Thanks to all who helped today, in so many roles, but a special thank you to Tom and Patrick for going round the course beforehand (then racing three times round) to mark out the course for the 210 runners who competed today (not to mention checking that all the markers were collected up afterwards) – Guy
While awaiting action shots from yesterday, did anyone spot any of these young runners in the pack?
Once again our dedicated organising committee arranged almost perfect running weather for the 33rd Croft Ambrey winter XC race, with pale autumn sunshine and a light breeze. Like diligent green keepers, they even watered the course to make the going more comfortable underfoot. Thus the scene was set fair for another record turnout of 130 male finishers and 80 women. Congratulations to all Croft runners that took part and let me apologise at the outset if I don’t mention you individually by name because I know every Croft runner always gives it their all.
It’s great to see women’s running in the area going from strength to strength, so let’s begin there. Thanks to women’s captain Sam Harper for marshalling a strong team of 8 Croft women that secured 3rd place in the team competition. Once again Irina Dale led the Croft women home in a time of 36:17 and 6th place overall. Irina still seems to be enjoying the benefits of a year spent in the rarefied mountain air of Ecuador. Not far behind was the evergreen Liz Bowers, 9th overall (38:10) and 1st in the FV60 age group. I was apprehensive that Kelly Bowen might hit another mysterious air pocket and take another nasty fall of the kind that she experienced in the Ron Skilton half marathon but thankfully this was not the case; instead she was extolling the benefits of repeated immersion in icy water in a mud run she did the day before! Kelly was 3rd Crofter home in 38:35. Sam H. was 3rd FV40 (39:26) and Sue Powell pushed hard as usual for 1st FV50 (40:28). I think Julie Bownes might have been a winter XC debutante – well done to you and all the other Croft ladies.
In a good turnout of 20 Croft men (Jasper, I include you!), it was marvellous to see so many Croft Originals, or if not originals then those of an old and special vintage. In the MV70 category Guy Whitmarsh (66:54), Gary Gunner (71:56) and Brian Davies (77:35) completed a fabulous 1-2-3. Bryan Markham romped home to first MV75 and our international duathlete Ashley Robinson (62:10) beat Steve Herington to claim 1st MV65, Ian Price was 3rd MV65 in a great time of 63:52. Tom Davies ran as well as ever. Perhaps I have read too much Game of Thrones but I am beginning to suspect sorcery – have the Croft ‘seniors’ discovered the elixir of eternal youth? At the other end of the age spectrum it was fitting that Jasper Robinson won the U17 in 35:34.
Dave George continued his excellent form to lead home the Croft men in 19th place overall and 2nd MV45 (54:51), closely followed by Sam Mayglothing (21st, 55:23). It was good to see Sam back in competition after his exploits making first base in the Himalayas (or should I say reaching Base Camp?). Captain Greg Davies (26th, 55:52) completed the men’s first team. Watch out for dark horse Kevin Thomas, who once again popped up for the race and quietly went about his business in a very good time of 57:39, hovering under the radar like a Stealth Fighter. Paul Colley-Davies (63:57) paced his race beautifully, just 3 weeks after completing the Snowdonia marathon, gliding past me on the second descent down Fishponds valley and gaining ground continuously from then onward. I was pleased to record my fastest time since 2011 (64:55); retirement is providing the boost that I had hoped for. Well done to all those that I have not mentioned.