Probably the nicest weather for the last race of a cross country season for a very long time. The ground was pretty dry despite recent rain (recent years have seen varying degrees of quagmire) except for the occasional patch of mud. There was sun and not that much wind so altogether the racing was disconcertingly fast considering that this course is the longest we do at 6 miles for the men and rather more than 3.5 for the women. That is my excuse for dropping out after only half a mile but even by then it was clear that Llyr would do a better job of completing the rather depleted Men’s team. A factor in that depletion was the referee’s decision to disallow our new recruits Joe W and Gerwyn who originally began the season running for “Nantglyn”, although that club never officially existed! However, I predict that they will make an impact next year.
Of the official team, in the absence of Shaun – who had been forced down the salt-mines for the day by the exploitative capitalist system (i.e. he was at work) – we had Glen looking very cool in his sunglasses but still just about able to fumble his way over the fence ahead of the totally extravagant style of a leaping Tony W (see facebook pics). The two were up there with quite a bunch all the way round and Tony (63rd) needed to save his energy a bit for that final kick in which Glen (57th) kept him, and the others, at bay. Another duo getting used to being pretty close throughout races was that of Tom (74th) and David (76th). David pushed very hard all the way but couldn’t quite get right up with Tom to be able to sit-in comfortably because every time he got close Tom put in that little extra again. In comparison, Owen (90th) ploughed a lonely furrow, a little further back from these two than he had been at Baschurch, but he still managed to move up steadily after a sensible start. Which left Llyr (127th) to run his best race yet as 6th counter and bring the team home in 3rd place on the day in Division 2, and 3rd overall for the series. The first two clubs gain promotion so we ought to be looking to win this Division next year.
At the start of the day the women were hoping to get into bronze medal position in the series, needing to beat Buckley by just 6 points to accomplish this. It didn’t quite happen despite a great effort by Ceri D (14th) who handled the early pace well enough to be the one hunting down those in front rather than having to hang on grimly. Namesake Ceri B (27th) looked very focused (sometimes I suggest that her concentration drifts) and that was certainly needed because her final half mile was all about hanging on – resulting in a photo finish with the girl in front. Neither Victoria (33rd) nor Tracey (34th) have had the best of health in the last few weeks so their cautious starts in about 50th were understandable in the circumstances. Last year they were more usually starting around 30th and moving up to the teens or early 20s, which is partly an indication of the improvement in standard which seems to be taking place in the women’s event but does show that they haven’t been quite so lucky with illness this season. Normally Katy (56th) might have been able to take advantage of them being below par but she has done a lot of racing this year and looked tired – clearly struggling to stay ahead of her sister Elen (58th) who should take a lot of confidence from getting so close. Menai (75th) was only 2 minutes further back which is a considerable achievement remembering how fast Katy and Elen are over shorter distances, both probably able to get a gap of 2 minutes in just 1 mile, let alone 3.5 miles. On her first outing over the country was Nicola (90th) who looked happy enough but obviously found that shortish cross country is more of a cardio-respiratory challenge than the half-marathons she has done before. If she keeps up this effort I predict that Nicola will see a lot of improvement both on road and country in the next few months.