Conditions this year were pleasanter for running, certainly much cooler than last year, but so dry footpaths were dusty and slippery with loose stones. Gary and I were the only Croft runners to make it to this fell race, more or less at the northern extreme of the Shropshire fell territory. Reflecting on the fact that the two of us are rather like chalk (me, ex teacher ) and cheese (Gary?), with Gary preferring the downhill, and me the up, I was reminded of a nursery rhyme (not Jack and Jill, though Jack [Agnew] came down and won the crown, while Jill (Gill Evans) came tumbling after) (and not The Grand Old Duke of York – though the idea of running up a hill then down again could appear to some as equally nonsensical). No, I had Jack Sprat and his wife in mind:
Gary G doesn’t like the climb
And Guy doesn’t like descent
So if you mixed the two of them
((Maybe they’d be more potent* (not suggesting either of us is impotent)
(*room for improvement with this rhyme!))
They’d be stronger (like cement?)
Anyway, we set off round the playing field, along a lane (Gary’s territory), up steeply into the woods (me), through a kissing gate at the top and down (Gary) again to the foot of the steep climb up to the summit of Pontesbury Hill (me). As you look up you see a marshal at the ‘top’, only to discover there’s then a diagonal path up to another marshal, who then points you up to the summit, some 400m further on. But from there it’s a fast run down to the woods (Gary), through the gate and helter skelter down the narrow, rocky path (Gary), picking your way over tree roots (me), with a final 600m run in on the more or less flat. Not getting anywhere near the winner’s 20.51, I finished 76th (out of 114) in 30.47, 30 seconds or so faster than last year, with Gary unable to close the gap on the downhill, 82nd in 31.22, nearly a minute faster than 2017, obviously not suffering too much from the handicap race the night before or the Man v Horse marathon. There were a record 4 MV70s running, but J Sprat and his wife came out on top.