A warm summer evening, when the forecast rain unfortunately didn’t materialise, saw over 140 runners assemble for the start of race 2 in the series (again, not all crossed the finishing line, having missed a turning on the lower loop). The uphill start, on long grass, is demanding, so that by the time we’d reached the high point the downhill was at first a welcome relief, until by the end of the circuit of the top orchard I for one was realising that maybe I was overdoing it. The bottom orchard then goes on and on, each turn leading us further away from the exit, which we knew all too well would mean a steady climb back up to the top orchard. I could see Mark P, Sam and Gary G not too far in front, and by the time we’d reached the climb up between the parked cars I was running with Sam. We were neck and neck into the top orchard till the climb when she pulled ahead (by dint of running(!), as opposed to my walking the last bit), I caught her on the down through the trees, only to be overtaken on the track up to the high point, with Gary 100m ahead, obviously struggling a bit too. Once on the grassy path we ran more or less stride for stride, agreeing she would finish in front of me (not so much chivalrous, as realistic!) to gain the extra team point (my maths letting me down, since Sam would end up in the D team, and me in the C team). Fortunately there was no sprint required up the short slope to the finish line.
A record (?) 25 Croft runners turned out, 17 men and 8 women, well spread over 4 teams (of 6). Gemma again showed her mettle, 90 seconds ahead of the second placed female, in 20th, just behind Greg (19th, 37.15) who on this occasion was beaten by his older rival, Nigel, 1st MV50 and 17th overall in 37.15. The race was won by Tim Iveson, but Mark L had a fine race for Croft, finishing 7th (34.47), with Sam M just behind (10th, 35.29). Steph in 56th (43.32), having a great battling run, completed the ‘A’ team, who maintained their 2nd place. The men of the ‘B’ team were thin on the ground, but led home by Dave G (21st, 37.33) (good to see him in league races again), followed by a sound run from Kevin (33rd, 39.57). Ian was 59th (43.44), and 2nd MV65, thanks to the return of Steve Herington. Sue D was 1st FV50 in 64th, just ahead of Kelly, who again showed her strength and determination. Gary G, 1st MV70, completed the ‘B’ team, who sit in 7th place. The ‘C’ team were 15th on the night, 12th overall, and our ‘D’ team completed the listing in 18th. There were good runs from Carol and Liza, and Nick and Sarah were possibly pleased (?) to have successfully completed their first league race for the club. The next race, in two weeks, starts from the Monstay forestry car park, 2 miles from Ludlow on the road to Wigmore. It looks like being the hilliest of the lot.