Croft Castle Dirt Run

Race Reports

Dirt Run Delights

The 5th & final race in Dirt Run’s Winter Warrior series at National Trust properties took place last Sunday at Croft Castle. The race was completely full more than a week in advance, just like their previous race on New Year’s Day so several potential runners were disappointed. The race attracted 175 runners, some travelling from the Birmingham area & further afield,  intermingled with locals.  Malvern & Bournville Harriers were especially well represented. Several first timers rubbed shoulders with seasoned runners.

The course was a superb single lap measured 10k put together by Mark Leyland & his team, completely different to the one to which we are accustomed. Starting outside the castle front door, we ran south along the tarmac, through the arch and past the car park before heading downhill (the one after Heartbreak Hill) to the Fishponds. We then turned right over a bridge by the ruined watermill, meandering between the trees along muddy foot paths to eventually join the forestry road by the old quarry. At the bridge we turned left towards Heartbreak Hill, but immediately went right at a narrow valley track. More forest meanderings brought us to the familiar track leading up to the hill fort, but we branched right just before the stile and ran counterclockwise round the perimeter of the fort to exit at the stile. Down the hill, greeting slower runners going the other way, then right along the forestry road. We then turned left and crossed the Chestnut Avenue field obliquely, then turned sharp right to go around the farm and through the natural playground to approach the finish outside the castle from the north.

Following his excellent debut for Croft at Monkhall, Andy Salt led from the word go & won in 41.39, 2.40 ahead of the 2nd place runner. Jasper came in 6th in 48.55, much improved from his New Year’s Day performance which was hampered by the effects of a snowboarding fall. I was very pleased with coming 13th (51.26) and 1st MV 60. Having won the MV 60 category in each of the previous Winter Warrior races (except the one that clashed with Mortimer Forest) I also won the MV 60 series trophy. There was also a great performance by 15-year-old Sam Roberts (a future Croft runner?) who came 10th in 50.47 in his first-ever 10k race.

As always, the organisation was excellent, with of plenty of marshals from St Richards Hospice (who received a proportion of the entry fee) and markers at each kilometre. The race was preceded by 47 Juniors running a 3K race

Two weeks previously Jasper & I had run at Dirt Run’s New Year’s Day race at Croome Park near Worcester. It’s easy to see why this is such a popular venue. The start & finish were on top of a small hill with superb views over the surrounding countryside, but otherwise the course was flat, crossing fields, winding through woods and running along the riverbank. Much better than queueing at fences and hills at the Morning After.

The weather was cold, wet & windy and the start was delayed by half an hour due to a wandering herd of loose cows. I started very strongly and continued that way throughout, overtaking Jasper at about 1 mile and gradually leaving him behind.

I was delighted to finish 22nd out of 175 in 47.37, also 1st MV 60. Jasper stiffly struggled to finish 50th in 52.52.


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