Archive for the ‘Sport’ Category

Head of the River Race 2015   Leave a comment

I was somehow convinced to jump into the crew of Wolfson first- and second-boat oarsmen entered into this year’s Head of the River Race. The regatta is a head race over the Championship Course on the London Tideway. It is the same 6.8 km stretch used in the Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race (raced in the opposite direction) and is known to be gruelling.

The weather was grey and windy, prompting the organisers to delay the start by 30 minutes while they considered whether the course was safe to row. We did manage to squeeze the race in just before the gusts turned the river truly unnavigable. Battered by wind and waves, Wolfson finished the course in a respectable 20 minutes and 2 seconds. We had an exciting overtake on Wolfson College, Cambridge, just after Hammersmith Bridge, and finished the course three abreast, placing 189th overall out of 345 entrants.

Posted 29 Mar 2015 by John McManigle in Rowing

Torpids 2015   Leave a comment

Despite predictions, after submitting my thesis in January, I did have one more bumps race in me: Torpids 2015! Without time to train during the writing-up period, I focused on coxing the women’s second boat. This was a fantastically strong and dedicated group of women, and when race week came, we pulled off something no crew of mine has earned yet: Blades! By bumping up four times over four days, W2 finished eighth in Division III as the third-highest second boat. It was also an historic year for the Wolfson women more generally, as all three women’s crews earned blades!

I also made a guest appearance in the men’s third boat when a rower was injured at the last minute, and of course did a fair amount of tannoy commentary. I’ll certainly miss Oxford bumps racing, and hope to make it back one of these days.

Click for a couple more pictures and a video of one bump…

Posted 7 Mar 2015 by John McManigle in Rowing

Novice Rowing Michaelmas 2014   Leave a comment

As my thesis-writing slowly drew nearer to its end, I had the opportunity to work with one last group of fantastic novice Wolfson rowers. In Christ Church Regatta, I coxed the novice women. These ladies trained hard and came out to race fiercely. We won five races over the four-day regatta, finishing third overall — the highest Wolfson women’s Christ Church result in living memory! As always, the successes were celebrated in full Oxford style at a fantastic dinner at the Wig and Pen.

Season of Mists

During training one morning, I snapped the picture above, which also ended up winning a Wolfson photography competition. Click for a few more!

Posted 29 Nov 2014 by John McManigle in Rowing

Summer Eights 2014   Leave a comment

I returned to Oxford in time to train for and race in one last bumps race: Summer Eights 2014. In a Wolfson rebuilding year, I was rowing in our men’s first boat and coxing the women’s second boat. Both crews performed strongly. While the men were bumped down over the first two days by speedy Magdalen and Trinity boats, we were able to hold position over Friday and Saturday — the latter in front of a very respectable Balliol. We finished seventh on the river, confirming the tenacity that the past several years have brought out in Wolfson.

The women’s second boat had a stronger performance still. We bumped St. John’s II on Wednesday, followed by a powerful row-over Thursday. We went on to bump St. Hilda’s on Friday, and rowed over Saturday, securing our highest finish since the modern women’s Summer Eights patterns started in the early 1980’s.

Eights14 1

Click for a bit more.

Posted 31 May 2014 by John McManigle in Rowing

Worcester Regatta 2014   Leave a comment

On a beautiful sunny English Saturday, the Wolfson first eight traveled to Worcester for a bit of pre-Summer Eights race practice. We entered the intermediate 2 and senior divisions. Only two crews entered the IM2 division, and Wolfson beat our opponents, Hertford College Oxford (another Eights Division I crew), by just over a length over the 850m course. In the afternoon Senior division, our first opponents, Stourport Boat Club, scratched, so we were again in an immediate final. We faced off against Keble College Oxford, a crew with six Blues rowers and two Olympians, Tim Foster and Storm Uru. Despite the odds, we maintained contact throughout the race and lost by just under a length. While any defeat is gutting, the crew was proud of that result against an extremely strong opponent.


Worcester Regatta Crew

Posted 17 May 2014 by John McManigle in Rowing

Henley Boat Races 2014   1 comment

Each year, Wolfson sends a contingent of Dark Blue supporters to the Henley Boat Races. These races include the varsity events for the men’s and women’s lightweight rowing crews. Additionally, 2014 is the final year in which the women’s openweight race was also contested in Henley. Thanks to a push by Newton, sponsor of the Women’s Boat Race, that race will join the openweight men on the Championship Course in London beginning in 2015.

After a winter of flooding, the river and weather came together in just enough time for a beautiful Henley Boat Races. The atmosphere on the bank was jovial as Oxford won two of the three varsity fixtures (lightweight and openweight women), losing only the lightweight men’s race.


Click for more pictures…

Posted 30 Mar 2014 by John McManigle in Notes, Rowing

Richmond Marathon   Leave a comment

744680-1293-0006sBilled as “America’s Friendliest Marathon,” the Richmond Marathon was the culmination of my running efforts this year. The event was huge and well-organized; there were over 6,000 marathoners and another 13,500 runners in the half marathon and 8k events. In addition to the standard water and electrolyte drinks along the route, the Richmond team had “party zones” with live music, wet wash cloth stations, and friendly pacing teams.

Though the day started out a bit dreary, and the first several miles were run in light rain (British English: “aggressive mist”), the rain cleared away after about an hour and left a beautiful, cool, overcast running day. I was able to stick with the 3:35 pacing group for the first 20 miles (an 8:11 pace), only dropping off in the last few miles. The final mile of the race was fantastic, with a gentle downhill slope and a mass of cheering spectators giving the runners energy. I managed to finish in 3:37:22, a new personal best and a 10 minute improvement on my Baltimore Marathon time from last month.

The inspired supporters’ signs in Richmond included “Run like someone just called you a jogger“, “Run faster, the half-marathoners are already done”, “Worst parade ever”, and “Go, random stranger, go!”

Click for a couple of pictures and results.

Posted 16 Nov 2013 by John McManigle in Running

Baltimore Marathon   Leave a comment

742073-1016-0013sThe latest of my running escapades was the Baltimore Marathon. Part of the huge Baltimore Running Festival, the race is 26.2 miles through downtown Baltimore, beginning and ending at Camden Yards. The festival draws quite a crowd: about 3,100 finished the marathon, 9,700 finished the half-marathon, 3,400 finished the 5k race, and 1,100 teams finished the marathon relay. The city is supportive as well; several neighborhoods come out in full force to cheer on the runners, and local schools and businesses organize cheering sections and displays.

My goal for the race was to finish in under 4 hours, get comfortable with the distance, and try not to injure myself before the upcoming Richmond Marathon. I’m very happy with the result — I finished in 3:48:56 and was still able to walk the next day. I went out a bit too fast and was slowed after the first third — especially by a bathroom break at 13.5 miles and the long uphill segment from miles 14 to 19. But the sub-4 result gives me confidence that I can do a little better at Richmond, where a flatter course will be on my side.

The spectators were fantastic, with signs that said “Run like you stole something” (appropriate for Baltimore), “Chuck Norris never ran a marathon” (though the Internet disagrees), “Run like a Kenyan, Drink like an Irishman” (there is no political correctness after 16 miles), “Smile if you peed a little” (cruel trick!), and of course “You’re running better than our government.”

Click for a few more pictures and results.

Posted 12 Oct 2013 by John McManigle in Running

Parks Half Marathon   Leave a comment

Without Wolfson rowing to keep me going, I’ve taken to a bit of running in the States. My goals this year are to run the Baltimore Marathon on October 12th and the Richmond Marathon on November 16th. As half-way training benchmark, I ran the Parks Half Marathon from Rockville, MD to Bethesda, MD on Sunday.

The weather was perfect for the race, cool and partly cloudy. The start was very well-organized, staggered by pace minutes and with lots of professional pacers available. I attached myself to groups of people who seemed to be going a reasonable pace for most of the race, and then started to speed up a bit towards the end. Water and Gatorade were available every two miles, and a surprising number of people turned out to urge us on. The most memorable supporters were a piano player at a local park, and a guy in a Mr. Incredible outfit playing music. The course wound through Rock Creek Park and then along the Capital Crescent Trail.

I finished the 13.11 miles in 1:46:35 (an 8:08/mile pace), which was just about what I’d planned. Running details are here. (The GPS pace isn’t overly accurate and tends to fluctuate quite a bit. Hopefully a stride sensor will be in the mix soon.)




Click for a few more pictures…

Posted 8 Sep 2013 by John McManigle in Running

Novice Rowing Michaelmas 2012   Leave a comment

This year’s novice rowing term was a bit of a struggle, as the river was often closed due to flooding. Just when it looked like the conditions would allow the Christ Church Regatta (the main event of the year for novices) to go ahead, torrential flows from upstream resulted in catastrophe, including a Somerville College boat snapped to pieces. The regatta was canceled.

Regardless, Wolfson came out of the season with a strong fighting spirit. One of the men’s novice boats was in the only division to race in Christ Church Regatta before disaster struck. The women’s first novice boat performed well in Nephthys Regatta and then was victorious in a mini erg race organized by University College when Christ Church Regatta was canceled. And of course, the friendships formed and boat club dinner festivities made the season an unforgettable one.


Click for more pictures and a note on IWL A!

Posted 24 Nov 2012 by John McManigle in Rowing