Sunday marked the final race in the Herefordshire Winter League X/C series. The beauty of Nash Wood set the scene for what was going to be an exciting race. A course that has been in place for many years now brings up the same problems for each runner to navigate around. The course starts in the car park, where we then ascend to the top of the metal track. A real leg burner to kick off. As runners reach the entrance to go further into the wood, climbing continues, however going is a lot harder under foot as that section of the wood had been restricted to sunlight meaning it couldn’t dry out and was still boggy. Once at the top, runners can take a breath and regain their running form due to the gradient levelling out. There is then another climb, which is the best section for runners to pick whether they are going to push on or not, push too hard and you are at risk of not having enough left in the tank for the rest of the race, don’t push hard enough, and on the muddy single file track you are at risk of your time increasingly rising. Our next challenge came in the form of a long uphill section, using every bit of effort to push to get to the top of a killer hill which not many (if any) ran the entirety. Ensuring though that you can still recover to push into the final stage of the race. This took us back onto the metal track for the last 1.5 miles, mixed in with this was a few more muddy sections which proved a real test, as already fatigued runners have to maintain concentration to pick the correct line through the mud without losing any speed. The final push is back down the track to the finish in the car park, again, where timing your sprint for the finish can be vital in gaining the best position possible. Overall, one of the best X/C courses that we have the chance to run in the series and one I hope is in place for years to come.
Again, another fantastic turnout from the Croft men’s team. 25 runners took on the tough Presteigne course. As this is the last race in the series, those who have placed in the top 3 in their age category received their medals. Our first runner home was again Leeky, who has performed exceptionally in this series and has assisted the team with his consistent low scores. He came home in 4th place and bagged himself second senior male for the series. A result that in his first winter league is very impressive. Mark was next home, just one place behind Leeky in 5th, Mark is another runner who runs all of the X/C races and ensures the team have a fighting chance of gaining some silverware. Mark also bagged himself a medal, finishing 3rd senior male in the series. I was next home in 19th. The final member of the ‘A’ team was Glyn in 34th place, who has had a very consistent series and can now push on into the summer league.
We had lots of other male runners who also picked up medals. Nigel Taylor, came home in 39th place after digging in throughout the race and picked up the bronze medal in the vet 50 category, showing how his efforts at training pay off as he now moves into marathon training. Mark Paviour achieved the silver medal in the vet 55 category and even with all the coaching commitments he has, he continues to improve all the time.
I think I mentioned this man in my Croft report about how hard he trains and his ongoing commitment to running, so I was absolutely over the moon when Rob received a bronze medal in the vet 60 category, which even led his wife to tears and the whole club was so happy for Rob and I can’t wait to see how he continues to improve. Ashley is someone who remains very consistent and especially when it comes to picking up medals in his age category, picking up a gold medal. There must be a winning trait in the Robinson household as Jasper also picked up a medal in his junior male category. At such a young age Jasper can only continue to improve and bagged himself a silver medal. When we got to the vet 70 category we again had two prize winners, Ian Price picking up the gold and definitely goes under the radar in his consistent performances over the series and Tom Davies, who out of all of the league races has only missed 5, unbelievable when you consider the league has been established for 35 years, Tom achieved the silver medal. Our final medal winner was Bryan, a runner who does everything with a smile on his face and I think it is a brilliant achievement to continue running like he does and I will be very happy if I am still running when I get to his age.
The best prize of the day was that we had done enough to get third male team in the league, a prize that we retained from last year and I was very happy that we were able to get the points back on Wye Valley, something I wasn’t sure was possible at the start of the day. This is a fantastic achievement In a very competitive league and one that we can look to improve on in the coming years.
I apologise if I have missed anyone, I try and give everyone a mention in one of my reports for the series, so if I have missed you, I apologise and I will ensure you are in any future reports.
I would just like to thank every single runner who has participated in the series. Not everyone may count in the ‘A’ team, but every place that you make up could be crucial in winning silverware or not. Im proud to be captain of such a talented group of people and I hope we can continue all of this form into the summer league and win just as many medals again and most importantly, try and retain our title.
Well Done fellas, UP THE CROFT!