Was it the heat, was it the remoteness, or was it in part down to absences on account of the Three Peaks race, but numbers were well down on race 1, with only 123 finishers, and Croft men being particularly thin on the ground.
What a contrast with the first running of this course four (?) years ago, when we splashed through puddles and competed with a torrent as we made our way up through the last wood. From the start there was the usual fast run across the first field, a dip in the second and then a bit of road before the endless common, finally recrossing the road to go down to the river Dore, which we forded then recrossed, before the climb up again finally crossing (numerous!) fields until we reached the last field and a hazardous descent over slippery dry grass, followed by a steep climb, a drop and a final climb up to the finish line.
Mark L was our first runner home, just holding off Ludlow’s Oscar Dicken, to finish 5th in 35.27. Then there was quite a gap until Nigel (27th, 40.45), a minute ahead of our first lady, Irina (31st) who again had a fine run. Then we had to rely on our juniors to complete the male element of the A team, with Alec (1st U17) 34th (42.10) and Will 38th (42.31), who both did themselves proud. Kelly (41st, 42.53) is still able to hold off Gemma (51st, 44.44). Neil (2nd MV60 – Ed Davies is just too strong!) was next, followed by Roxy, choosing to make her debut over the tough Abbey Dore course! Ashley and Jo T both suffered from the heat (more than most of us). Lucy and Kerry battled around the course, more or less together in a commendable time of 54 minutes, with Tori on 59 minutes and then Louise gamely completing the run although looking almost out of it as she crested the penultimate rise in the last field, and then still managed to run up to the finish. Bryan was 1st MV75.
The A team still managed 3rd place on the night (3rd overall), with the B team in 6th overall (11th on the night) and the C team 11th (13th on the night). A better turnout at Westhope and we could still move up to 2nd, overtaking Ludlow.