The 14th edition of the Shobdon Wood Race attracted a record turnout of runners eager to punish and challenge themselves on this testing woodland course. The field of 134 finishers, 53 of whom were female, was boosted by a big contingent from Maldwyn Harriers, who were employing the race as one of their club championship races, as were Ludlow Runners and Wye Valley Runners. A club training run around the course last Thursday evening declared it to be in excellent condition, but heavy rain on Saturday and overnight had made underfoot conditions muddy and slippery in parts. The rain kindly relented before the start of Sunday’s race and, thankfully, conditions remained dry until proceedings were completed.
The race was won by Mike Pfeiffer of Brecon A.C., who improved on his 2nd place last year, and he also led his Brecon team (with the assistance of 2 talented teenagers) to the men’s team victory.Mike has recently just been awarded his first Welsh vest in the Masters XC International event and, at the ripe age of 48, is in the form of his life. He took the lead on the second climb on the course and continued to extend his advantage to eventually win by a minute from Couriers’ Matt James with Croft’s very own Mark Lamonby battling well to take the 3rd place trophy.
Most runners’ times were slower than previous years due to the conditions, but Mark managed to knock 40 secs. off his time of last year when he finished 4th. Sam Mayglothling, still a running novice, was next Croft runner home in an excellent 6th place just ahead of Glyn who fought off the attentions of a fellow MV40 runner to win the O.40 award by just 4 secs. Like Martin in the recent Leinthall Starkes run, marathon training and a sparkling run at London seem to have strengthened and inspired Glyn. These 3 Croft runners placed 2nd in the team stakes. 22 Croft runners competed in the race including Patrick and Tom, who had arrived early in the morning to set out the markers etc. on the course before going round again. Pat can be pleased with his 17th position whilst Tom, although struggling with low energy levels at present, continues to impress with his prolific race schedule. Ashley Robinson ran particularly well around the woods that are a regular part of his training routes and finished 2nd MV60. Paul Green and Greg Davies, having their first taste of the race, will be pleased with their performances and Ben Rees was another to improve on his time of last year despite losing a shoe en route – the decision to make in those circumstances is : do I stop and mess about trying to put the shoe back on or do I pick it up and run with one soggy-socked foot ? Ben chose the latter option, spurred on by the motivation of keeping his club chairman behind him.
Star performance of the day, however, must go to Sue Davies and the club’s female contingent. Sue continues to be a marvel and, at the age of 49 (should I really be broadcasting that ?) is still showing the young upstarts the way to run, particularly on these testing courses. She had also spent the pre-race hours setting up the gazebo and helping with the organisation, but fought off the opposition to record a comfortable race victory, with Nadine Lewycky of Inkberrow second and a determined Irina Dale third. This was Irina’s last race in Croft colours before she altruistically heads for Ecuador to spend a year in voluntary service helping handicapped children. We will miss her and wish her well and hope that she finds her mission rewarding and fulfilling. We look forward to her return, possibly boosted by the effects of altitude training. These two were joined by Steph Main, running her first race for Croft, to convincingly win the women’s team award for the second consecutive year. Steph ran superbly to finish 5th female and also won the FV40 prize.
Steph was closely followed by Gemma (6th woman) who was joined by Sam H. (8th woman) and Ruth (11th woman) to finish as 2nd team as the Croft women totally dominated the event.
All the runners were rewarded with a cuppa, a donut and a big bag of Tyrrells crisps (thanks to Paul Green for arranging that) at the finish to round off a day that ran smoothly thanks to the teamwork and enthusiasm provided by all the marshals and helpers.I also arrived home just in time to witness Sunderland slotting in their 4th goal to beat fellow strugglers Cardiff City, so happy days all round.
Lots of bigger and better quality photos can be viewed in the Gallery.