The cold frosts we were getting used to in the beginning of the week held off and this first Sunday in December saw near perfect running conditions for the third of the 2017 Herefordshire winter league races.
The race route as distributed by Wye Valley in the weeks before the race proved not to be the route actually taken. It started on a farm track with a few muddy puddles which most people decided to run around, but by running through them I think I managed to gain about twenty places having started fairly near the back of the pack. Pretty quickly there was a left hand turn into a field, following field margins at a gradual uphill for a mile or so then levelling off a bit before turning right to a nice downhill stretch. I thought was going to lead us to the usual spot for the muddy gateway water crossing but surprisingly we took a left hand turn out of the field to jump a ditch and a bit of a climb up the opposite bank. Next, another field to run around, leading to a style where there was a bit of a chance to catch our breath before running through the muddy stretch of wood – again not so bad as previous years, thanks to the good weather. Final push up the steep hill past the finishing point to run down the farm track back to the field to take the second lap.
It was a fast-paced course, the hills not too steep and the mud not too deep. The hardest part was the uphill climb to the finish line which as the photos show, took a lot of effort to keep positions hard fought for throughout the race.
Numbers are usually a little lower for the Wye Valley hosted leg of the league and this was true this year, despite the race taking place before Christmas rather than the traditional January position it usually holds.
The lower numbers may have helped Croft but not as much as the cracking runners we have this season. We had winners in both the mens and the ladies races with Andy taking first place for the men and Gemma first place for the ladies. Irina and Kelly finished the Croft A team in fourth and seventh places. Robyn was in 9th place and did a great job of keeping ahead of the Wye Valley girls to lead the B team of myself and George who was running in her first race for Croft to take third team place. Nicky Turvey took the lead with Jo T and Jo M to take the Croft C team to take fifth place. Great running by all the Croft ladies, especially the two Jo’s who gave it everything up that final hill.
Croft men were a bit down on numbers today. The first team led by Andy were Mark T in 8th, Simon in 18th and Glyn in 28.
It was good to see Ian back again and he headed the B team with Ashley, Will and Neil. Rob, Gary, Tom and Brian made up the C team.
Well done Croft. Next up Rotherwas, a completely different race but one I am sure we can do just as well in.