Not only did 177 (plus guest runners) compete on this momentous day (30th anniversary of the running of the event) but the sun was also competing with the fog, but unlike the two races, where both winners finished well clear of the field, the duel between sun and fog finished with honours probably going to the fog.
Brian D arrived in good time for the planting ceremony, and one hopes the photos taken were not of his backside as he worked inside the protective fencing round the new oak. After the usual minute’s silence we were given the off, and congestion was greater than usual around the rim of the pond. Thereafter it was the usual slog, with sticky, energy-sapping patches of mud in the first gateway, at the foot of the steep descent onto the woodland track and then again down in fishpool valley on the first sharp bend. In the ladies’ race, Heulwen Gilbert (still a junior) of Ludlow ran well clear of the field, with her twin sister 6 places further back. Gemma also had a great race, finishing 4th, in the mud, in 36.26 just ahead of Liz, running in her first Herefordshire cross country race. She was 1st Fv60 in 37.31. Nicky (8th) ran her usual gritty race, in 38.29 just 20 seconds ahead of Ria, who was three places back (a good result considering her footwear!).Then came the consistent Jo, 12th (39.12) and the ever improving Sam (39.43) in 18th (7 runners coming in in the space of 30 seconds); it was good to see Steph back, a very creditable 23rd out of 66 runners.
A record 22 men ran for Croft, though Peter Hamilton (a rare and shy species!) only counted as a guest. Tim Davies of Maldwyn, was first home, in 46.40 (which I believe is just outside Mick’s record), with Simon fighting hard against tough opposition to finish 8th (52.29), with Stacey (53.27) and Sam (53.29) battling it out for 11th and 12th. Dave G (17th, 54.29) (another record – the only Dave running for Croft!) managed to stay in front of the rapidly recovering Mark (18th, 54.36). Neil P, Greg and Glyn completed the B team, just ahead of Pat (37th, 57.34). Nigel is proving to be a very useful addition to our ranks, 42nd in just under the hour. Mick, Ashley C and Martin followed in just over the hour, then Paul G, ahead of the newly rejoined Ian P, 2nd MV65, in 64.45. Neil T had a good race, leaving me well behind on lap 3; Tom comfortably beat brother Brian, who was some way ahead of another newly returned Croft runner, Peter Faulkner. 110 men completed the three lap course.
More or less as Mike called for a minute’s silence, the tea urn also came to a halt and only fired up again after an hour’s interval. Apologies to all who were hoping for a hot drink at the end, but I’m sure the supply of cakes that members so kindly produced made up for the disappointment.