The second race in the Gloucestershire cross country league took place on Saturday at Charlton Park, near Malmesbury. Those lucky enough to enjoy the balmy weather in the first race at Blackbridge in early October were greeted by more familiar conditions this time, with an exposed wind swept park, water logged fields and slippery hills covered in mud. It was definitely a course for the purist.
Some of the early season enthusiasm and the numbers of Thornbury runners from the first race had ebbed away slightly. However, Cross-Country Captain Jim Godden was undeterred and managed to call in some favours to field a full men’s and women’s team.
The women’s team was a small, but experienced outfit of 4 runners who took part in a 6.4K race. In the early stages Clare Watt took the initiative and was closely followed by Jo Emerson. Jo acclimatised to the conditions in the first of the two-lap race, before winding up the pace and passing many of her tiring competitors in the second half. Jo was Thornbury’s first finisher in a very good 58th place out of 184 runners in 32:55 mins.
Clare was next and in 3rd place in the LV55 age category, a great achievement when racing amongst some of the strongest club runners in the area. Clare was 84th overall in 34:55 mins.
Angela Bushell is never one to shirk a challenge and as others grimly plodded to the finish, she waved to her team mates as she sped down the finishing straight, overtaking a couple of runners in the process. Angela was 111th in 36:36 mins. Judy Mills completed the quartet in 163rd place in 42:22 mins and was 4th in the LV60 age category.
The men’s 9.6K race was an extra lap around the heavily churned up course and 9.6K in total. Amongst the stalwarts, there were a couple of fresh faces to help boost the team up to 7 runners. Matt Johnstone made a cross country comeback after a 2-year hiatus and was the first finisher for the club in 82nd place in 42:12 mins.
Only 1 week after doing Beachy Head Marathon, Rob Watkins ran strongly to finish in 91st place in 43:00 mins. He was followed by Nick Langridge in 156th in 48:40 mins.
Robert Hopkins is slowly rediscovering his form after completing a Triple Ironman in September, even producing a closing sprint to overtake 2 runners at the end to finish 166th in 50:29 mins. Kevin Arnold managed to finish the course in normal road trainers without falling over, which was an achievement in itself. He skated around in 173rd place in 51:32 mins.
Anthony Yates and Jerry Clothier were locked in their own youth versus experience battle. In the end, this was a course for the more seasoned racer and Jerry had a little more in reserve to finish 1 place ahead in 196th in 59:10 mins to Anthony’s 59:47 mins.
Kevin Arnold warmed up for the cross country in the afternoon by taking part in the local parkrun in Swindon in the morning, which he completed in 22:48 mins.
Kevin Wood and Hugh McPherson were at Chipping Sodbury parkrun and finished in 23:30 mins and 24:14 mins. Mike Bennewitz ran Pomphrey Hill parkrun in 27:17 mins.