"My Cambridge wouldn’t have existed without you Hareys, so thank you."Photo courtesy of Veronica Bonifacio

A few weeks before coming to Cambridge, I found myself taking a plane, a train and two buses from Germany to the depths of the Peak District. I was going to spend five days running with a group of university students I didn’t know. Sitting on that bus, as a nervous fresher with my phone signal slowly fading, I wondered what on earth I had gotten myself into. But taking that same bus five days later, I knew I’d found my squad. The Hareys are a unique and definitely often strange bunch, but that’s what makes the times with them so incredibly fun and special – everyone, although slightly different, fits in in their own way.

Love Letters to Cambridge

These are tough and uncertain times for us all, and a lot of us are left with little closure. Varsity are launching this series to give a platform to students reflecting on the parts of Cambridge they'll miss the most, and to gain some closure through writing. Just email our Features team with a 150-word pitch with your idea!

On the last Sunday of Freshers week, I was meant to go on a Harey bar crawl, but the week had taken its toll and I was not particularly in the mood for yet another night out. “Go! I’m sure you’ll enjoy it when you’re there”, a friend of mine told me, and she was 100% right. By 7pm, I was running through Cambridge, desperately hugging a melon, and I ended the night surrounded by a bunch of boys dressed in lycra or short shorts dancing away to cheesy tunes in Lola’s.

Over my (now seemingly) short three years with the Hareys, the dynamics have evolved, as core Hareys graduated and new ones joined the pack. No longer do socials consist of 10:1 gender ratios or Strada Mondays but have been replaced by Queen’s pasta and girls’ pre-drinks – yet the happiness they bring me has never changed.

"...we really are a Harey family, a family I couldn’t be more grateful to be part of."Photo courtesy of Veronica Bonifacio

I will never forget squeezing 40+ people into a Harey house for one of Paul Aste’s fine traditions of Thanksgiving, Burns night, or the inaugural HareyBall and gifting each other 20 kilos of potatoes, raccoons or wooden cabinets. I will never forget all the sweaty club nights in Fez, Edinburgh or Uxbridge after racing hard, drinking too much and eating too little in a dodgy buffet. From cooking each other dinner with strange ingredients, to bearing the cold to stand outside Sainsburys eating cookies and chatting to your favourite bunch of people, the friendships and memories they have given me have shaped my time at Cambridge like nothing else.

“It’s inspiring how much everyone invests in the club, how we all pick each other up to go from disappointed to better, from happy to ecstatic.”

Nonetheless, it hasn’t always been easy. Going from the top of the pack running at school to often falling far behind in Cambridge meant training and races felt daunting and were initially a battle against insecurity. In first year, there were countless Tuesday afternoons where I would sit in my room, running kit on, trying to gather the courage to head out to Churchill for the session. Would there be someone I could run with? Would everyone lap me and question what I’m doing here?

Even if they did think these things, no one ever made me feel like I didn’t belong or was too slow to join. After each session or race, I was always glad that I went. Nevertheless, that feeling would return and there were some Tuesday’s that I was still sitting in my room at 3:30. So, I’d take off my running shoes and tell myself I’d just go and session by myself later. That would be less embarrassing. But, as I spent more and more time with the club and took on responsibilities, I worried about this less. Certainly, by third year, I knew I’d always have someone to run with. Thanks 7:20 squad: even if I dreaded the 7am alarm after a Wednesday cindies or a late-night-essay, you made the miles enjoyable.


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Mountain View

Bittersweet is the wind tonight

It’s inspiring how much everyone invests in the club, how we all pick each other up to go from disappointed to better, from happy to ecstatic. There were times I found myself battling the swamps of Fen Ditton or the horrific wind at Holyrood park, hurting and questioning why I was putting yourself through this. But having a group of Hareys by your side – equally hurting and equally crazy enough to enjoy these things – makes it worth it. Whether it’s cheering for the mob matchers at Varsity or crowding around our BUCS tent, feverishly trying to calculate if the A girls made the bronze medal, we really are a Harey family, a family I couldn’t be more grateful to be part of.

To think that everything ended too early and that many things last term were my “lasts” without me even realizing it is incredibly saddening. But a wise Harey told me, “maybe that’s also a good thing, because you got to enjoy them without worrying about them being the last time.” There is definitely some truth in that, and I am very lucky to have had our annual dinner as my last night in Cambridge. My Cambridge wouldn’t have existed without you Hareys, so thank you. I’ll be back for varsities, training camps and annual dinners soon.

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