Running is very much an individual sport in which everyone has their own favourite races, formats and goals. Some people even run for fun! Nevertheless, I was delighted to see a strong turnout of 24 Croft men line up for the final race of the 2018/19 winter series, this being far more than any other club. Moreover, we had enough firepower to place 6 men in the top 30, so that Croft comfortably secured 3rd place in the series team event. Many congratulations to 11 different Croft athletes who formed part of the A team in one or more races this winter. Special praise for Mark Lamonby, who was first Croft runner home in four of the five races. Mark Thomas and Glyn Williams both featured three times, while young Will Gore chipped in twice.
Presteigne is never an easy race but the recent warm spell meant that conditions underfoot were probably as good as one could hope for at this time of the year. As far as I am aware, no one plunged into an icy mud bath on this occasion! As usual the race profile involved around 1250 feet of vertical ascent, with five significant climbs over a 6.8 mile course. The final climb, shortly after the start of the fourth mile saw most runners shuffling upward, bent double and with hands pressing down on knees, as they ascended 450 feet in around half a mile. The only consolation was that once at the top, you knew that it must be down hill most of the way home! Looking through the results, you can get an inkling of the individual battles that took place. My own competition group included Ashley Robinson and Ian Price, both of whom dominated their age groups over the course of the winter series. I was happy to tuck in behind them during the fairly level 3rd mile through mixed woodland and managed to open up a gap on the final, long climb. Determined not to be overtaken on the run for home, I ran the fastest kilometer since I started using a Garmin watch in 2011 (admittedly downhill)!
This was a difficult series for clubs and organisers, with race one at Fforest Fields postoned (and then taking place in snow and ice), a great, new venue found by Wye Valley at Queenswood and Presteigne and Hay (an up and coming club) combining to put on the race at Presteigne. A big ovation for Mike Blenkinsop at the awards ceremony was richly deserved (with credit too for the other stalwart organisers). I counted more than 15 Croft men who completed at least 4 races in the series and more than 30 that completed one or more. We had six individual award winners, as well as the 11 that helped us to the 3rd placed team trophy. Well done each and everyone and good luck for the season ahead.
The “A” team comprised: Mark Lamonby (5), Mark Thomas (3), Glyn Williams (3), Will Gore (2), Jack Wilson, Simon Norwood, Jordan McQueen, Andy Salt, Gareth Leek, Ashley Robinson and Will Hayward.
Photos thanks to Theresa and Kelly – randomly sized to fit screen.