Running the olde way

Alexander Weck

Compromise is a great thing. Despite centuries-old animosity between the British and the French, it is truly wonderful that they can come together over some things – the Beloit College Old English Invitational, for example. One must wonder: could this Franco-titled school actually be hosting a race in the style of their cross-channel rival? Sadly, the answer is no. Despite its distinctly French institutional name, the college was actually founded by seven New Englanders. Alas, t’was not meant to be.
Nonetheless, the Old English is without a doubt an interesting tradition. Every year, Beloit hosts the event whose goal is to replicate a pastoral English countryside across which athletes will slog. Beloit’s methodology consists of the inclusion of three two-meter stream crossings, four dispersed straw-bale walls, and two tricky log stacks into the customary 5- or 8-kilometer race.
The event introduces challenges unseen in other races. Reactions to the conditions vary between runners. Most are slowed by the obstacles and mud that necessarily follows the stream entries. Some, however, find their place in the ruggedness of this style of race. Lawrence junior Will Daniels, who topped his previous personal best by a full 40 seconds last weekend at Beloit comments that, “in some spots the straw bales are two bales high, that’s where the real men go.”
Lawrence performed at varying levels in this year’s Old English. The women finished 3rd in the 14-squad field. The team was again led by sophomore Joy Manweiler’s 4th-place finish. Junior Colleen Detjens, senior Rachel Lucas, and sophomores Alice Shepro and Clare Shinners rounded out the top five for the Lady Vikings. The LU men were unfortunately unable to score as a team with only four runners competing in the wake of widespread injury.
This enjoyably sloppy race marks the midpoint of the cross country season with only two more invitationals before the conference, and regional meets. This weekend, both squads are as close to home as they will be this year, running at the Ripon College Invitational. Races begin at 11 a.m. as runners are brought back to the reality of competing in Wisconsin rather than Oxfordshire.