The start of the cross country season usually heralds the imminent arrival of winter – extra layers of running gear, splashing through gooey mud and the challenging Herefordshire XC League races. 20 intrepid Croft runners crossed the Welsh border to the scenic and welcoming venue of Fforest Fields for the first race in the 2014/15 series. Hopes of repeating last season’s successes were not high with a number of quality runners absent for various reasons. The men’s team was missing Stacey (suffering from post-marathon niggles), Simon (competing in the European triathlon champs. in Mallorca), Mark (still not recovered from his leg operation) and Andrew (sadly, no longer running) and that would have been our ‘A’ team. It was always going to be a tough proposition for the women’s team to retain their league title, particularly with Suzanne (now in the real world of saving lives as a fully qualified doctor in the Chelmsford area) and Irina ( still pursuing her humanitarian assignments in the rarefied atmosphere of Ecuador). Both teams ran remarkably well despite these difficulties.
Hereford Couriers were the emphatic winners of the men’s team race with Eliot Taylor again comfortably winning the race. With surprise package Monross Trailblazers taking 2nd team position, there was a battle to secure the 3rd place with just 2 race points separating the next 4 teams. The Croft awesome foursome just scraped it thanks to some determined running from Sam Mayglothling (willing the finish line to be just around every corner) in 12th place chased hard to the line by Dave George in 13th place (just one second behind and forcing Sam to run harder than he wanted to as they approached the finish). I always used to reckon that you try harder to beat your own team mates than the opposition. Glyn (reducing the distance from many of his recent protracted ventures) finished 21st and Greg (in his first XC race) ran superbly to complete the team in 24th. The ‘B’ team – all veterans and helping the ‘A’ team by pushing opponents further down the finishing order – finished 7th overall thanks to the efforts of Pat (2nd MV45) in 25th, Dave Ameghino 29th, Nigel Taylor (also running impressively in his first race in Croft colours) in 32nd and Mick Ligema ( 2nd MV55 and negotiating the tricky woodland conditions well) in 39th. The ‘C’ team finished 12th with Gary G. (2nd MV65) in 48th, Neil T. 52nd, Ian Price ( 3rd MV65 and great to see him running so well again after serious illness) 54th and Professor Green (returning after a bit of a rest) in 55th. Ashley C. in 63rd and Tom in 73rd completed the male contingent.
Wye Valley Runners were the dominant force in the women’s race but Croft battled well to take 2nd place with Sue ( 1st FV45 and starting to recapture some of the good form that saw her win this corresponding race last year) in 6th place followed by Jo ( 2nd FV45 – she always seems to get involved in a sprint for the line) in 10th and Steph (2nd FV40 with a brave run to hang on as fatigue hit home in the latter stages) in 11th. The ‘B’ team finished 4th overall thanks to Nicky (3rd FV50 and putting in some winter strength training for next year’s onslaught on the international triathlon stage) in 12th, closely followed by Sam H. (3rd FV40 and completing a gaggle of 4 Crofties in a row) in 13th and Rosie (running her first race in Croft sky blue) completing the team in 31st.
There are some photos on the website Gallery – apologies for the poor quality of some of them (many had to be deleted) as the focus on my camera was misbehaving. Does anyone have a spare cheap SLR camera that they want to dispose of ?