Herefordshire winter league – Womens Captain report

Race Reports
Apologies to all for the lack of race reports for the winter league for the female runners. So I’m going to do one report for the league.
I’d like to start by saying a big well done to all the runners that have taken part throughout the league whether it be one or all the races. Every point counts wherever your position is. And what a fantastic result we had for the Croft ladies team to win the trophy for the Herefordshire winter cross country league with an impressive 81 points. Builth and District second with 134 points and Maldwyn Harriers third with 220 points. We also had Croft B team coming in fourth only 22 points behind third place Maldwyn Harriers and impressive 131 points ahead of fifth place Wye Valley runners. Croft finished the league with 6 finishing teams – C team 8th, D team 11th, E team 14th and F team 15th. Super impressive, well done all. Along with the team prizes Gemma Mallett overall female champion and first place Senior female. Followed by Kelly Bowen third place senior female. Emma Jones winning second place Vet 45 and Jo Marriott winning second place Vet 50. Great results by all.
December 2019 we went to Queenswood which was a league cross country race combined with it being a county championship race. This meaning that runners could opt whether they wanted to enter by paying the entry fee and they had to comply with the rules to qualify. At the presentation today many Croft runners were awarded their medals….
Kelly Bowen 2nd senior female
Robyn Gore 3rd senior female
And we won senior team prize which was Kelly, Robyn and Naomi Perkins.
Jo Marriott was 2nd Vet female and
Vet team prize was also won by Croft ladies. This team was Jo Marriott, Sue Davies and Sam Harper.
Fantastic ladies.
Going back to the start of the league, we started at Fforest fields which is hosted by Builth. This year it was a two lap course taking us around the pond before veering right across a field to join a wide steep track up to the highest point of the course. Conditions underfoot were very wet and in many sections was hard to get grip whatever shoes were worn. This was particularly the case as we came back down and followed a path meandering through trees and over roots before reaching the caravan park before repeating the circuit again. Croft ladies had a great turn out finishing with 7 teams with Croft A team being first and Croft B team in third place. What a promising start to the league. Fforest fields is a lovely venue where we are fortunate to have shower facilities, hot drinks and lots of cake to finish.
Our home race at Croft Castle National Trust was the second race of the league in November. Always held on Remembrance Sunday where we hold a minute silence before the race is started. It is great to see all the runners being respectful to this. For the women this is a shorter race than for the men. However much women want to be equal I think I can vouch for most to say that we are quite thankful for not running the same as the men as one and half laps is more than enough rather than three full laps. With weather conditions of rain rain and more rain and the added extra of cattle churning up the paths it was very muddy climbing up to the top of the ambrey. The mud was very tiring on the legs with trying to negotiate where to put your feet and deal with the  elevation tiring us out but atleast we only had to go once. Reaching the top then meant we had to go back down. Again lots more mud where control was limited and brakes were virtually nil (to me this just adds to the fun). Once down we enjoy fire tracks down through fishpool valley before reaching ‘heartbreak hill’. This lovely hill where people stand there cheering you on and your not sure whether to be thankful or cry as it’s hurts and you know you have to do it again before getting to cross that finish line. We now have reached to top and start the half lap which is repeating the field climb to the crossroads where we take pleasure in turning right across a firetrack before rejoining the path down through fishpool valley, up heartbreak hill and down to the finish line. Croft ladies had another strong turnout of 8 teams where we had a newcomer to the team Hannah Lancaster who took victory of the race
shortly followed by Gemma Mallett in second place. With strong performances by all runners Croft A team remained in first place and Croft B team remained in third place.
December we went to Queenswood hosted by Wye Valley runners. This is another two lap challenging course with some cheeky climbs to tire out the runners. As expected the ground was still very wet under foot and some sections there was a camber too which added to the challenge for the runners trying to grip into the mud. Thankfully this year Wye Valley has altered the route slightly which meant we only had to do the ‘nasty climb’ once in the first lap as the second lap they sent us straight across rather than turning us down. Im sure this was welcomed by all the runners. Croft ladies weren’t as strong at the front of the race dropping our B team into overall 4th place. Croft A team finished in second place at this race but thankfully from previous performances we were still able to hold the overall first place position.
January took us to Rotherwas hosted by Hereford Tri club. This race is most likely to be the least favourite for our runners. It’s a three lap course around a flat field next to the River Wye. This field is just over two miles per lap and it can be mentally challenging but needs must, we need to make the most of a hill free course. I found this course challenging under foot, the mud was energy zapping to add to mental challenge of going around three times. We had 6 teams for this race. Croft A team finishing second in the race but still holding on to first overall.
Finally we finished in February with Presteigne hosted by Presteigne pacers and Hay hotfooters. This is another race that is shorter for the women and the women start slightly earlier at 10.45am to make it easier for the women to take their course correctly. The route starts on wide fire tracks uphill before turning left up narrow muddy tracks until you join another wide track for a short distance before more narrow tracks up to the highest point. The narrow tracks are single file so getting a good position at the starts helps although it is tough with it being such a long uphill drag all the way to trig point. This race has lots of technical sections meandering through trees, over roots and lots of muddy sections before you reach the final fire track section where you now know it’s down hill all the way to the finish line. Time to dig deep and pick up speed and what a finish we had. Gemma Mallet finishing first with newcomer Alice Gooding running a great first race for the club finishing second and Roxy Woodfield finishing tenth to make up the first Croft team home. It shows that marathon running/training is paying off for these runners as they get stronger and stronger.
It has been a great pleasure to be team captain of such a great team of runners and that is to all of you. Taking part in these events is what counts and I’ve witnessed so many runners progressing over the months, getting stronger and enjoying the races.
Well done Croft Ambrey ladies. Keep up the training and enjoy running.

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