I'm on fire!...
Sorry for having been a bit quiet the last few weeks. It's not just been in the blogging world – I've been fairly withdrawn and fairly down for a little while. Blame tiredness, diet, workload, motivation, whatever. Things pile up and I can let them get on top of me. Sh!t happens. But I'm pleased to say there's a "however" here!
I've just experienced a number of the highlights of my university career, in the space of a couple of days. Here, Shall- and Adam -style, is a rundown, although this one's so long it's got a contents section!
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Thursday – PhotoSoc – Best Society 2004/05!
Friday – 'Glamour'/men's mag photoshoot
Saturday – British University Karting Championship round 1
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After a successful day messing around with foam bodywork moulds to help build a racing car, I got changed (via Leam, of course) and headed in to the Union for the Socs Fed Awards night. It was a superb evening, good music, really good atmosphere and lots of people knew one another, mainly from interminable days hanging around Union North – as Sabb Kat put it, more like a big house party than a night in the Union. I chatted to some lovely people from Codpiece, and others from RAG, RaW, Expedition Soc, Warwick Engineers, Real Ale,... the list goes on!
The awards started strangely when MORSE beat Expedition Soc and Jailbreak to the Best Non-Social Event. They continued a little strangely too – Chinese Soc deserved Best Social Event for their Chinese Festival, but Table Football winning Best New Society? Apparently they did a lot for equal opps this year. Then to the big ones – I was delighted for Codpiece, one of my old societies, who very deservingly won Most Improved ahead of other very strong contenders like WTV and (genuinely) Warwick Engineers.
A few minutes later, a little bewildered, I found myself on stage collecting PhotoSoc's award for Best Society! Quite surreal; I didn't think we had a chance, especially (or despite) having won Most Improved last year. Cue much embarrassing passing of the mic as we were all a bit too drunk to know what to say. Oops. Well done to all the other contenders, especially Islamic (who, rumour has it, came a close second), StreetVibe who always have such a great attitude and the big socs, especially RAG and RaW, who I think are often taken for granted in the Society awards.
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Still grinning lots, we met up again at lunchtime for a four-hour studio photoshoot on Friday afternoon. PhotoSoc is collaborating with Fashion Soc to create a calendar, possibly to be promoted by a well-known men's magazine. I can't wait to get my slides back from the lab, as I'm pretty confident I got some gorgeous shots. It would be hard not to have done with such professional (and good-looking) models, set and make-up. The photos were very much along the lines of the kind of photo you expect to find in a men's magazine – at the models' insistence, the shoot having been designed and set up by them – but it was so professionally done it didn't feel at all weird to be taking pictures of female students with few clothes on. A great afternoon's work.
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The first round of the British University Karting Championship, for which I'm captain of the 3 Warwick Motorsport teams. An explanation: 52 teams take part, with four drivers per team. The organisers can only run 35 karts on the grid, so they run six races, with each team taking part in four of them (one race per driver). The starting positions are determined by a computer program such that everyone's 4 grid slots average out to the same thing. Teams then drop their worst race result and add up the others to determine overall standings. Got all that? If you're interested, the karts do about 70 mph and 0–60 in 4.5 seconds (about the same acceleration as a Porsche) – pretty quick!
Warwick A had some superb results – our first guy out was heading for 6th from 21st on the grid, but unfortunately spun, lost 10 places and gained 6 of them back in the last 5 laps. 10th place not too bad but a little disappointing. Sending Ben out for the next race got an extremely exciting 2nd place and fastest lap of the day, which Ian followed up with a victory! Hoping to be able to drop our 10th place score, we sent our last driver out from 24th telling him to just go for it. A couple of first-lap crashes near the front left him in 7th by lap 2, and he brought it home 25 minutes later in a superb 6th place. Great pitstops all day long – a bit lucky, perhaps, but deserved after some of our bad luck last year – and a final result of 3rd out of 52! Only Hertfordshire and Leeds ahead of us, and we beat defending champions Oxford Brookes on countback. Superb.
And me? Well in addition to team-managing the A-team, I was racing for our B-team. I love the track at Whilton Mill, and even more so now. I decided to put myself in for our 2nd place start (on a grid of 35) and see what happened. Bear in mind I'd never had a top-15 finish in 7 previous races!
We got underway; my main concern was to survive the first lap. The karts are direct-drive (i.e. clutchless), so if you spin or stop at any point, the engine stalls and you need to wait for assistance to restart. Basically your race is screwed. Some guy from the second row took the lead with a great start, but I overtook the pole-sitter as well, so held second. The leader didn't pull away from me like I'd been expecting; I was staying with him and lapping quickly – so quickly that I signalled to my team-mate not to pit me as early as we'd agreed. Luckily he understood, waited and pitted me as soon as I started lapping heavy traffic. One perfect pitstop later, it was a case of pushing hard – at one point I lapped a backmarker with two of my wheels way up on the grass! – and seeing what happened. I had no idea where I was and it was only when the last lap board came out as I was approaching it, that I realised I was leading. Chequered flag came out, I went crazy, haven't stopped smiling since!
The biggest problem/regret/downer – and it's not much of one – is that I've only spoken to about 10 people who realise what an achievement it is to win a BUKC sprint race, and most of them are former winners & quicker than me! Thanks to Ems, the only non-Motorsport-member who really 'got it'.