Winter Cross Country Championship 22/23

Race Reports

Report by Men’s Team Captain Eric Apperley

You know what they say about buses; you wait forever for one to come along then two show up at once. Well, when we turned up to the first race at Pembridge, the first of two new locations for the Hereford and Borders cross country, the second bus was a little under fuelled. Races and injuries had weakened the team and we were missing some key members of the winning team from last year. We weren’t disheartened but, as the rain started, we knew that this race was all about damage limitation.

The two-lap race at Pembridge was through muddy fields and a little concrete area at the start of each lap. The Croft men managed to finish in third place overall – some two minutes off the front-runners from Hereford Couriers. The team consisted of myself (5th), Gareth Leek 11th, Jasper Robinson 17th and Mark Thomas 23rd.

The second race of the championship took place at Peterstow, a course we have raced at before but, to mix it up, it was reversed with a few little bits added to make for a tough two lap course. The Croft team was one of the smallest we have fielded in a while but we were still hoping to have a strong run out and see what we could do with the runners we had. The confidence paid off with a team win making a small dent in the overall lead in the championship. The team consisted of myself (3rd), Gareth Leek 4th, Jasper Robinson 13th and Sam Juson 16th.

The third race of the championship took place at a very cool Builth Wells, a well raced venue where the course changes every year to keep the racing fresh. This year it was a three-lap course through fields and a few back roads with a sharp uphill and downhill towards the end of the course. The Croft team was looking like getting some members back from injury but the weather decided to play its part with snow and ice making it hard for some members to make it to the race. We weren’t the only team affected but we had a great performance from the members that were able to attend. The Croft men managed to not only win but overhaul the deficit from third to first and take a lead of over seven minutes. The team was myself (1st), Aidan Yapp 4th, Gareth Leek 7th and Jasper Robinson 13th.

The fourth race of the championship took part in the New Year with Croft (our home race) taking on hosting duties. The Croft course is always a difficult race with plenty of ups and downs. This year was no different with the start immediately in to a long drag uphill before some respite with a down hill and some flat before climbing once again before a down hill into the muddy forest and then the final climb up Heartbreak Hill before a small descent into the finish. The Croft team was in full force for this race ready to give it their all. The men made this strength in numbers count with a win and an increase in the overall lead to just over fourteen minutes. The team was Aidan Yapp 2nd, Mark Lamonby 3rd, Eric Apperley 4th and Matt Yapp 6th.

The fifth and final race took place at another new location Bockleton hosted by Ludlow Runners. To say it was a tough course may be an understatement. A three lap course that starts with an uphill drag before getting on to the actual lapped course that had us going through a small wooded section before heading down hill before climbing and descending once more then the longest of the climbs up before a slight downhill section to start a new lap. The Croft team was once again strong with many members turning up to seal the championship win for the second time in our history with back to back titles. The final winning team was Mark Lamonby 3rd, Gareth Leek 4th, Eric Apperley 5th, and Sam Juson 9th.

From the first race in November to the final race at the end of March, the Croft men’s team have demonstrated their commitment and determination to take the Winter Cross Country Title for a second time. Often we don’t have the fastest runner in a race. What we do have is a team that turns up and runs hard. In four out of the five races we had more of our men in the top 20 than any other club. It’s the depth of talent we have, combined with the fact that we get out there and take part that makes the difference. It’s a proper team and that makes all the difference.

Thank you.


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