Imperial College BUCS Cross Country 2016 Team
The Imperial College BUCS Cross Country 2016 Team. #mudisgood

On the 6th of this month, a Saturday, 48 Cross Country runners represented Imperial College in Gloucester at the BUCS Cross Country race of 2016.

If you didn’t know, BUCS stands for ‘British Universities & Colleges Sport’.

The whole trip was organized and hyped up by our wonderful ICXC&A committee, who had put lots of work in to get us there, have a good time (especially for BUCS freshers – like me) and be safe.

And I did have a good time. The whole BUCS 2016 experience began with a text from a mysterious ‘GH’. The one and only Gary Hoare.

As how I think the myth goes, he was once a member of this club… If you want to know the rest, why not join the ICXC&A club and find out for yourself?

Anyway, the message contained my first challenge: #BakeOrBooze

I was to bring baked goods along with me for post-race consumption, and if not, I would have been “fined accordingly.” Not sure what it meant, but it probably involved paying for booze.

I called mine “orange chocolate chip cookies”.

It was truly the first time I baked anything, EVER. If you read my previous XC blog, then you’ll know bringing baked goods to races is a tradition of this club, and I got to bake something this time. Though I didn’t get an image of my pride, I got this:

I stayed up ’till 2 AM to finish baking, and I paid back my sleep-debt in the coach as we were on our way to Gloucester. We had left on Saturday morning, and the trip had taken about 2 – 3 hours.

Upon arrival in Gloucester, the colder weather and the sound of heavier rain woke me up. Passing by the course, we saw the big, green park in which we would be running laps, but also a large puddle probably was due to the rain. Probably.

I initially thought we had to stay outside, in the rain and cold, as we wait for the races to start, but all runners got a space in a sports complex – with a roof – nearby. As time passed by, I was shocked to see how many university students were in such a small space.

This was just one side of the area. #thatbellythough

We were all brought together in one area for one purpose – to compete and represent our unis/colleges in this race. But also to get muddy. After all, #mudisgood.

Everyone was putting on face paint, chatting, getting to know others in their respective teams better, smiling, making memories.

As I had brought a DSLR camera, I tried to capture some of these memories digitally to look back at a year from then or even in later years.

Then the Men’s A race began. It was 10.2 km long, and it was completed insanely fast by Chris Olley – our fastest runner- in 32m:54s. The Women’s race followed, and our speediest girl, Sarah Johnson, finished her 6.1 km race in 24m:22s.

The A Team.

The Men’s B race was last, and at this point, the track was SUPER muddy. As over 1000 people ran several laps in the race course, all the grass was pushed under the rain water and mud in some areas.

Imperial > All other unis & colleges

I knew it would be having a hard time washing my clothes when I got home. Nonetheless, I ran and completed my 7.3 km race in 35m:41s.


After finishing the race, besides thinking that I should train more, I headed directly to my things to drink some water. However, I had forgotten about our second challenge: #memento.

The BUCS freshers were to “take a part of the course” with us to “curry and beyond”. We had curry for dinner, you see.

I only remembered when I noticed other Imperial runners with barricade tape from the course used to border it.

As I removed my muddy shoes, I realized I had a small plant – with leaves and root – stuck inside. I decided to keep it as my #memento. And I still have it to this day!

Back at the travelodge we were staying at, we got cleaned up and got ready to party the night out in tie dye!

While we got ready, GH sent our third challenge: #BUCSSELFIE

This one required to take a selfie of “minimal dignity, and maximal hilarity”. I think I nailed it:

My mom would be angry if she saw this picture.

Then we headed for dinner!

We had curry at a BYOB curry house. It had low tripadvisor ratings and the wait for curry was too long. But I didn’t care about that really. During the long wait, I got to know some of the others XC runners from Imperial much better through conversation and never-have-I-ever.

Tie dye is our uniform.

Our next stop was the BUCS afterparty where we would meet the students from other unis/colleges that we competed against in the morning, but the cue was … you guessed it… too long.

We settled for a Spoons, which was literally next door to the club. It had all we needed – a dancefloor. The fun came with us 🙂

The rest of the night involved dancing, chanting, trying to dance with girls from other unis, but mainly enjoying the night with people I can now call friends.

You can see I was having a good time.

I realized I forgot to mention the final challenges. These were actually announced after GH’s identity was revealed as… the club captain.

For the fourth challenge, we were to get a bit loose by drinking a can of Strongbow. Though I don’t drink much, I admit: alcohol does help to let go and loosen up a bit.

For the fifth and final challenge, all BUCS freshers were to run a longer distance on Sunday than in the BUCS race. Some people actually woke up at 8 AM the next morning to complete this challenge, but I was too tired that I slept through the morning run. However, I later completed my final challenge on the treadmill at my local gym, finishing the run just minutes before the gym closed.

And that was my BUCS 2016 experience. I greatly look forward to next year. But for now, I gotta stop eating chocolates and train, train, train!

Franz T. C

6 comments for “THE BIG BUCS BLOG

  1. Hi Franz!
    I’m from Spain and I’ve been offered a place at Imperial to study MEng Biomedical Engineering, just like you. At the moment, Imperial is the university I feel most attracted to, but I must admit that I’ve read a lot about how much workload you have and how difficult it is to have an actual life besides studying. I mean, I’m not afraid of working hard, but I do fear that I might not be able to keep up or to be good enough for this university.
    Could you tell me more about your experience so far at Imperial with Bioengineering? Thank you so much!!

    1. Hi Marietta. Thank you for your comment.

      Firstly, let me assure you that if you have received an offer to study this course at Imperial, you are more than good enough. Honestly, I felt the same way when I arrived here – that I wasn’t good enough, because after meeting my classmates who were much smarter in some areas, I became scared. I had chosen not to write about this in this blog, but I have accepted it and I am astounded someone else feels the same way.

      Anyway, it is not difficult to ‘have a life’ besides studying such a challenging course at a prestigious institution – at least not with such mindset. I believe I have performed good overall with the course so far. However, I genuinely know I could have performed better, while being even more active with the extracurricular activities that I enjoy, if I didn’t think that way. Feeling that I wasn’t good enough ate at my confidence and time, to the point that I needed to see a counselor once a week (Imperial has free student-counselling, and it helped me out greatly!).

      I realize that so far it doesn’t sound like a great or flattering experience, but I just want to express that having a positive mindset will allow you to enjoy and perform better in the course, while still having time to do anything else you enjoy.

      Now for the flattering (but honest) response:

      If you enjoy learning about the human body, while enjoying physics and mathematics, and would like to apply greater knowledge to improve human health, then you’ll enjoy the course. After having received an offer, I assume you have skill or are interested in these areas. There are so many branches of Bioengineering that there will definitely be something that strikes your interest, and the academic staff here are already exploring many areas.

      Honestly, there is quite some workload in 1st year. This ranges from having weekly problem sheets for most modules (you take like 6 each term), to submitting several coursework (reports, graded problem sheets) throughout the term. You really can’t expect the course to be easy, at least not at Imperial. However, the courses are delivered by the lecturers in simple way so that it’s easy to grasp, and they are very open to questions and requests for help in understanding the material. And if you’re having problems with the work, do not worry too much, as you can stop by their offices during specified times with questions you’ve got and they will gladly spend an hour discussing the topic until you grasp it. You can also approach the great new friends you’ll make for help!

      I’m currently on Easter break, and I realized that it’s been 6 months since I started the course. And I learned A LOT during those 6 months, and I’m greatly thankful for this awesome opportunity to be studying this course at Imperial. Here at the college, there are also so many clubs and societies to take part of to continue pursuing your interests or try something new. And I highly suggest to participate in something and to be constant with it, even if you have to do a problem sheet to do for the next morning.

      But do remember that proper time management and a positive mindset will allow you to enjoy your time here as a student 🙂

      I hope that helps!

      P.S. As a 1st year, I can only talk about my workload. However, I have heard a lot about the 2nd year workload, which is much greater, but more interesting. But that’s how it’s supposed to be. Our degree would not mean much if we did not faced great challenged during our course. So in 1st year, try to have as much fun as you can while still performing well in the course.

  2. Franz,
    Thank you so so much for this information. It’s been so kind of you to reply that fast and thoughtfully. I really appreciate it.

    I had been told several times that Imperial could be a bit “cold” sometimes, and that people there were not the friendliest, so that is why I was also considering UCL, although I like Imperial better. Of course, people say a lot of things, and that is why I wanted to have a first-hand opinion of what it’s like there.

    I hope that, if I finally attend Imperial -which I hope I will- we will meet in person to thank you for being so helpful!! 🙂

    1. I’m glad to have helped, Marietta!
      Though I never really met a student in my Department, or even in the College, who’s ‘cold’. Sure some may not speak much, but not unfriendly. I was surprised myself how friendly the students (at least the ones I met) here were.
      Imperial is a great place; I’m sure you’ll enjoy it. But for now, good luck with your exams! 🙂

  3. Hi there again Franz!
    I wrote to you previously asking about your Imperial experience, and now I’m glad to tell you I’ll be starting as a fresher this fall!! 🙂
    Now, I’m thinking about several clubs I’d like to join when I get there, but could you tell me how many do people usually join? The thing is, I would really like to take two sports, probably tennis and cross country and athletics, but I don’t know if that will be too much and I won’t have time for it? Is it just a matter of time management?
    Hope to hear from you soon!
    Thanks a lot,

    1. Dear Marietta,

      Congratulations on your acceptance! I’m glad to hear you’ve chosen Imperial. Im sure you will have to an amazing and memorable time here 🙂

      So to answer your question:
      During the Fresher’s fair (Tuesday, first week), you will have the chance to go around the South Kensington campus the and talk to the club and society committees. Then, you can put your contact information down as requested and they’ll simply add you to their mailing lists. My advice is to sign up with as many as possible, try lots of new activities and others you already do, and see what you really like and stick with that. Older students have told me to do the same, and I strongly believe lots of freshers do that.
      Also, note that in the freshers fair, you don’t sign up to become an official member of clubs, but rather you’re simply added to the mailing list. You become a member through the union website, and some may require payment.

      As for time, you will truly have time in first year to be a regular member of any club and still be on top on your coursework if you do manage your time properly. But that’s with pretty much anything, requiring proper time management. A word from a 4th year bioengineer last year: over the years, you will have less and less time to take part in clubs and societies, so do look around the many things available during your 1st and 2nd years, especially 1st.

      As for the two sports you’re planning to join, I’m not too sure if their training times clash (verify that), but I cannot tell you if you will have enough time for both and your course. Reason is because besides clubs and societies and your course, there are many more opportunities out there available to you, including parties and volunteering. So it will be up to you and your interests how often you will get to take part in one extracurricular activity.

      Apologies for the delay, but I hope that helps! 🙂

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