Croft Woods handicap race – 16 July 2019

Race Reports
On the day that the world was celebrating the 50th anniversary of the lift off of Apollo 11 on its way to the moon, a big group of Croft runners launched themselves into the 4th race in the summer’s handicap series. On a sticky evening the runners tried to conker the slightly aldernative root featuring 2 extra wooden rustic gates. Treeza was fir-st away and attempted to leaf everyone else behind in her quest for victree. Oakay, enough of these lumbering (a)corny wood puns, I hear yew saying – you didn’t log in for this feeble nonsense.
Theresa Jones was running scared every step of the way, not in fear of being savaged by the fierce bears and wolves that lurk menacingly in the woods, but terrified of being hunted down by her advancing clubmates. With her ears sharply pricked for the sound of rapidly approaching heavy footsteps and even heavier breathing she charged up Heartbreak Hill like never before, driven on by the tantalising thought of the chocolate bar prize that awaited her, and collapsed at the end of the finishing funnel with an exhausted cry of “timber” and a huge P.B. to her name. Her worries were unfounded as she was over a minute clear of the next finisher. This was newcomer David Blenkharn, making his debut on the course and it is good to welcome another “Blenk” to the Croft ranks, particularly one who can run. Steph King, who lives nearby, completed the top 3 running over terrain where she trains regularly, and she had to bow to Theresa who was Queen on the night.
There were lots of runners making their debuts (6 in total) on this woodland course, but fewer P.B.s than I expected. This was probably down to the humid conditions and the slowing effect of the number of gates encountered on the course. Oscar Austin sliced an enormous 5 minutes off his previous best time, which was recorded by a much younger version of himself some years ago. Not to be outdone, his mother Liza also proved that she is in top form with a P.B. of her own. The improving Lucy Wilding knocked nearly a minute off last season’s best. Imee Marriott was just 6 seconds shy of her best time but, having moved up a category, she shattered the Junior Woman’s course record by over 6 minutes to add to her under 17 course record. Hannah Fletcher, also making her course debut, entered the fastest times list at no. 8 and also set a FV35 record. Roxy Woodfield, another debutant, also entered the top rankings at no. 10. Yet another making her first appearance, Emma Jones now features in 17th place in the female rankings.
Another P.B. that I failed to recognise on the night, due to the fact that he was 38 seconds late turning up for his scheduled start time, came from Scott Jones whose time of 22.42 sliced 9 seconds off last year’s time, but this was frustratingly just one second slower than the under 17 course record set by Will Hayward back in 2014 – the first year that this new course was used.
The performance of the night, as adjudicated by Madam Chairman, came from Guy Whitmarsh. It may not rank with his winning of the age-group gold medal at the recent European Mountain Running the Czech Republic, but he is now the MV75 course record holder after knocking over 5 minutes off Bryan Markham’s best set 4 years ago. Bryan may have relinquished his title, but he remains the oldest runner to complete the course and he will be looking forward to setting a MV80 record in this equivalent run next year.
The penultimate race in the series will be held on Wednesday 13th August.

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