30 March 2009
Yesterday was the 155th Oxford v. Cambridge Boat Race in London. Started as a wager between two friends (one at Oxford and one at Cambridge), it has evolved into one of the pivotal events of the Oxbridge academic year, with each university's pride at stake. This year both teams boasted several Olympic medalists, and so it promised to be a great race. I remember looking up the date back in October and being quite disappointed that I would be unable to attend (since I would be in Edinburgh and, at that point, I did not like Oxford enough to merit coming back). Little did I know that I would be spending my entire spring break here!
After a rough start, in which I forgot to set my clock forward an hour to adjust for British Summertime and therefore missed meeting everyone at CMRS at 9;30, we left for London around 10:30. We (Fiona, Veronica, and I) arrived at 12:45, navigated the Tube, took a bus (because the one Tube station that we needed to switch lines at to get to Hammersmith was closed without warning), and eventually found our way to Hammersmith Bridge. It was absolutely ridiculous how many people were there already! It was so crowded that I felt as if I were toothpaste being squeezed through a tube. The Championship Course for the race is 4 miles long, with Hammersmith Bridge being roughly halfway along. It is one of the more popular spots, but nowhere near as popular as the start or finish lines. I estimate that there must have been around 4,000 people at the Hammersmith/Furnival Gardens area, so I can't even imagine what it must have been like at those other locations.
At 3:20, we were joined by Julie (from CMRS) and we fought the crowds in an attempt to find a good place to view the race (or, rather, the two minutes of it that would pass us). Unfortunately, it was so crowded that we were only able to grab a spot behind a large barge. However, with a bit of creative positioning and camera zoom techniques, I was able to grab a shot of the boats as they passed. I can't even begin to describe the atmosphere in the gardens. Cambridge and Oxford supporters turned out boasting their best light blue (Cambridge) and dark blue (Oxford) clothing. An excited tension was almost palpable after someone (looking at the large screen television showing the race) announced that they had started.
The cheering spread in a wave as the boats came into view around the bend before Hammersmith Bridge, gradually coming to our area. It was wonderful to feel part of something larger as I cheered 'OX-FORD' and 'OLD BLUE' once again (the first time having been at the rugby game in December). After the boats had passed from view, we ran to the field to see the large screen and watch the rest of the race. Cambridge had taken the lead early on, but appeared to have expended their effort too early to maintain such a high stroke rate. As a result, Oxford had passed them by the time they came to Hammersmith and only furthered their lead throughout the rest of the race. They finished in 17 minutes and three lengths ahead. It was amazing and I loved the entire event.
Afterwards, we took the Tube back to Victoria, had dinner at The Shakespeare, and then headed back to Oxford, where I participated in my last pub ever pub quiz at Far From the Madding Crowd (since I will be in Dublin next Sunday and the following week is Easter).
Schedule for the next few weeks:
Tuesday, 31 March: 'History Boys/Wine Night' at CMRS.
Wednesday, 1 April: Trip to Bath (If I am allowed to go with CMRS. I hope I am as I had such a lovely time at Hampton Court Palace).
Thursday, 2 April: Registration for Fall 2009 classes at 2:45PM; Lecture at the Sheldonian Theatre by the Turkish Prime Minister (Must remember to pick up tickets from the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies)
Friday, 3 April: Leave for Dublin!
Saturday, 4 April: DUBLIN
Sunday, 5 April: DUBLIN
Tuesday, 7 April: Trip to Cambridge (I insist on visiting every place that I apply to graduate school for if only to convince myself that it is the right decision).
Wednesday, 15 April: Return to Edinburgh.
Wednesday, 22 April: Graduate School Interview at St. Andrews