It’s rather heretical to say so but I enjoy the rhythm of these multi-lap courses. Yes, there should be a hill somewhere but I like the challenge of finding the right pace and tempo and having your rivals in sight for most of the time. With a combined age of 197 years, a trio of Croft Ambrey runners, comprising Ian Price (age 69), Ashley Robinson (68) and me (aged only 60) enjoyed a terrific “race within a race”. As ever, Ashley set off at a blistering pace, hoping to establish an insurmountable lead over his main age group rivals. By the end of the first lap Ashley had a commanding lead of around 200m ahead of Ian Price, who was determinedly tracking Kelly Bowen, as she powered around the course. About 100m further back, I was using Steve Mesham of Presteigne to help pull me back into contention and then on lap three, drawing alongside Steve Herrington, as we headed along the riverbank into a slight southerly breeze. Bringing up the rear of the group I had a grandstand view of the battle ahead. At around the 5-mile mark Kelly and Ian were closing the gap on Ashley and I was closing the gap on all three, with hopes of taking a scalp. But I could see just how deep everyone was digging. Kelly would not give way to Ian and Ashley would not give way to any of us. Round the final corner I made one final attempt to make up ground but all to no avail. Ashley led the trio of men home in 48:11 and 1st MV65, followed by Ian in 48:40 (2nd MV65) and me in 48:43 (2nd MV60). Ashley was 4th member of the Croft A team, another great performance for a veteran athlete.
Younger Croft men acquitted themselves admirably. Will Gore had another strong run in 49:43, looking good as he sprinted to the finish. Scott Hardie was delighted to smash his 10k PB (Rotherwas is 10k plus ¼ mile) in a time of 50:30, becoming the 4th member of Croft Ambrey B. Sam Roberts won a very competitive U17 race in a storming 27:02 over two laps, with Jasper Robinson 5th in 31:35.
Up at the front Andy Salt went for broke but was evidently weakened by the rigours of his stag night and honeymoon over the Christmas period, after his marriage to Lauren. Consequently, a posse of determined rivals led by the returning Tim Iveson of Builth took revenge after Andy’s victory at Monkhall farm. Andy led home the Croft A team in 6th place (38:12), with another good performance by Mark Thomas, 12th overall and 2nd MV40 in 40:04. Despite some recent sinus trouble, Glyn finished 35th overall in 35:03, continuing a terrific sequence of results in this winter series. Also recovering from illness, Guy did what was necessary to keep both hands on the MV70 trophy, with a time of 56:35, closely followed by Rob Wood in 56:54. Tom continued to battle against injury niggles to finish in 60:29 and Bryan Markham had a very good run in 70:59.
All in all, we were a small but determined Croft men’s team in a highly competitive race on a good day for racing. Well done to all the Croft women, particularly Gemma who smashed it in 45:14 to finish as first female. Final stop Presteigne on 4th February.