Presteigne Final Winter League Race – The Ladies are Victorious!

REPORT BY: Sam Harper

RACE DATE: 04 February 2018

Another fabulous turnout from the Croft Ambrey Ladies for this the last race in the 2017-18 Herefordshire Winter Cross Country League. 16 Croft Ladies were at the start line for this new shorter route along with the over 75 men (Bryan for Croft) and the under 16 boys (3 of Croft up and coming youngsters, Sam, Jasper and Alec).

Last weeks recce run ended up being only a little helpful as the route had been somewhat changed – no doubt to take into account some very muddy sections and possibly to ease the number of marshalls required. This did result in a few new uphill sections (never seem to lengthen the downhills on these races!), fewer muddy ditches and a reduction of just over half a mile in the overall length of the course.

This undoubtably favoured some and not others, but the Croft Runners are never deterred and pulled out all the stops to provide a first class run once again.

I have to admit not knowing much of what went on for the other runners as there were no long straight stretches where you could see the field ahead. There was a very strong field of runners – especially in the vet 40 age category with Jo Rees Rhaydar taking first place Amy Fulford second and Laura Tootell. Irina was the first Croft lady home in 4th place, having fought off an illness that saw her miss Rotherwas. Gemma was able to run a cracking pace on legs which only the day before were competing over a marathon distance over the Church Stretton Hills, finshing only 31 seconds behind Irina. Kelly followed less than a minute later to complete the Croft A team, completing the winter league in style!

The B team was led by Katie in 13th followed by Nicky in 14th and Sam W in 15th with only 13 seconds between them – sounds like it was an exciting finish, one I would have liked to have seen.

Nicky is amazing!  We had been fairly close in the winter league races up to the last two but she is on cracking form, improving with every race and was out of sight right from the start,  35.06. Taking home the FVV55 gold medal!

Robyn is another who is on top form but unfortunately took a bit of a tumble at the bottom of the final steep hill climb and was sitting recovering as I went past. I am fairly sure everyone who passed her asked if she was ok and help was arranged but she was able to grit her teeth and did manage to complete the race at a somewhat more steady pace for the final mile. Here’s hoping for a speedy recovery for her to run next weeks Muddy Woody.

 

Jo T was next, great to see her getting back to form, all that post Christmas training paying off. It was great to have Emma running, but I have to admit a little frustrating, from a purely selfish point of view, in that I still can’t keep up with her, maybe I will manage it for a very short while sometime in July!

It is fantastic that our A and B teams have done so well in this winter league but I also can’t say enough how proud I am that so many Croft ladies have taken part in these winter league races. When I was sorting out the photos I came across one from the 2015 Presteigne race and there were eight of us at the start then – which at the time seemed a good turnout. We are now regularly seeing at least double that and long may that continue. This course has some nasty steep stretches, serious mud and little twists just waiting to get your ankles. The only nice bit is the downhill finish along the track which wasn’t made quite so easy this year thanks to a little detour along a footpath to the right. But still the Croft ladies finished with a smile. Sue hasn’t been running much lately but decided to come along and ran brilliantly, Tori has run well in every race she has been to and I think Flora just keeps on getting better and better. Well done to Lisa who is always telling me that she doesn’t like the mud, I think these races are beginning to change her views on that. She had a really fast finish with Gemma D both sprinting to the line, Lisa just holding her place in front of Gemma by three seconds.Theresa came along to the recce run the week before and wasn’t put off. She told me at the beginning of the race that she was happy to run around and was prepared to be last so I just hope that she is proud of herself coming in over thirteen minutes before the final runner and even got into a sprint finish with our own Andy Salt! I was hoping Dave had caught the moment where she was ahead but alas – should we have a caption competition for what she is thinking in the photo?

 

So in summary: first and third teams in the winter league. Gemma the championship winner, Irina second senior lady, Nicky FV55 winner. First, second and third senior ladies in the County championship (Gemma, Irina, Kelly) and winning team. Winning Vet team in the county championship for myself, Jo T and Georgina.

But most of all a total of twenty-eight (!) Croft Ambrey ladies took part in at least one race in the winter league. Brilliant ladies, just brilliant.

 

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