‘For want of a nail, the battle was lost’ – well, just one unidentified finisher amongst 180 caused delays in getting the full results out (so the battle wasn’t exactly lost).
Once again the Shobdon Court venue looked lovely in the evening sunlight, and indeed, in view of the weather before and after, we were very lucky for Wednesday’s race, with the occasional puddle and some soft going, but mostly a good(?) hard surface to run on. The largest turnout yet assembled at the start where Mike thanked, amongst others, the ‘three old fogies’ [three outraged senior members!] who’d helped clear the course. For the first mile or so, through the blackcurrant field (a change from apple orchards), down through Chapel Dingle, along a field margin and onto the demanding trek up the footpath in a barley-field, runners were closely bunched, but as we wove round the lake and took in curves and rises in terrain in the arboretum, the ‘sheep’ became more separated from the ‘goats’. Another field margin, still climbing, across the access road and along to the long climb up to the Arches, where overtaking was possible if you chose your moment, and then a canter down the grassy avenue through the finish area, and then we did it all again!
Mark is in great form, finishing 3rd (33.17) on the night, and 3rd overall, behind Tim Iveson (32.56) and Eliot Taylor (33.03).With Stacey in 6th place, only19 seconds behind and Toby 9th (34.53), it was clear the Croft A team was set to win this final event, with Suzanne (30th and first female by two and a half minutes), making a brief reappearance for the club, not far behind. Indeed we were some 60 points ahead of Ludlow, the 2nd team on the night. Dave G put in a really good performance in 18th (36.47), as did Nigel (21st, 37.07) and Greg (25th, 37.27), with Gemma (66th, 42.41) completing the B team. Irina (85th, 44.06) ran her first competitive race since her year out in Ecuador, but is clearly getting back to form. Steph and Sam finished almost within touching distance. Rob (151st) in gentlemanly fashion allowed daughter Kim to precede him by a couple of places.
So, overall the A team (probably consisting of 6 or 7 runners over the series) were 2nd overall, overhauling 2 other teams at the last – a great achievement, considering there were 30 teams in the rankings. Mark was 3rd SM, Stacey first MV40, Sue first FV50, Toby first JM and I was first MV70.