Last year’s race was postponed because of snow, so this was the second running of this race in 2018, and it was squeezed in between two very wet days, as Gary G and Flora discovered doing the Skirrid race the day before in driving rain and poor visibility.
However, Sunday (morning) was at least dry, with a touch of frost beginning to melt, but we knew we were in for some mud. We set off from in front of Moor Park school, up the drive and across the first field (where moles had thrown up fresh molehills since my warm up – they won’t have liked the 600 odd feet thundering over them) and once over the road there was immediately a hold-up as we struggled to get up the bank and more queueing as we started on the single file track through the bracken. I cut off on a side path doing a detour to bypass the queue and gained a few places. Mike was stationed near the top of the slope in the oak wood, where we were endeavouring to get our breathing going. Despite this, some managed a smile for the camera. Then a steep descent, where I got past a few more timid runners before they overhauled me on the forestry track at the bottom. We were spared the two stream crossings this year, since fallen trees made the second crossing hazardous, so we were very soon onto Poison Bank, where again I was able to gain a number of places by going up through the trees to the left of the slippery, congested path. Thereafter there were tree roots, mud and twisty paths before we came down onto the pipe track – a long, largely flat trek (suiting the younger, faster runners) leading to the three switchbacks which were surprisingly mud free, despite all the runners that had gone before. At the top of the last climb, we transfer to a tarmac section. This is little relief, because it’s still deceptively steep, and the climb continues as a forestry track, still rising till we are looking down on Monstay Farm, and then zig-zag down to the Wigmore-Ludlow road and the drinks station. Only 2 more miles to go! Down Sunny Gutter, and then a left turn into the trees and a winding, muddy, undulating path sapping what little energy remained in our legs. This time there’s no avoiding the stream – one foot in the middle and out the other side, followed by 500m of firm path, a fast muddy descent to the stream, and then back up into the oak wood and a fast (-ish) run down to the finish, trying to reach the single file path without being overtaken.
Andy (4th) had yet another good run, despite earlier health concerns and found Jonny Pugh faster and fitter than on their previous outing over the course. Graham Leek, maybe a newcomer to the race, but certainly his first outing here ‘in a (purple) Croft vest’, had an excellent race in 12th (68.04), only a short way in front of another Croft newcomer, Jack Wilson (15th, 69.26). All three great recent additions to Croft!
Jasper was first under 20 male runner (77.28), just ahead of Kelly (78.30) our first Croft lady. Ashley (82.55) was 1st MV65. In all, 25 Croft runners competed in this, the last club championship race of the year, where 359 competitors completed this demanding, but popular race.
4 Salt Andrew SM 3 64.02
12 Leek Gareth SM 8 68.04
15 Wilson Jack SM 11 69.26
40 Williams Glyn MV45 9 74.06
53 Moffatt Matt MV40 6 76.38
61 Robinson Jasper MU20 1 77.28
69 Bowen Kelly SF 5 78.30
88 Robinson Ashley MV65 1 82.55
108 Taylor Neil MV60 5 84.24
140 Woodfield Roxy SF 15 88.43
150 Reynolds Louise FV50 3 90.39
151 Jones Tim MV50 14 91.03
152 Powell Michael MV45 25 91.05
158 Whitmarsh Guy MV70 2 91.50
171 Belcher Katie SF 19 93.29
194 Gunner Flora FV55 3 97.15
197 Gunner Gary MV70 3 97.37
215 Williams Mark MV50 24 99.09
218 Katie Jones SF 24 99:38
219 Wickham Samantha SF 25 99.39
230 Wilding Lucy SF 26 101.10
231 Wood Robert MV60 14 101.11
275 King Stephanie FV50 10 108.56
292 Dickinson Victoria FV50 13 114.05
295 Gray Lisa FV45 14 114.59