“Runners BEWARE!’ cautioned the notice at the race start which warned of 18 inch bogs, waterlogged holes and dire warnings about keeping to the route! Fortunately, the mud was less of a problem for me than losing the course altogether (but more of that later!).
Setting off from the town square, 60-odd runners followed a figure of eight that started with the ‘Big Hill’ where we scrambled steeply up through a forest before joining a zigzag path across muddy moorland and beautiful scenery to our highest point. A long, windy descent down a stony forestry track took us back to the town square. Here, I would have given anything to be doing the relay and be able to stop! My feet barely seemed to clear the mud when we began our second slower ascent, through fields, moorland, forestry tracks, water and so.
Head down, focusing on each footstep, I missed a vital marker which would have sent me up one final hill and then downward to the finish. Instead I chose a different hill to climb, oblivious to the fact that none of the frequent blue trail markers seen elsewhere on the course were visible!! Several others followed me until the general consensus was that we had taken a wrong turn. 15 miles and an embarrassing 2 hours 46 mins later (but not last), I made it back just about coherent! A few others made a similar error, with Neil Powell clocking 17 miles in total. Not only did he climb the wrong hill but had a serious lack of judgement: seeing me ascending a mile below he decided that I must know where I was going so carried on up! (Obviously, hasn’t been exposed to my lack of directional sense before!).
Anyway, I must thank the six or so Croft runners who turned up for this challenging but scenic memorial race which is very close to my heart. Ron Skilton was my uncle and co-founder of Green Events (which organises the Man v Horse race and the World Bog Snorkelling Championships!). Also, a large number of my family help coordinate and marshal the event which raises money for the Motor Neurone Disease Association, so your participation was greatly appreciated.
Performances, for those who correctly completed the course, (12.77 miles and 2880 feet of ascent/descent) were impressive. Simon was 7th (1:41:41), followed by Ashley 8th and fastest M50 (1:46:31). Daren came in at 2:02:48 and Tom 2:06:52 (fastest M60). I’m sure Stuart and Neil would prefer me not to share the times of their detour with you (at least they should get PBs on the course if they can face it again next year!). The fastest man was Gareth Green for San Domenico (1:30:55) and fastest woman was Aly Cooke for Hereford Couriers (1:52:52).
So, for those you who prefer the challenge of hard, slow and up, to hard, fast and flat – you may wish to ditch Cardiff next year and try Llanwrtyd Wells instead!