What a day to go down in the Croft history books – two Croft ladies teams in the top three! First and third!
To say I am pleased is a complete understatement.
At the beginning of the week I was a little concerned that numbers were going to be low as a few ladies had let me know that the first race of the winter league was double booked with many other things – most notably Gemma and Jo Tilby running in the Birmingham marathon. But I was feeling confident on Sunday morning that we had enough for a couple of teams and some strong runners.
There were ten Croft Ladies, three seasoned veterans – Myself, Jo Marriot and Sue Davies (scary to think how many times we have done this), a couple who have done a few before – Kelly and Irina, Emma, who has done some winter league races before but not this one and new to the Herefordshire winter league Katie Jones, Sam Wickham, Victoria Dickinson and Claire Donkin.
A lovely mild October morning greeted us at the beautiful Fforest Field campsite. Fantastic facilities, no queuing for portaloos here! Intense studying of the map meant we had a pretty good idea of the route but were still a little unsure of how much of a climb and how much mud there was going to be. No advantages to the anyone who had done the race before because this is one race where the route is changed every year.
Photos were taken and a brief introduction, thank yous and course brief and we were off. Pretty close to the start we hit the first uphill before the crowd had thinned out and there was a bit of jostling for position. A gradual uphill before going around the pond and into the first proper climb where the path undulated before turning steeply downhill through the woods. A bit of looping back meant we could have seen the runners in front if only we didn’t have to watch our feet so intently to prevent trips over the tree roots.
The interesting thing about this course is the repeated up and downs, meaning there was no room to relax and I found myself quite a few times getting past some runners and then saying hello to them again as they got past me, only to repeat the process a few minutes down the course. This happened to me, with a few runners including Sue and Sam. I was just behind Sam on the steep downhill through the woods and a little bit of a stumble meant she lost a little bit of confidence and I was able to pull ahead of her for a while, just to watch her pull in front of me again once we were back on more level ground.
I am sure similar things were taking place both ahead and behind me, although with all its turns it is not possible to see how other peoples races are going.
Emma ran a fantastic race to take second place and Irina came in fourth, Kelly was seventh lady home to bring home first place for the Croft Ladies A team. The B team was led home by Katie Jones running in fantastic form, followed by myself and Sam, first FV35 – to finish third ladies team behind Wye Valley. Jo was next Croft lady, first FV45, having a bit of a race with Sue, only four seconds behind. Victoria was ahead of ladies who had finished before her in the summer league – goes to show training does pay off and Claire finished her first winter league race with a fast sprint from the gate to the finish line, with a smile on her face!
I am really looking forward to the rest of the winter league races when all those ladies who were busy today will be taking part – I have had 33 ladies say they want to take part so things can only get better and better! Unless a few more ladies for the other clubs turn up I suppose, so best keep up the training ladies!
All Mikes photos from the Fforest Field race can be viewed on the Croft Flickr page