The third race of the Shropshire winter fell series saw another large field of 278 runners , including Ruth, Matt, Guy, Adam and myself for the 9 miles and 2,600 feet course. Despite a cold start, the race seemed ideal conditions and made you forget all of the recent rain and the effects this would have upon the course.
Starting from Cardington the route took us down a very muddy track towards open fields and a tricky descent towards our first climb up the side of the Lawley. A fast descent followed before making another slow slog on our second climb up the side of Caer Caradoc. At the top my legs were like jelly with the effects on my ankles felt, but in this race competition is fierce and there is no time to hang around as we soon ploughed down the side (slipping on sodden ground) before being greeted by what I have always found to be the toughest part of the race. The slow and endless series of climbs up Helmeth Hill, a technical descent to Gaerstones Farm and a further climb to Gaerstones Hill to follow the Hope Bowdler ridge to Willstone and is as much about mental strength as it is of the effects of the previous two climbs. I managed to dig deep in this section to gain at least 10 places and for once was actually enjoying being competitive again and even managed an enduring sprint finish to settle old scores.
James Baird from Halesowen AC completed the course in 1:15:44 and reflected the conditions of the slippery course with slower times recorded than the previous year. I was happy to finish 50th in 1:33:08 and gained a spot prize to celebrate 25 years of the event. Matt Moffatt who seems to be getting into the fell scene finished strong in 94 th, 1:40:49 and followed closely by Ruth Stafford, 106th in a time of 1:43:18 and second LV35. Guy came next in 164th, 1:52:02 followed by Adam 198th in 1:56:17.