Simon, Ben and myself made our way to Malvern to take part in the Worcester Beacons race. It was the first time doing this race for all 3 of us even though it’s been around for 60 years. As we were warming up and getting ourselves prepared for whatever Malvern has ready to throw at us, we see a couple of other Croft Ambrey members heading for the start line, including the young and promising Andrew Davies! Great to see him there and hoping to see him again over the winter series in the hope Croft men can bring the title home for the first time EVER. No pressure lads!
The race starts, and it’s a very tight 400-600 metres so a lot of keen runners have a fast start to try and get to the front for a decent position. The hills kick in straight off the bat. So the keen fast runners, soon start to get into their own rhythms and drop off the fast set pace. By the time the first couple of miles are up, I found myself level with Eliot Taylor and we were hot on the heels of the front man. My race plan was to stick with Eliot for as long as possible and see how it went. The race was sharp and bendy in places and I could see Simon and Andrew weren’t far behind and I’m already thinking we have a chance at the team prize if the boys keep it up. The real test began at the bottom of the first steep hill. I was feeling quite comfortable with the pace being set and was feeling strong, ready for the hills! Half way up, Eliot dropped off which was a surprise. That race plan is now scrapped and a new one was being set. I pushed (probably hard than I should have) to catch the leader up the hill, again so I could run with him. But as I caught him I didn’t want to slow down so kept the pace going until the hill gave us a break! I had a slight lead and had a quick peek to see a group of runners about 30 seconds behind. At this point I’m surprised how the race is going and half expecting Mr. Norwood to soon be hot on my heels. I had the lead for a short while, battling with a runner, who doesn’t even have a club! He beat me to the peak of the beacons but within 200 metres of the downhill I was already back in the lead. I’m feeling tired at this point and I was just hoping it was all downhill at this point for any chance of holding onto the lead. Another hill within a mile and that was it, he had passed me. I knew at this point this runner wasn’t going to give up. And he stepped it up a gear, as the minutes went on his lead was growing. I had another quick look with about 1.5-2 miles to go. Could see about 6 runners and 1 was Simon! Going strong! And last year’s winner is giving it all guns blazing behind me. He over took me at a great place to be fair to him, just as it started to get tight and back to the sharp and tight corners. Impossible to get passed him. Then we hit the last 600 metres and he was off like a rocket. A man on a mission. I looked over my shoulder and knew 3rd was in the bag without having to do anything stupid like a sprint finish! Crossed the line, I knew I did a race, but still feeling strong. A great confidence boost ready for next week and I’m on the finish line waiting to see the rest of team Croft to come in. Simon did a great race coming in at top 10 and was the first veteran in. Top effort, and will be missed next week for sure. Andrew was next in and new it was going to be close for the team prize, this time round we missed out on a couple of points. Ben has been training brilliantly the past 4-6 weeks. He’s improved on his diet and is out training numerous times a week. Unfortunately for him, his work have a busy October and struggled to get any training in this week leading up to the race as well as sleeping and eating well. But he still came in under the hour mark and has already put it in his race diary for next year. Would highly recommend it to any Croft member, great warm up race for the winter series.
Will see you all at training Tuesday, and hope to see everyone next Sunday at Fforest fields. Let’s get off to a flyer and remember, every position counts!
Mark Lamonby 3rd, (47.41), Simon Norwood, 9th (49.40), Andrew Davies 36th (55.02), Liz Bowers 2nd FV55 (1.05.17) and Bryan Davies 2nd MV70 (1.08.40).