Being fairly strong on the hills and having enjoyed the few fell runs I have done around the Long Mynd I have decided to give the Shropshire Winter hill series a try, so long as the races don’t clash with the Hereford winter league. Emma was keen too so we set off for the first of the races – the Briedden Hills Race.
This is an 11km race with total ascent of 690m. It wasn’t until the day before that I noticed that it was a category A fell race, which means it is one of the harder ones. I was a little nervous about such a difficult race but had been previously reassured by Tom Davies that I would be capable of completing it, so full fell racing kit packed in case, but only a wind proof top required in the end, I was ready.
It was tough. The start is at Criggion village hall and is a steady uphill straight away and then, five peaks to climb, and descend. The pack quickly thinned out and for some stretches I was running alone but the way was well marked as well as having marshals. I struggled a bit coming down from the peaks with no runners just ahead to follow – a couple of them had no obvious paths and at one point I was shouting out at the person behind not to follow me as the only way down the way I had chosen was through some gorse bushes back to the footpath.
I think my face says it all in the photo where Colin the photographer had set up on a particularly treacherous scramble down the rocks after peak number three. It was a scary scramble down. I did think it may have been just me struggling, but looking at the photos the seated method does seem to be adopted by quite a few runners.
As always on hilly races, I held my own on the uphill only to be passed on the downhill by more confident and experienced runners. On the last descent along a forest path I was overtaken by two lady runners of a similar age and I can only hope to be able to pick up as much speed as they did – out of site by the end.
Results – first man Dominic Jones, Mercia 57.51. First Lady Zoe Barber, Mercia 1.10.55.
Big congratulations to Emma who was second lady 1.16.43. I was a little (!) further behind – 1.27.31. 59 out of 89, second in my age group. Happy with that.
Both Emma and I really enjoyed this race. It was a shame that Tom, Guy and Gary were not able to make this one as they are the fell running Croft regulars, but hopefully there will be a few more Crofties with us for the next – The Wrekin Wrecker on 19 November if anyone would like to come.