What does the 1st of December mean, the start of the festive period, the day you can open the first window on your advent calendar. For many, it meant running around the cold and extremely muddy setting of Queenswood. With a slightly changed course to last winter, a relief to many runners as it meant we only had to struggle up the gully hill once. In place of the second hill was a much more pleasant, flat(ish) sprint to the finish line, depending on whether you had anything left in the tank. Similar to previous years there was plenty of mud, which made it tough to find any sort of rhythm. The downhills, similar to croft meant staying on your feet was a challenge and ended up with a few runners on the floor. Also as mentioned previously, the gully hill was as tough as ever and left you breathing heavily and your legs burning. All of this added together gave us a gruelling course that left everyone coming over the line relieved it was over. Everything a good X/C course needs.
18 Croft men took on the Queenswood course, slightly thin on the ground for this race, however, we battled hard to stay in contention for that overall third place finish in the series. Leeky carried on his impressive form from the last race finishing 3rd, and has really cemented his place as one of our strongest runners at the club, well done Leeky, keep it up! I finished 23rd overall, followed closely by Simon Norwood in 30th who is really getting back into the X/C running. Then came Grant Womack, who finished just one place behind Simon and meant that it was his first appearance in the A team, a brilliant result for him and showing that his consistency with Croft intervals on a Tuesday is paying off on race day. We still had plenty of other good performances in the race as well. Eric continues to grow into the X/C running, finishing in 55th position, and as he takes on each race he seems to improve which is really great to see. He was followed closely by Mark Paviour, who even with his coaching commitments is gaining form. Mark is someone who definitely goes under the radar and we are all so grateful for all that he does for the coaching setup at Croft and to still be able to finish where he does just shows what a fantastic runner he is. Steve Partridge also put in a good performance on his debut in the X/C series and based on his speed on the hills in the summer at Croft, there is plenty more to come from him. John Japsers also had a very strong performance around the Queenswood course, I don’t think I have seen someone smile as much as John before and after a race which goes to show how much passion he has for the sport and is a brilliant addition to the Croft ranks. It wouldn’t be a good Croft men’s report without mentioning Stuart Austin, and his fierce rivalry with his nemesis. Fortunately for Stuart, all the bragging rights are with him, finishing 2 minutes quicker and 9 places in front. Which means he’s now got to find someone else further up the pack to chase.
Thank you to all those who ran and put in a fantastic effort, we sit in 4th overall and 5 points behind Wye Valley with 2 races to go. We are still in for that 3rd place, with a good showing in the last 2 races we can definitely push for the prize. Onto Rotherwas, UP THE CROFT!!