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Double Varsity Win 🎉

With Varsity 2023 being held abroad in Czechia and over the Easter holiday, sixteen CUOCers came from all over and via many methods to assemble in Potkavarna, where we would be staying for the next week.

After a hefty journey, CUOC were already ready for a rest day, which of course involved restful activities such as sprint training in nearby city, Liberec, a trip to the water park, and a chaotic Micro-O around Potkavarna (with a 75% mispunch rate to get it out of our systems).

Wednesday was the first day of training for most of the CUOCers and a great way to get our heads around the steep sandstone crags. A very welcome delivery of quiche made at Potkavarna greeted us in the carpark before we headed back into the forest for a fun relay in the afternoon.

Thursday training was in a flatter (and closer) area which was still covered in snow and so once an acceptable number of courses had been done, full advantage of the remaining snow on the ground was taken through the construction of a “snow-Drongo” (pictured). Afternoon activities included an indoor exercise planned by former CUOC captain, Lachlan, which turned out to be running up and down the Potkavarna stairs forty times cleverly disguised as a memory game (but was great fun, nonetheless).

Friday was the last day of training before the Varsity match and so we returned to crag-heavy territory for a last refresher followed by an afternoon peg relay and some last minute map-geeking in the evening.

All of CUOC ahead of the Banquet!

The Varsity match itself was set to be a tense one, with key members of both CUOC and OUOC absent it was all to play for. That being said, CUOC made the tricky feat of a full Varsity sweep look easy (so much for “no Pete, no heat”). James Ackland finally broke his streak of Varsity flops with the winning time of 38:10 (and no mispunching!). Dom and Matej followed into 2nd and 3rd place in the mens race and kudos must go to Olly who, despite injuring himself halfway round and walking the rest of the way, still managed a very respectable time of 62:54 which landed him 5th place. The womens match was similarly tense with Sarah coming 1st with a time of 42:58 and great performances from Hanna, Emma, Ana and Sophie leading to an overall CUOC win!

The evening of celebration started with another win against OUOC in the alcoholic boat race (by merit of actually having five team members who drink alcohol), followed by the banquet at Potkavarna. After we had eaten so much we could barely move, we had some Czech dancing lessons accompanied by the accordion, followed by singing well into the night including such classics as “Do TrailO” and other Disney songs in their original, non-orienteering-related forms.

Breakfast the next morning was probably one of the less energetic meals of the week but nevertheless, CUOC persisted, re-donning our (wet and muddy) shoes and kit for the final race of the trip: the mixed-teams relay around the Potkavarna grounds and surrounding area. The course was a nine-leg, mass start relay with three legs per person: a micro-O to start followed by a longer leg around the surrounding forest and another micro-O to finish.

Several hot chocolates and many card games later, CUOC journeyed home/onwards over the following days for a well deserved rest!

Overall, a wonderful week was had by all doing fabulous training and cultivating increasingly friendly relationships with the O*ford rivals, only to ultimately come out with big wins in the Varsity match. Well done to all of CUOC for an incredible week and Varsity performance!! A massive thank you to DrongO for all their planning efforts and for all the drivers (Ana and Dom especially) for ferrying us around all week.

CUOC have arrived in Czechia

As Varsity is finally abroad this year we've come out early for a week of training - sandstones and intricate contour features aren’t something we get much of in Cambridge. Most of the CUOC contingent arrived late on Monday afternoon, just in time for the “rest” day on Tuesday. There was a wide range of activities on offer and we discovered some important things:

  1. Orienteers are basically big kids when it comes to water parks and will happily claim that climbing the stairs to get to the slides is basically fitness training as is attempting to swim the wrong way around the lazy river.
  2. Only one member of the club fancied cross country skiing.
  3. Checking your control descriptions is essential for a Vokes micro-O, the mispunch rate was over 75%!
  4. Dom's voice is repressed in the chapel choir, he’d much rather be singing Disney, ABBA and Queen.

CUOC goes to BUCS 2023

BUCS on EUOC's home terrain - a challenging prospect - but 18 intrepid CUOCers made the journey up to compete! Well, I say that, it was also sort of home terrain for Peter and James, so no 5 hour train journey for them, but everyone else set out on Friday away from the flatlands of Cambridge and towards the hills! CUOCers arrived in Cambridge Station in various states of sogginess and exhaustion - a shout out to Ana for commitment to lab work, leaving the lab only 5 mins before the train left!

The rest of the journey passed without any other major events, except the first sighting of hills around York which produced far more excitement than was arguably reasonable...! A walk across Edinburgh from Waverly to Haymarket via the "scenic route" (with some mumbling about the quality of Dom's navigational skills) led us to the hostel where it was food, chill (including a few rounds of cards - turns out CUOC are quite good at cheat, not sure how that reflects on us, but hey!), and then bed! A few CUOCers arrived later, but I must confess, I was sound asleep at this point. But I was very happy to awake in the morning to a dorm room where all the beds were filled (no-one was stuck outside on the doorstep - phew!).

Saturday morning, then, all CUOC filled up on lots of hostel provided cereal and toast (a better provision than was anticipated, in all honesty!) and we set off to the event! Beercraigs was the destination, and whilst one coach did take a wrong turn and end up on a windy single track road, we all made it there safely in the end! Sandwiches were eaten, hire dibbers were obtained, and group photo was taken - then it was race time!

CUOC performed well, though this might have been helped by the surprising similarity of this area to East-Anglian block forest... Just with contours! Highlight results have to be from the Men's side - Peter storming to an impressive 2nd in 56 minutes, with James only 3.5 mins behind in 7th and Olly close behind in 12th. Further CUOC results were Dom in 18th, Alexander in 59th, Matej in 60th, Tom in 65th, Adam in 66th, Charlie in 73rd, and Kevin in 80th. Nam also came 14th on the B!

Onto the Women's side! No dizzy heights of podium positions here, and a chonky mistake from yours truly denied us a top 10, but the team put out a strong result nonetheless with Sarah in 14th, Sophie in 29th, Anna in 33rd and Chloe in 38th. Sophie also picked up a prize for 2nd best newcomer to orienteering - so major congratulations is due there! Newcomers Lena and Anna were on the C course and both did well too, coming 4th and 7th!

More importantly, much fun was had by ̶a̶l̶l̶ most! (a few grumbles of the utter manky-ness of Beercraigs did remain from those who have experienced more attractive Scottish forests, it must be said).

It was then back to the hostel to fight over 8 showers between 100 people...! Surprisingly, no melee occured - possibly aided by one of the coaches breaking down, meaning the 2nd bunch of people were delayed by 20 mins... Everyone got back eventually though, with those on the stranded coach walking past Murryfield as people started gathering for the 6 Nations match of Scotland v Italy, which certainly made for an interesting walk!

The social theme for the evening was Farmers and Animals, with CUOC being designated as chickens...! After an intense discussion on the evolutionary relationships between chickens and humans vs penguins and ducks was had - how this discussion started, I'm afraid I do not know, nor can I remember the conclusion, but it was good fun and very on brand for Cambridge - CUOC then graced the streets of Edinburgh with a catwalk of fabulous yellow feather bowers! Some boas were admittedly more fabulous than others and we left a trail of feathers in our wake, but no matter! Vast quantities of curry and samosas were then consumed by all - a great time! Then was Big Cheese nightclub for 7 outgoing CUOCers, where the fabulous feather boas were added to by sparkly facepaint of a chicken for a certain Vice-Captain (truly a sight to behold...!). A team for the beer race wasn't fielded, but cheesy tunes were danced to and shouted to very loudly - a fab time!

Sunday dawned - relay day. By 9:30am one captain was at the airport to fly out for a mandatory geography field trip and the other captain was incapacitated by an allergic reaction (oops), so things weren't looking good. But with Alexander's medic skills and stash of anti-histamines, alongside CUOC members eagerness to not let me carry any bags, we all made it safe and well to the event!

Destination was North Pentlands; based from Dreghorn barracks, which gave the added excitement of people on military training exercises passing by the Assembly... With massive guns... Blanks though, I was assured, and they weren't shooting them round us anyway (thankfully!). Men's relay were first up, and we cheered Olly, Matej, and Tom as they sped off up into the hills. Closely following were Sophie and Anna on 1st leg in the Women's relay, and finally Charlie on the Adhoc. Some great results again, with the dream team of Olly, James, and Peter finishing in 2nd! All the other CUOCers made it round too - successfully decending the steepest slope I have ever been down in my life! Suffice to say, the tactic of sliding on your bum was deemed the best method! Notable CUOC performances included James and Peter, who both had absolute stormers, alongside Tom who had an amazing run - making good use of his fell running credentials! Our women's 1st team also put out a solid performance, coming 9th, and everyone found all the controls and had a lot of fun - which, in my opinion, counts it as a successful event!

And, drum roll please...... We came 2nd overall!!!! Beaten by Edinburgh, but beating O*Ford (oh yeah) so a very successful weekend!!

Prizes were given and CUOCers then dispersed via train to various places around the UK, most likely with tired legs if they're anything like me. Hopefully the 2 weeks until Varsity will give plenty of time to recover and then we can beat O*ford again!

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