Saturday evening and OUCCC Treasurer, Luuk Metselaar, is settling down with his glass of Merlot, about to put on Strictly Come Dancing. All of a sudden, his heart rate soars to 200bpm (almost unheard of for this marathon specialist) as an anonymous bet of £10k comes in for Oliver Paulin at 6/1. Oliver Paulin! He’s only come 12th and 11th in his first 2 years – absolutely no way that chopper’s gonna win Cuppers. Money in the bank. Luuk was already making plans for a romantic getaway to the Caribbean with his new wife, leaving just enough money to make a sizeable donation to his alma mater, Cambridge University.
The warning signs were there though. Paulin had already completed a course recce 126 times this term and told Luke Cotter that he NEEDED to do a live stream of the race so that his parents could watch. Suspicious… Even more suspiciously, when he arrived and the course wasn’t set out in his favourite layout, he kicked off, describing the race organisers as “incompetent” and launching into a stream of expletives whenever anyone tried to reason with him.
To the neutral spectator, the scenes which unfolded over the next ~30 minutes might have appeared genuine: a solid head-to-head battle over 6 miles, resulting in one athlete kicking for home harder than the rest, thus securing the title. However, to those in the know, this race involved one upset too many.
Former international, Miles Weatherseed, started off strongly, gliding along in an England vest before mysteriously dropping off in the middle of the race. “An obvious lack of mileage”, cited Paulin, clearly poorly educated in the benefits of cross training. An anonymous source reportedly spotted Paulin slipping Weatherseed a £50 note a mere 10 minutes after the race, although the Blue Bird cannot confirm the authenticity of this statement.
GB international, William Christofi, also appeared to have been offered some sort of incentive to hold back, starting the race way back in the field. However, it appears that this incentive could not overcome his competitive desire to win, being by far the quickest man on the course for the second half of the race. Having finally caught up with the lead pack, Christofi seemingly remembered his agreement, reducing his speed to little more than a jog and virtually handing Paulin the title.
If these two pieces of anecdotal evidence are not enough to sway the unbiased reader, hold tight because this final point is mathematically undeniable. Alex Gruen – last year’s Varsity 1,500m Champion – is almost exactly 10 seconds quicker than Oliver Paulin over 1,500m. Men’s Cuppers Cross Country is over 6 times this distance. It doesn’t take a genius to run the numbers and spot that Gruen ought to have been at least a minute clear of our dodgy man Paulin around South Parks. Case closed.
In all seriousness, Paulin is innocent until proven guilty and ought to be congratulated for a fine run. Upon accepting his winner’s medal, the third year Merton student appeared to be inundated with self-confidence, waxing lyrical about his own abilities (“I would have won by even more if it was muddy”), whilst questioning the abilities of his adversaries (“Jack Millar was no match for me in the slightest”).
Another stand out performer was Kirk Smith. The ex University of Tulsa Cross Country Captain was probably the most determined man on the field, absolutely fuming that he wasn’t even offered odds for the win. Fueled by the insult of being overlooked for the title, he executed the race perfectly, coming in an excellent 4th place and putting himself right in contention for a Blues spot. Some may say that’s excellent Captaincy from Luke Cotter, being able to motivate/wind-up your team members like that.
Club Treasurer, Luuk Metselaar, was unavailable to comment on the status of the £10k bet and was last seen in the departures lounge at London Heathrow. The Blue Bird understands that Paulin is preparing to issue OUCCC with a summons for a small claims court. We will, of course, be following the case at every stage and providing updates throughout. Watch this space.
Note: If you weren’t one of the 4 live stream viewers (i.e. Beth Murray, Jack Paget or, presumably, Paulin’s parents), you can find the videos of the Men’s and Women’s races on our Facebook page. A full report of the equally gripping and considerably less dubious women’s race will follow shortly!