Croft woods handicap – race 4.

Race Reports
Another low turnout as the handicap series transferred itself to the new improved woodland course for the 4th, and first of 3 in Croft Woods, race in the 2015 event. Maybe the absentees were aware of the clarty (that’s a good old northern expression that I grew up with) mud awaiting them in Fishpool Valley. The runners emerged from the woods up Heartbreak Hill bespattered as though they had run 3 laps of the Croft XC course in the depths of a wet winter. There were, however, some excellent performances despite the soggy conditions.
Mark, in full training mode for his forthcoming Ironman Triathlon debut, had already splashed his way through countless lengths of the swimming pool before heading for the race – he wimped out of cycling there, the big wuss. This extreme training regime is obviously working well for him, having registered his best ever position in the Herefordshire leagues with a superb second place at Westhope last week and duly recording his first defeat of Stacey into the bargain. He continued this purple patch into this woodland race as he stormed around the course to break Will Hayward’s course record by 27 seconds. The remarkable Bryan was next home setting a record for the MV75 age group and becoming the oldest runner to complete the course – what an outstanding performance and a bonus for me as it keeps him quiet for 40 minutes or so. Tom completed the top 3 as he revelled in running around the route that he has designed so assiduously.
There were a number of P.B.s chalked up with Nigel’s being the most noteworthy as he knocked over 2 minutes off his best time of last season and broke Patrick’s MV45 course record by 34 seconds. His first appearance in the ranks of Croft Ambrey dates back to this very event a year ago and it is a measure of his improvement and determination that he is now a vital member of the club. Just 33 secs. separated the times of Nigel, Greg, Neil and Dave G. as they continue their own private battle for supremacy. Greg was the fleetest on this occasion but the others will be keen to reverse this next month.
Great to see Irina regaining some of her best form. Also, what an impressive performance from young Alex – his Dad is already looking anxiously over his shoulder.
Perhaps there is a salutary lesson to be learned from Jo’s evening’s activities. Having not consulted the race calendar on the website, Jo ran over to Bircher Common to participate in an anticipated training session to find herself with just a flock of reluctant sheep as training companions. A quick return to Croft served as an extended warm up for the handicap race. In the hope that it may avoid such confusion again, I will announce the date of the final 2 events in the handicap series. They are : Tuesday 11th August and Tuesday 8th September.

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The  evening  of  the  warmest  day  of  the  year  so  far  accompanied  by  unaccustomed  sunshine  to  make  conditions  difficult  for  the  first  of  the  Croft  woods  section  of  the  2012  Handicap  Series.  Richard, battling  to  regain  some  speed  into  his  legs  after  his  ultra  adventure  fought  his  way  down  the finishing  straight  to  cross  the  line  first, just  holding  off  the  fast  closing  Rob (making  an  impressive  debut  over  the  course)  and  he, in  turn, kept  at  bay  the  sprint  finish  of  Nigel  who  is  fast  regaining  his  form.

Sam  continued  her  sequence  of  setting  P.B.s  in  every  event  she  competes  in, whilst  there  were  notable  debut  performances  from  Irina  and  Ruth  who  entered  the  female  all-time  listings  for  the  course  in  9th  and  10th  places  respectively.  Ed  recorded  a  fast  debut  but  was  slightly  upstaged  by  a  flying  Jordan  who  entered  the  male  rankings  at  14=.

Star  performance  of  the  evening, however, came  from  the  fleet  footed  Suzanne  who  sliced  nearly  one  and  a  half  minutes  from  her  previous  best  to  go  to  no. 2  in  the  all-time  female  rankings.
1 Richard Hornsby 25.36
2 Rob Jones 24.16 Debut
3 Nigel Mason 23.26
4 Ruth Stafford 29.12 Debut
5 Glyn Williams 23.59
6 Simon Norwood 22.49
7 Jon Briggs 26.45 Debut
8 Gavin Wright 23.58
9 Tom Davies 29.25
10 Guy Whitmarsh 28.39
11 Sue Davies 26.51
12 Sam Harper 31.04 P.B. By 16 secs.
13 Patrick Pearson 25.54
14 Neil Taylor 27.45
15 Irina Dale 29.11 Debut
16 Gary Gunner 29.08
17 Bryan Markham 37.17

Mick Ligema 25.06
Ed Henry 24.01 Debut
Jordan McQueen 23.17 Debut
Suzanne Turvey 24.29 P.B. By I min. 27 secs.

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