Sunday 11th October saw the first round of the Shropshire Hills Winter Series, the Breidden Hills race is a tough 11km which includes three sizeable climbs on hill and forest tracks with just a small amount of road. GaryG and TomD were the only Croft representatives but were joined on the trip by Jo Sharp of Ludlow Runners, Jo making a comeback to fell running after a long layoff.
Conditions were good overhead and underfoot for the large field of 158 runners but this did not help Gary and Tom who are both convinced that plate tectonics are at work causing the hills to become longer and steeper with each passing year! However they both persevered, Gary finishing 113th, 1st mv65 in 1.24.07, Tom 138th, 3rd mv65 in 1.29.16.
The race was won by former British Champion and occasional Cross Country league runner Tim Davies in 54.03, Katie Beecher was first lady in 1.02.57.
The next round of the Championship is the Wrekin Wrecker(12.9km) on 15th November, followed by the Cardington Cracker(14.5km) 6th December, Corndon Classic(9.3km) 20th December, Long Mynd Valleys(18.5km) 7th February, Carding Mill Canter(7.8km) 12th March and Wrekin Fell Race(8.8km) on 20th March. This year there appear to be no clashes with the Herefordshire Winter League and the Croft elite would be ideally suited to the testing courses. The races make the Winter Cross Country courses seem less daunting and help give that elusive strength and fitness required for good performances next summer!