The second race in the Herefordshire Winter X/C league was in the stunning setting of Croft Castle, a venue and route that many of us know and for some reason we keep coming back and look forward to the gruelling course each year hoping we can improve on previous results. The course definitely lived up to expectation, with the amount of rain we had had prior to the race it made what was already a mud filled course into more of a bog. This was especially true when getting to the top of the Ambrey, due to cattle having been grazing on the ground in the months leading up to the race the descent to the bottom of the hill became even tougher. With the course being laps it also meant that by the third lap plenty of runners had gone over the terrain to make it even more slippy, which in turn led to plenty of moments where staying on your feet felt like an achievement. Overall though we had good racing conditions on the day which led to fantastic results for the men.
We had 23 Croft Men take on the gruelling course which when considering we were hosting the event is a fantastic number and one, I hope will only go up as the league goes on. Our first runner home was Gareth Leek, an absolutely exceptional performance from Gareth who was 3rd overall and gave an incredibly strong start to the A team. Second home was Mark Lamonby, who leading up to the event had been suffering with Man flu, however he still showed up and did his part for the team and looking at the results we were very grateful that he helped the Croft team out. He was 6th home in a time of 53.24. the next was Jack Wilson. Jack who has been out conquering ultra-events came to take part in his first race of the series and produced a good performance coming home 10th repeating the success he had in the race last year. He is a very strong addition to the A team, and someone who I hope will be taking part in the rest of the league. After feeling rubbish the whole week I was happy to finish in 24th place and I was the last member of the A team. A few other performances that stood out were firstly the B team, consisting of Glyn, Nigel M, Nigel T and Matt had a fantastic grouping and continue to show what a strong men’s section we have at the club. Greg Jones continues to show form from the summer league series coming home in 55th place in a time of 65.41. After a successful recce run the week before Rob Wood knew how tough the race was going to be, however he didn’t let that show coming home in 105th place in a time of 80.38, an impressive time and shows that the hard work Rob puts in at training and doing these races can help improve your time. We also had Brian Davies, who I believe has run in every one of these races at Croft Castle which is an impressive achievement and one that I imagine is exclusive to him. He finished in a time of 94.35. Nick Paviour, who finished in a time of 97.38 told me how tough he found the race but was happy he had done it. Nick should be very happy with his race, the course is one of the toughest we do and completing it is a feat in itself.
It was a great result for our men’s team who on the day finished in 2nd on 43 points and puts us in 3rd for the series totals. We should be looking to try and hold this position now going into the next race on December 1st at Queenswood. I hope we can get as many Croft men there as possible and try and really push to keep that 3rd spot from Wye Valley.
Well Done Guys, UP THE CROFT!