Report from Eric.
Tuesday 28th December saw the annual Hereford couriers Christmas 10km take place on a hilly course on the back roads around Hereford starting and finishing at the rugby club – a new start and finish for the popular post Christmas race.
My morning started early as it’s a hour or so drive to Hereford, so starting off at around 8 in the pouring rain that didn’t look like clearing until we got to Hereford and parked up. After picking up numbers and having a my pre race fuel I spent 30 minutes or so talking to other runners and club friend’s before taking off the base layers and going for a mile warm up looking out for anything that could be a problem on the start and finish before returning to the start for a club photo before getting to the front of the start line.
As the race started there was jousting from the off and I quickly found myself going backwards as the pack made its way to the main road where I started to pick up places over the quick starter’s and eventually made my way in to the chasing pack of 4 about 20 meters off the 2 leaders. From this point on I settled into a stride with the pack as we made our way to the cross over point of the race where I got a few supportive shouts of ‘well done croft’ and ‘you’re doing well Eric’ but I didn’t see who it was. As we click past 3 km I had a quick look at the watch to see it was 10.25 minutes around a 35 minute10km which I was happy with and still in the group, so kept the pace comfortable. As we approached 4km with the first incline, I saw a chance to break away so put in a surge at the bottom, went to the lead of the pack but by halfway up I was back in the middle so I thought no point in doing that until later in the race, so sat in and watched 1st and 2nd disappear from view. As we went past the 5km mark my watch read 17.28 bang on sub 35 if I could maintain the pace.
6km approached quickly and the next little incline with it. I had dropped from the pack and was about 50 meters back by the time I hit the crest of the hill and headed back to the cross over point. This time I could see who was calling out support it was club legend Bryan Markham and Lisa Juson! I got another ‘well done’ and ‘you’ve got 80 yards on him’ meaning I’ve got 5th if it stays like this. Those few words gave me a spring in my step to go and catch 4th maybe 3rd in the closing 2 and a half km, so I grabbed a bottle of water – spilling most of it- but had enough to clear my throat and thought about when to kick down. As 8km passed I was probably 5 seconds off the back of 4th but noticed in the distance 2nd was slowing and that we may pass him soon and just before 9km we did and it came to 1km to grab 3rd so I started to kick and so did 3rd. As we crested the last incline it looked like he was sick but he didn’t break stride and as we took the turn in to the finish I knew he wasn’t going to break so I kept pushing with Toby and dad shouting support to the finish and I crossed the line in 34.33 and collapsed on to the grass after giving everything I had.
As I collected my breath and congratulated 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 5th I checked my watch and was shocked that I had takem 1 minute and 5 seconds off my previous best, a result I was not expecting. As I clapped in other runners and shouted in Croft runners I got talking to 3rd place who confirmed he was sick in the race as we kicked down showing he had given his all to keep me at bay. After watching the prize giving in which croft females took home the team prize and Charlotte and Ashley won age prizes, I was still waiting for the final 2 Croft runner’s to finish – my mum being pulled along by Clare Preece to complete her first 10km to cap off a great morning of running.
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