Wednesday evening marked the third race in the summer league series, hosted by Wye Valley Runners at Queenswood. There was a new course in place that meant that not many of us knew exactly what to expect, apart from the fact that we knew that the dreaded gully hill from the winter X/C was going to test us all over again. It was another warm evening, especially when the majority of the race was in the woods with not much air getting through. It was a very narrow start, so securing your place in the starting pack was more important than ever. The course was a tough one, but not too bad as the hills had been spread out nicely and matched with some rewarding downhills for the work we put in going up. With the course being two laps it also gave runners the opportunity to know what they were going to be faced with in the second half of the race, and could plan where to push on and where to reserve energy for. Overall though a challenging but rewarding course which I hope stays in place for next year’s series to test us all over again.
We had another impressive turnout of Croft runners. 42 in total took part and kept up our impressive attendance in the Summer League series. We went into this race with a 51-point lead and looking to extend this further. Our first runner home was Gareth Leek, who keeps up his impressive performances in his debut season as a Croft runner (7th – 45.21). Somehow, I was the next runner home just one place behind Gareth (8th – 45.52). A result I am still not sure how I managed. Jordan Mcqueen, who is competing in Ironman Wales in September, is showing that the training that he’s putting in is paying off seeing him achieve 17th place on the night in a time of 48.28. Katie Ayres was first lady home, Katie had said to me before the race that she was nervous but didn’t seem to show this in her performance. Backing up the performance she had put in at High Vinnals coming home in 31st place in a time of 51.19. Gemma Mallet was third lady home keeping up her reliable performances in both the Summer and Winter league races in a time of 52.41 and made up our A team. Who were comfortably first on the night and have given us a greater lead going into the last race.
Everyone performed brilliantly on the night and we had some more impressive results. Simon Norwood, after completing the long course weekend a few days before still managed a top 20 finish coming home in 19th in a time of 48.46. Glyn, Neil and Nigel kept their brilliantly grouping going near the top of the leader board in 29th, 30th and 33rd. Another newish member to the club is Grant Womack who had recently been injured ran well and came home in the top 50. He was 48th overall in a time of 53.29. Kelly Bowen continues her return to form coming 71st overall and 3rd Croft lady home on the night. Stuart Austin, who before the race had one goal in mind. To beat his arch enemy, who Stuart says always beats him, Steve Herington. Fortunately, he did this comfortably coming home in 76th overall. And this was not Stuart’s only bragging rights for the night. He also beat his son Oscar, and I’m sure he won’t let him forget that soon enough. Robyn and Sue, who ran some of the race together finished in 98th and 99th, showing that having teammates around you can push you onto the finish.
Sam Harper continues to keep running well and finished in a very good and respectable time of 1.06.13 and in 139th place. And along with Roland and Naomi provided Croft with a very good grouping. Nick Paviour also ran well showing that his efforts at our tough training sessions are paying off, he came 176th overall in a time of 1.17. Gemma and Theresa were 191st and 192nd and again showing that all the hard work they have been putting in on Tuesdays and Thursdays helps out in the races and I can definitely see them improving even further. Unfortunately, on the night we had two runners drop out as they were unable to continue. Mark Lamonby rolled his ankle and I think the hills got the better of Scott Jones on the night. I hope as we all do that the pair of them are back fit for the next race.
With all our Croft runners it meant that again we had teams down to letter ‘H’. An impressive achievement and something I hope we carry on into winter league. With one race left to run, we go into it with a 96 point lead at the top. An incredible performance on the night and throughout the series so far. One last push Crofties!!