huge turnouts and of course a poor Imperial fresher donning the ‘King of the Hill’ shirt. It was ideal conditions for racing, particularly for a first race, and there were great numbers of runners doing their first ever XC race. We’re not sure how they felt after the first climb but hopefully they ‘enjoyed’ it!

It would seem as though the antics of last season’s wins by UCL and Imperial in the men’s and women’s leagues respectively has jolted St Mary’s into action, with the Twickenham club recording wins in both leagues to kickstart their season. It is of course still early doors though, and it will be interesting to see if they can maintain their good numbers throughout the season. As with last season, UCL’s men and Imperial’s women are hot on their heels, with St Mary’s’ men leading by 40 points and their women by just 15. It’s tight at the top: SMU’s B team are just 19 points adrift in 3rd, whilst UCL’s women sit 21 points behind 2nd place.

Individually, there were wins for 2 St Mary’s athletes. Dan Jarvis won at Wimbledon last season and he repeated the feat here with an 18 second margin over Imperial’s Niki Faulkner in 2nd. It was another St Mary’s runner in 3rd in the form of Ricky Lutakome, whilst St Mary’s men also comprised 5th, 8th and 9th to head the team standings. There were also strong runs from UCL men, though, with Alex Bampton, Jeremy Hunt (hopefully not that one) and Paddy Roddy completing the top 10, alongside Henry Cochrane of King’s. 

Meanwhile, Katie Hughes took the win by a solid margin of 35 seconds over teammate Millie Solway in 2nd. 2 Imperial athletes, Georgia Curry and Katie Olding, broke up the St Mary’s trio completed by Megan Newton in 5th. A couple of UCL runners in Nicole Edmunds and Lucy Bather followed, with the leading SMU team completed by Rio Catney. Sophia Chastell of St George’s in 7thand Imperial’s Alix Vermeulen concluded the top 10.

Parli Hill tends to bring out the crowds and this was no exception. Although slightly down on last year, numbers were still solid as 140 men and 94 women toed the line. So, all to play for as we head to the depths of South London at Mitcham Common, a fast course which if it stays dry could see some rapid times. Stay tuned for next time!

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