Croft Castle X-C Nov 2016 – a MV65 view

Race Reports


(This was how we served refreshments in the old days!)

Once again near-perfect running weather, not too hot, not too cold and no wind to speak of. Before the race there was an impeccably observed minute’s silence to commemorate Remembrance Sunday. Mike showed us that he could have had a career as a stand-up comedian, by pointing out that technically speaking, it was a downhill race, since the finish was at a lower altitude than the start (by all of 10 cm?)

Hereford Courier’s Steve Herington missed last season due to health problems, but he was back with a bang in the previous race at Fforest Fields. I was well beaten by him in that race, so if I wanted to have a chance in my age group, I had to raise the my performance. So when he passed me on the first lap in Chestnut Avenue, I stayed with him, then overtook him. However, that did not last long. He overtook me once more, so I just stayed behind him. I allowed a few yards extra going downhill from the Fort so I could see where to put my feet, but otherwise dogged his footsteps for two whole laps, matching him stride for stride and making sure I passed anyone he overtook.

Going down the muddy slope just after the Fort, Steve’s nifty footwork made me wonder if he was also a good dancer. It also made me wonder if I had spent too long tripping the light fantastic the previous night at a wedding party.

I was heartened by the encouragement from the marshals – Thanks guys & gals – as we passed by, which also served to remind Steve how close it was. More than once, I thought it might come down to who could suffer the most.

But going through the rough stuff between the pond & Chestnut Avenue on the last lap he quickly left me 15 yards behind. It took all of the climb up to the top of the Fort to get close again, only to see him stride away once again on the lower descent of the Fishponds trail.

Throughout the race we had been very closely matched going uphill or down, but as we entered Heartbreak Hill for the last time, I thought he wasn’t climbing particularly fast. I steadily eroded the 15 yard gap, overtook him on the last steep part of the Hill, then sprinted for the line. My time was 62.10, exactly the same as my course PB of 2014.

3 thoughts on “Croft Castle X-C Nov 2016 – a MV65 view

  1. Good performance Ashley. You have just described what I miss most about running – the race, the battle, the competition, the rivalry. Yes, I miss the freedom of putting on a pair of trainers and heading out of the door to just run with freedom and abandon, but that was all a build up to a race.
    Steve H. is a mate of mine, and about a year younger, and he has informed me that we raced against each other once back in 1991 at the Offa’s Dyke race – not my kind of event. He beat me easily but that was one of my last races before enforced retirement due to an arthritic ankle injury and I remember hobbling home for the last few miles in extreme pain. I will never know whether I could have beaten him in an equal event. The mantle of keeping the Essex Boy in his place whilst wearing the sky blue colours of Croft Ambrey has now passed on to you. He will bite back.

  2. its good to hear these stories. Its nice to be able to crack on into old age, and god knows how long I will last, the niggles come and go. But the memories of such extreme events (let’s face it, 99.9 per cent of the population wouldn’t even consider such things) keep you going. The memories, under positive circumstances, do last forever, I believe. When I went on the Snowdonia Marathon recently, all I could see was flashbacks to the event 30 years ago. I feel like I am I the rocking chair now, reminiscing.. I hope you feel the same way, Mike, when you kindly offer your services to the fact, I know you do. The memories of running do indeed last a lifetime.

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