It was a lovely sunny morning as I set off for Shobdon, which must have encouraged many to make the decision to enter on the day, leading to a record entry of 170 for our race, which has probably been going now 21 years. At the registration area we were well supported with volunteer helpers, thanks to Theresa’s organisation, and all went very smoothly.
From the back of the pack at the start, things moved slowly as we set off up a slight slope on a forestry track, and then slower still up the first congested climb through the wood, followed by a faster run along the level for near enough a mile before we dropped down down through a beautiful section with trees in fresh green leaf, and a mass of bluebells beneath. Once more on a fire track I caught up with Liza (who had paced me through miles 1-4 at Leinthall Starkes, and again at the parkrun the next Saturday), but she feared her marshalling husband further along the course was getting suspicious so I felt bound to run on ahead (Stuart’s bigger than me!). That was when Emma, running her first race since the birth of young Ivan, glided smoothly past me, and moved further ahead up the next steep incline. It was here I caught Gary (again), and kept ahead till the steep descent over rough loose stone. Predictably, Gary sped past me, gaining a 100m lead by the bottom. Very soon though we were beginning the long climb up to the ridge, and Gary and I changed places again, as I managed to overhaul a number of flagging runners, hoping I’d be able to stay ahead as we wound down through the bluebells along the narrow winding path. That descent was a welcome relief after the exertions of climbing, but runners had little time to admire the bluebells as the root-infested path wound around the trees, finally plunging us down a steep dip and onto the path leading 200m to the finish.
26 Croft runners competed, and despite the absence of some of the better known top runners, the trio of Gareth, Glyn and Will performed admirably to win first team, with the ladies being led home by Emma J, who also won her category. Next came Emma M, surprising herself with the success of her return to competitive running. Jasper was first Junior Man, and dad Ashley 1st V65. Flora was our other category winner, collecting her prize as 1st FV55. Well done to all!
So, a successful day for the runners, and for all those who helped lay on a race through some beautiful Herefordshire woodland.