After the cancellation of the M1 division on Wednesday afternoon and the sub zero temperatures that followed into the night, it was no real surprise that CUCBC decided to abandon races on Thursday. Curtains were pulled open in the morning to another fresh dusting of powder, and a gloomy sky that looked ready to drop more of the white stuff.
Come midday, the rowers of Cambridge had become frustrated at the possibility of missing an entire bumps campaign, and cometh the hour, a Facebook group was set up to organise the mass clearing of the towpath so that Friday's racing would be safe. The plea was sent out for volunteers and the supply of shovels and salt in Cambridge swiftly decreased in what would become one of the most impressive rescue missions in recent times.
Despite the cold, hundreds of volunteers descended upon the towpath at 5pm, bringing with them determination, the last of Sainsbury's cookie supplies, and questionable forms of shovels (examples include baking trays and half of a snapped blade-college not known). Within the hour significant progress had been made-many scrapers only leaving once it had become too dark to continue, but it was clear that the plan had worked so far, and around half the towpath was safely cleared. M1's Silas Hope went from Corpus and did an excellent job at clearing. Some say this was because he had a effective tool and some say this was because as three seat, he was used to being a bit of a tool.
The next morning, with the rest was scraped and salted by a returning contingent of rowers (not including Jesus M1 who took the opportunity of a clear river to prepare themselves to be bumped by Caius). In what was a monumental effort by members of all Cambridge College's and some helpful locals, there is not enough time to mention everyone as it would have not been possible without the sheer numbers of people that turned out to help. However, highlights of the day must include the confusion of a guy called Pete Reed (not the Olympic Rower) who was added to the chat, and proceeded to question his involvement with such a strange event, asking at points, "Where is this towpath guys?" and "Cambridge MA or Cambridge, England?" Despite Pete's enthusiasm to provide as much assistance as possible, he was limited in usefulness by the fact that he was not a resident of Cambridge, and was, at the time, about to board a flight from Baghdad Airport, Iraq. Nevertheless he provided plenty of laughs.
With an extra day's rest, M1 will return fresh for tomorrow's hunt for Maggie II, knowing that in such arctic temperatures, the sooner we bump, the sooner we can put our warm layers back on!