A cooler but gloriously sunny weekend saw some Croft runners competing at the Elan Valley 10 mile road race on Saturday, and a smaller (with the exception of Tim!) number wrecking themselves on the Wrekin the following day. And in good Gunner tradition, Flora ran in both – over three hours of tough running in just over 24 hours.
203 runners completed the Wrekin course (12.9km, 732m of ascent), possibly a record, and certainly the first half mile along a narrow, hazardous, undulating path was tricky to negotiate, but as the climbing started runners thinned out and found their own pace – in my case alternating walking and running! Once up onto the stony main path leading up to the summit, we turned left down to the tricky 45 degree descent into a leaf and stone strewn cwm, where in a bid to grab support Neil let go of his water bottle and had then to climb back up to retrieve it. From the bottom it’s a long steady climb round the back (the south side) of the Wrekin, before the 45 degree climb straight back up to the trig point, a climb that sorts the men from the goats (or should it be the goats from the men?). Then a dash back down the stony track for half a mile or so, and then we plunge back into the woods, zigzagging down leafy narrow paths, before climbing once more back up to almost the bottom of the main stony track, crossing over into the woods on the south side and meandering (sounds a bit leisurely – it wasn’t!) back up to the trig point. Neil overtook me just before the top, and clearly Tim wasn’t too far behind. From there it was a fast-ish run down the western ridge of the hill, along stony paths with the additional hazard of tree roots, and low hanging branches (which as Tim found out were sometimes quite solid). Once down onto the track following the contour, it was theoretically a straight run of about a mile to the finish. The undulations though prove to be quite daunting at this stage of the race, and Tim’s younger (and much longer!) legs took him past me on the penultimate rise. Neil finished 129th (1.31.27), Tim 140th (1.33.20 – over 10 minutes faster than last year), I was 144th (1.33.42) and the gallant Flora 173rd (1.42.02).
Neil on the start of the first descent, the rest of us after the second climb.