Everybody remarked on the chilliness, but it was a largely sunny morning with typical October temperatures; it was just we’ve been spoilt for the last 5 weeks. A relatively small field of 86 runners turned up for this the first of the Shropshire winter fell series. From the start we laboured up a forest track for about a mile, then into a surprisingly damp field (with the occasional mushroom) and then up to the first summit, followed by a succession of climbs and descents until we got to the tricky, rocky descent where probably only Gary dared to ‘run’ down. This was followed after another summit in an oakwood, by a steep slither on dead leaves and wet leaf mold, where more than one came unstuck. A bit of road then more climbing and woodland paths before we spied the last hill, Rodney’s Pillar, ahead. From there we ran mostly downhill, eventually onto the forest track that took us down to the finish, 11km after the start and some 690m of climb. I was forever expecting Gary to go hurtling past me on the final descent, as last time, but in fact I finished 59th (1.21.38) a couple of minutes and 7 places ahead of Gary (1.23.39). Tom, the third of the Croft musketeers, was 78th (1.31.14), and Croft once again provided the 3 of the 4 oldest runners, being rewarded with 1st MV65 and 1st MV70. At the other end of the spectrum, the race was won by Tim Davies in 56.11.
6 Croft runners competed, on a cool day that turned, as forecast, into a brilliantly sunny day. This 7 mile fell race has a long uphill to start with, then off the forest track onto grass before the first steep ascent. Conditions underfoot were almost always good, though some of the descents were steep and the loose stones and leaves gave virtually no grip. With a mile or so to go, we were sent up to Rodney’s Pillar, and then a long, relatively easy descent down to the finish, after 2,300 feet of climbing, and it felt like it! Tom ran his first fell race since his heart problems and managed an amazing 1hr 28m 16s, only 5 minutes slower than last year. Nicky even ran 3 seconds faster, again, despite her injury problems, an amazing feat and she was also 1st F50. Simon continues his fine form, finishing 13th (out of 117), and 3rd M40. Matt, running in his first race with a Croft vest, crossed the line in 1hr 15m 14s, ungallantly overtaking Guy with a yard to go! Guy was 1st M65, with Gary coming in shortly after in 1hr 16m 18s, 1st M60. So Croft had a good haul of wine!
Don’t do it, Tom! Not without a hang-glider, at least! (Thanks to Alastair Tye for the photo) For more, click on the link: www.fellrunningpictures.co.uk