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30 August 2020 | in NUSF News

Monash University crowned UniRoos champions despite COVID-19 lockdown

"With the mental health issues at the moment and increased numbers of depression and anxiety, we needed to emphasise the importance of getting outside and getting some fresh air and exercise.”

U Monash run 2

Despite being the only state or territory in Australia to currently be under tough lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Victoria’s Monash University has been crowed the Men’s Champion University in UniSport Australia’s Virtual Distance Running Championships.


UniSport Australia ran the Championships in conjunction with the Gold Coast Marathon which was run virtually for the first time, with university students, staff and alumni from around the country running 5km, 10km, a half marathon or a marathon and recording their results on the ASICS Runkeeper app to get points for their university.


U Monash run 1A student-athlete from Monash UniversityDespite Melbourne residents being currently allowed to leave the house only for essential services including one hour of exercise a day, Monash University not only won the Men’s Championship, but also placed second in the Women’s event.


The roles were reversed with the Queensland University of Technology, which was named the Women’s Champion University and finished runner up in the Men’s competition. The University of Queensland (Men’s) and South Australia’s Flinders University (Women’s) rounded out the podium.


For Team Monash, Programme Leader Carolyn Gordon, this event was a great opportunity for students to find a sense of belonging while studying at home. “We really wanted to emphasise the intervarsity competition and spirit, and it was more about the importance of getting people active than winning,” Gordon said.


“We wanted to create that sense of belonging to the university – even though you're working or studying from home, you’re still a part of Monash. The results speak for themselves and together we achieved great results."


“The Monash spirit definitely came out; we are a competitive bunch and it was great to have that friendly rivalry as well.”


Gordon added that events such as the Virtual Running Championships were incredibly important especially for Victorians, given the isolation they are currently facing.


“We just really wanted to encourage people to do something for themselves, for their mental health and wellbeing,” she said. “It is hard right now, there's so much Zoom fatigue and everything's online."


“If this competition motivated someone to get a better time than they did last week or go for a run every day instead of sitting on the couch, then that’s great.


“With the mental health issues at the moment and increased numbers of depression and anxiety, we needed to emphasise the importance of getting outside and getting some fresh air and exercise.”


Caitlin Adams AUS 1Caitlin Adams from University of South Australia in action at the Napoli 2019 Summer UniversiadeAs important as it was for the Victorians, competing in the Virtual Championships was important to students all around Australia. University of South Australia student Caitlin Adams is an elite long-distance runner who represented Australia in the 5km event at the Summer Universiade in Naples, in 2019.


In the Virtual Championships, Adams was crowned the fastest female over 10 kilometres with her time of 33 minutes and 19 seconds. While the COVID-19 situation isn’t nearly as difficult in South Australia at the moment, the race was essential motivation for Adams as she dealt with the postponement of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.


“Without coronavirus, this year would have looked a fair bit different for me,” Adams said. “My training group and I were going to go to Arizona for an altitude training camp, then travel around the world racing some of the top distance meets and do as much as we could to qualify for the Olympics."


“Since the postponement, we’ve been doing a lot of training, a lot of aerobic work, so it’s been awesome to spice things up, have a race on the calendar to look forward to and not just be in this really long block of training.”


Due to the Masters of Secondary Education students’ athletic commitments alongside her study, Adams hasn’t had the chance to represent UniSA at UniNationals events yet. That’s what made this opportunity to race, and win, for UniSA so special.


Caitlin Adams AUS 2Caitlin Adams with UniRoos teammates at the Napoli 2019 Summer Universiade

“Before I graduate, I really want to tick off competing in the UniSA guernsey,” Adams said. “With UniNationals cancelled this year, it was actually really good to have something where I could represent UniSA and compete for them at least once in 2020."


“It was a sealed road 10km personal best time for me, so I was really happy to come out on top with that one.”


Adams is now looking forward to 2021 and hopeful of other opportunities to qualify for the Olympics and represent UniSA at an in-person event.


Meanwhile, Monash University are getting creative with how they engage their students at this time and next week are launching a cooking competition via their social media for their members.


FISU byline Kirralee edited 1