In 1839 we saw the inception of the Grand National; in 1829 Oxford and Cambridge held their first ever boat race; but neither of these two events compares to the more modern – and outright bizarre – goat race. Goat racing isn’t a pastime you’d expect from students of the country’s most prestigious universities, but even the academics of the world need to let their hair down every once in a while.
The 2015 Goat Race
The 2015 goat race took place in East London’s Spitalfields City Farm, just down the road from the boat race. This year veteran athlete Hamish the pygmy goat – representing Oxford – managed to beat newcomer Hugo in a neck to neck, jaw dropping 200 metre sprint. It was his sixth year of competing and he was given a home grown edible trophy to honour his victory, which he scoffed down seconds after casually strolling past the finish line.
Farm manager, Mhairi Weir, told press that the goats were dedicated athletes who practice every day in preparation for the event. Apparently the goats race during the day, sometimes choosing to take a slow pace if they’re feeling a little lazy or bloated on veg. The fundraiser made enough money to cover Spitalfields City Farm’s food expenses for the entire year.
The 2015 Boat Racing
On a more serious note, the 2015 Oxford vs Cambridge boat race also took place on 11th April. As always, the Bishop’s Park and Furnivall Gardens river bank was completely packed with students and rowing enthusiasts – and that’s not to mention the thousands of people watching the broadcast live on television. Once again, this year proved that the race truly is one of the most coveted rowing events in the UK.
Oxford won the men’s race, making it their sixth victory in eight years. President of the team, Constantine Louloudis, is now the 15th man to have four wins to his name. The women’s team, however, upstaged the men’s by earning their seventh win in eight years. Each victory took place on a 2,000 metre Henley course. Wind was against the tide, which increased the difficulty and led to some high waves at the half way mark. Trophies were presented by the five time Olympic gold medallist Steve Redgrave, who praised both teams for their performance.
Watching Goats and Boats in 2016
Whether you want to watch goats or boats in 2016, both events provide a unique experience bringing together a mixture of London’s zaniest, athletic and academic. With food stalls, beer tents, souvenir shops and live music, the atmosphere at both events is simply electric. If you really want to get involved in the festivities next year, best start preparing for the Goateoke or Goatest Dancer contest.
The Oxford vs Cambridge Boat Race holds a pivotal role in the history of these highly prestigious universities. The competition started 86 years ago, and for many of the athletes, it serves as a platform to the Olympics. If you’re in London next year and want to witness the making of some of the country’s future rowing champions, be sure to save the date.
2016 will mark the eighth Oxford vs Cambridge Goat Race and the 87th boat race. Expect hoards people in and around Spitalfields and on the shores of the Thames. If you feel like beating the crowds and getting the best view possible, book a trip on the London Helicopter.