What a fabulous day and what a team event!
This tough 22-mile race is now very popular after featuring on television in recent years. This meant that it was very tough to get onto this year as the entries were only open for a very short period of time before it was sold out. People are now travelling from very far afield to take part in the race, there were runners from Denmark, the USA and Australia being interviewed at the end of the race this year. The popularity of the race is sure to increase again as there were a couple of celebrities running – Sophie Raworth from the BBC news and Ewan Thomas of 400m Olympic fame (who featured in the previous television program) with accompanying film crews. I am sure this and the fabulous route conditions this year will put this race on the racing calendars of even more runners.
There were 3 Croft teams and 3 Croft individuals running this year’s Man v Horse in Llanwrtyd Wells. The recent relatively dry spell meant there was not so many boggy stretches and there was just the occasional patch of mud. There was a bit of sun during the run but a good cloud cover meaning it did not get too hot until later on in the day.
I was the first leg runner in my relay team – named the Weobly Wanders by Carol P. – along with Scott H for team Croft Ambrey Crew and Dave G for team Croft Ambrey. Gary P, Matt Moffatt and Gary G were also at the start line, although with 650 individuals and 150 teams it was hard to see each other.
With so many runners at the start you do get a little boxed in but I was there for the fun of it rather than a PB so decided to just go with the flow and as it is an uphill climb for the first mile and a half, I decided just to see that as the warm-up before really getting going. It is a steady climb and it was a bit of a surprise to see so many runners walking so soon into a race, but then if you are running the whole 22 miles, I guess it is best to take it steady.
I came across my first horses at approximately mile 4 into the race, along one of the forest tracks. You can hear them for a while coming up behind you and all the runners gave a good shout for a warning and passed the runners with a friendly greeting.
By mile 5 I was really beginning to enjoy myself, definitely my favourite sort of race. There was a bit of road, lots along forest tracks and paths and a bit over the Welsh hills with some fantastic views. I was almost talking myself into thinking maybe next year I could give the whole distance a bash. Having said that I was pretty pleased to pass the corner in the woods at seven and a half miles to see Liza ready to take on the baton to take on the second leg, Will and Kelly having already taken off for the other teams.
It was lovely to sit and chat with Dave and Scott waiting for the bus to take us back to the finish point watching the other runners pass. The horses were turned off before our crossover point but was one loose horse came rushing down the hill, with his rider following about five minutes behind having been thrown off. Someone did manage to catch the horse somewhere down the route and brought him back to meet the rider, who looking no worse for his fall, lead him back up and continued the race.
Our bus managed to get us back to the finish line just in time to hear it being announced, but unfortunately not see, the finish where a horse just managed to beat the first runner home with just 23 seconds lead. It must have been gutting for Joe Park the winning runner in 2.35.06. The winning relay team – the Royal Marines – did beat the horse but you have to run the whole thing to qualify to win the £1500 up for grabs to beat the horse.
Dave A was the first Croft Runner home for team Croft Ambrey in 3.18.00, seventh mixed team. Followed by Matt Moffat in 3.33.42 – which I heard the next day is a PB for him by 40 minutes, so well done Matt, fantastic achievement. Robyn for The Croft Ambrey Crew was very close behind in 3.34.57, soon to be followed by Gary Pearson in 3.36.13. Carol was the final leg runner for our team, finishing in 3.41.36 and Gary Gunner completing the Croft runners in 4.54.12.
Unfortunately, the results are not sortable so it makes it very difficult to compare how we all did in each category, but for once I think it doesn’t matter. We all had a fabulous day, got a medal, had some lovely refreshments and had a good day out.
It would be great if we could have just as many or more Croft runners next year, we will just all need to all be in front of a computer at 10am on Saturday January 5th, 2019 to get our entries in for next year!
The relay team runners with our medals at the end of the race.