"Here is a map and off you go." So started the famed training tour preceding this year’s orienteering Varsity match in Stockholm. Only, there was a small catch to it. The map was almost blank, except for a half-centimetre wide winding strip to follow. The training, planned by junior world champion Gustav Bergman, was a taste of what lay in wait for the Oxbridge orienteers: a week of orienteering, lush forests, and frequent feelings of desperation at being completely lost.
After four days of training the Cambridge team was ready to face Oxford. For the actual Varsity match, six people formed the Men’s A team with the four best times counting, and five in the Women’s, with the three best times counting. The Women have won for three years running, unlike the Men who succumbed to the Dark Blues for the last few years .
This year was going to be a close match, since Oxford lost some of their best runners at the end of last year. As expected, the Women defeated Oxford in a clean sweep by a big margin of 70 minutes. The Oxford team could not even be saved by having a Scandinavian runner. Katrin Harding stormed into the finish in first place, closely followed by Carrie Beadle and Jess Mason who made up the Women’s A scoring team. Since Cambridge took the first three spots in the individual race, there was no question about who the champions were.
The Men could not match the Women‘s efforts. However, in a stunning display of speed and skill, Matthew Vokes managed to beat Oxford‘s elite runner Aidan Smith by 37 seconds, securing first place in the individual race for Cambridge. The fourth Oxford runner however proved to be a little too fast, and in the end the Cambridge Men lost overall by 10 minutes.
The racing finished on Sunday with a relay. Cambridge put on a mighty team made up of James Hoad, Katrin Harding and Matthew Vokes which thrashed the Oxford first team by over half an hour, ensuring that Cambridge dominated the relays.