As we start to see a resumption of mass start racing it was great to see 7 blue vests on the startlines for the Longtown Llanthony Fell Race. Plural startlines this time because the race crosses the England/Wales border and was therefore subject to Welsh Covid rules with groups of 30 runners starting at midday and 2pm. The weather was fine but varied with wind on the east facing slopes and ridge, whilst it was almost too warm in the sun on the sheltered west facing aspects mid-race.
The first 5.5km were all flagged with no options to choose your own route and took us uphill through the fields of Cayo Farm before a stile lead onto the open hill and a brief respite as we turned north and enjoyed some level running along the in-bye line. Having caught our breath we veered left and climbed steeply up a zig-zag path to join the Offa’s Dyke path as it climbs northwards along the Hatteral Ridge before turning west and enjoying some fast grassy downhill terrain along the path towards Loxidge Tump and CP4. Here freedom beckoned as we were allowed to choose our own line and the brave took a sharp left to descend steeply to CP5 in Cwm Siarpal enjoying 150 metres of descent in just under 300m of running before crossing 2 rocky streams and sweating our way up a long rising traverse back onto the ridge to rejoin the Offa’s Dyke Path and head south to CP6. From here we were once again constrained by a mandatory flagged route to the finish with just short of 4km of mostly downhill running, south along the ridge before turning sharply left to descend quite gently on a good path back to the stile that we had crossed on the way out and back through the fields to flat blast along the farm drive and vicious finish up the steep start/finish field to cross the line.
Once both waves had finished the results were compiled and posted online in a time considerably quicker than most runners had taken to run the race.
The winner was Felix McGraph from Bristol and West AC, completing the course of around 11.5km with about 650m of ascent in an astounding 53 minutes and 29 seconds, over 13 minutes ahead of his nearest rival!
Our star of the day was undoubtedly Jasper Robinson running in his first fell race and finishing in 7th place and 2nd Junior in 1:12:49 despite being lead slightly astray by considerably more experienced runners on the first big climb.
Photos attached of those that ran in the 1st wave, sadly I think the photographer must have gone home before the 2nd wave. The photos were all taken on the approach to CP5 and those with sharp eyes may notice that we managed to arrive from 3 different directions.
The full Croft results were:
7th Jasper Robinson 1:12:49 2nd Junior
26th Greg Jones 1:21:08 5th MV50
32nd Tim Jones 1:24:14 7th MV50
34th Emma Jones 1:25:28 4th FV40
39th Flora Gunner 1:30:26 3rd FV50
43rd Ashley Robinson 1:43:09 3rd MV70
47th Gary Gunner 2:03:52 5th MV70
NB Gary, aged 75, had run two fell races in four days. Tim likewise, but he’s 20 years younger!