Many athletes at Durham University welcomed the return of sport this week following months of uncertainty about whether their Stash will have ‘meaning’ this year. However, in light of the lockdown exemptions given to outdoor activities, reports have found that an unprecedented number of students are taking to the streets, benches and shops of Durham in the name of ‘sport’.
Making the switch from nightclubs to Clubcards, many students have taken to the Hunt of the Yellow Label. Queues to gain entrance to the [unspecified supermarket] have been known to extend down to the riverside, where rowing clubs are feeling the competition. The new sport requires mental stamina, determination, and a keen eye. To the newer sportspeople who forget to grab a basket at the beginning of the session, flexibility and strength are also put to the test as they add ‘just one more’ item while waiting in the queue (read: halloumi, teasingly placed before the centre checkout). The only kit required is a substantial bag and wallet, and the reward is a lifetime’s (or a week’s) supply of top-tier ice cream.
In lieu of the much revered (and much too strenuous) Park Run, some students are taking to the Coffee Run. Seasoned addicts are bringing their coffee dates outdoors to ensure that their Instagram Stories do not become dangerously original. Hardened athletes regularly participate in a Coffee Relay, completing a lap of the Riverwalk to finish one drink with one friend before they reach the next shop, and the next friend. Passers-by should exercise caution in the common routes; athletes on their fifth flat white of the day tend to show immense, if slightly jittery, speed.
In a similar show of speed, a record number of students can be seen running out of their homes at around half-past the hour. Upon the starting gun – ‘let’s go to Breakout Rooms’ – participants must begin with a muted scream before slamming their laptop closed, vacating their (probably broken) desk chair and – forgive me – zooming out of the house. The UK government’s Minister for Sport is reportedly in talks with Zoom founders, having never seen such an effective means of inducing young people to get active.
For those less interested in walking, there is the increasingly popular option of Benching. The sport is not to be confused with the activity of the same name usually undertaken in the gym – that is believed to be too much like hard work. Rather, Bench-players can spend up to two hours practising their Sitting, and teams of Bench-players may take turns on the bench to increase their core strength. For this activity, a coat is a must – puffer coats being the unofficial DU kit – and as many other layers as can be worn without compromising Sitting ability. Participants may up the stakes with additional challenges: counting and cringing at how many times you hear the words ‘Panny D’; guessing students’ colleges based on their shoes; watching rowers crash; causing rowers to crash (not supported by the author); drinking hot chocolate (very much supported by the author); solving the greatest problems of mankind; befriending passing dogs.
Remarkably, some students have even been spotted throwing around and chasing plastic plates early in the morning, with many participants wearing colourful snoods and hats. The author can confirm that this is, apparently, normal. Some people were a little odd even before the lockdown.
Now, if someone could organise some purple Stash for the aforementioned sports, please let the author know.
Image by Bob Haarmans on Flickr.