“To the woods, to the woods”. ” I’ll tell the vicar”. “I am the vicar” is a (not very funny) joke I recall from my dim and distant childhood days. As the handicap series transferred from the roads to Croft Woods, the hidden trepidation in the runners’ minds did not dwell on the prospect of being ambushed by some dodgy clergyman lurking in the bushes but more the dreaded prospect of dealing with the challenge of Heartbreak Hill just before the finish line.
Gary Gunner, having already overtaken 16 runners and apparently coasting towards victory, took a peep over his shoulder whilst nearing the summit of the final steep hill and spotted the rapidly approaching young legs of Alec Harper hunting him down. Gary’s relaxed mindset, expecting to cruise home, was now drastically transformed to one of panic as he now had to persuade his tired old legs to summon up the strength for a sprint finish. He just managed to hold off his attacker, who is over half a century younger, as he collapsed across the finish line. The length of time it took for Gary to regain an upright position illustrated how deep he had dug into his reserves. The fast-finishing Alec, who zoomed past 29 runners with a cheery wave, recorded the quickest time of the night and made a big revision to his P.B. It is 10 months since we last raced around this woodland course and it offers a guide to the progress of the improving runners. Alec’s time of 24.47 takes him to 14th on the list of best male times recorded on this course. Completing the top 3, with Alec as the filling in the septuagenarian sandwich, was Guy Whitmarsh, whose time was just 6 seconds shy of Gary’s.
Another youngster producing an impressive performance was Will Gore, who knocked a huge 3 mins. 16 secs. off his best of 2017. The club’s younger element is the future of Croft Ambrey and it is rewarding to witness their improvement. Will’s time now places him 15th on the men’s listings.
It almost goes without saying these days that Kelly Bowen will set a P.B. with almost every race. Kelly’s prowess over all distances and terrains is truly remarkable and her time of 26.40 now places her as equal 2nd best female over this course, on a par with the infanticipating Emma Morris. Sue Powell was obviously inspired by her 3 Peaks adventure as she lowered the distance and altitude and her own FV55 course record time.
Yet again the female competitors far outnumbered the males, with big improvements from Flora, Gemma, Nicola, Tori, Theresa and Donna. We welcome Louise Reynolds to the Croft ranks and her debut run slotted her into 18th place in the rankings, whilst Nicky Turvey, having been a club member for almost a century, finally made her debut on the new course with a time that places her 19th in the rankings
Although Bryan did not have one of his better runs – he had set a P.B. at the Ludlow Parkrun just 4 days previously – he ran his first handicap race as a 78 year old, which is a record in itself.
The penultimate race in the 6 race series will be held on Tuesday 14th August.