Cambridge University sports clubs have raised an estimated minimum of £23,243 for charity since the start of the COVID-19 crisis.Louis Ashworth

They may not be able to meet, play matches or race, but with the help of social media, many Cambridge sports clubs have turned their athleticism into altruism this term, as Varsity estimates that university and college athletes have collectively raised at least £23,243 during lockdown.

Varsity is aware of eleven different clubs supporting thirteen different charities, many donning their running shoes to meet ambitious targets, both in terms of distance covered and donations collected.

Lacrosse players supported the Trussell Trust and Crisis UK, Triathletes sprinted for the Red Cross, and Cambridge University Ladies Netball Club (CULNC) put the miles in for Cambridge Women’s Aid (CWA).

"Almost half of the overall amount raised by Cambridge teams this term came from the Power2Inspire Virtual Boat Race"

At the start of May, CULNC spoke to Varsity about their fundraising challenge: running 1000km in just ten days in order to raise funds for CWA.

Yet this initial target was met in just five days – by the end of the challenge, the team had run 2000km collectively and, at the time of writing, their fundraising page stands at £5,852. We spoke again to president Carla Hill, who told us the following:

“We're so grateful for all the donations that we received, which will hopefully make a real difference to some of the most vulnerable in the Cambridge community during this time.”

Also in May, Cambridge University Triathlon Club participated in a virtual sprint competition with other UK universities, raising £275 for the British Red Cross.

Around the same time, teams from Cambridge University Women’s Lacrosse Club (CUWLC) and Cambridge University Mixed Lacrosse Club (CUMLC) were competing against Oxford in virtual fundraising varsities.

CUMLC ran 967km and cycled 601km, raising £1,096 for Crisis UK, and beating Oxford’s total. CUWLC also raised more than their rivals, with donations for The Trussell Trust reaching £1,895. The women’s team ran 1243km between them in just seven days.

"Putting this energy surplus to use to raise £23,243 for charities seems a worthy alternative to beating Oxford in real life"

Varsity spoke to CUWLC’s Fundraising Officer, Saskia Wormsley, who told us about their choice of charity: “CUWLC chose to support The Trussell Trust – a food bank charity… the need to provide food for people in need is more important than ever. Last year, food banks in their network provided more than 1.6 million emergency food parcels to people in crisis”

Almost half of the overall amount raised by Cambridge teams this term came from the Power2Inspire Virtual Boat Race, which was also won by the light blues. Mixed crews of eight included able-bodied, disabled, lightweight and openweight rowers who raced against Oxford from home on ergometers.

The Cambridge team raised £10,643, beating their opponents by 2.5 seconds, or four fifths of an aggregated boat length.

Spread across the world, Cambridge University Women’s Boat club and Cambridge University Lightweight Rowing Club also participated in Row Britannia, a 2,020 mile team rowing challenge through which they raised £1450 for Sport Relief.

College Rowing clubs also caught the fundraising bug – Hughes Hall College Boat collected for Cambridge City Foodbank, and Homerton College Boat Club chose to run for CPSL mind and the Campaign Against Living Miserably.


Mountain View

Pirton Rugby Club tackle racism in 400-mile run for charity

The fundraising isn’t over yet. As term wraps up, two more major fundraisers gain momentum – Pembroke and Girton Rugby Football Club’s runathon for Show Racism the Red Card, and Virtual May Bumps 2020, which is raising money for both the East Anglia Children’s Hospices and Cambridge v Covid-19. At the time of writing, ‘Pirton’ RFC have already raised £1,755 of their £2000 target and ran 195 miles between them.

Countless competitions, varsity matches and races have been cancelled due to COVID-19, leaving team members disappointed after two terms of gruelling training. Yet putting this energy surplus to use to raise £23,243 for charities seems a worthy alternative to beating Oxford in real life.

To donate to any of the charities supported by Cambridge sports clubs this term, follow the links in this article, or visit the clubs’ social media pages.