Gwent League Race 5 – Brecon 5th Mar 2016
Unfortunately, your correspondent was laid low by a nasty illness and was in no fit condition to race or to share a car, spreading germs on colleagues, and was forced to huddle at home instead. It was very disappointing, having completed all the other league fixtures. I can already feel your waves of sympathy reaching me over cyberspace – wimp, softy, muppet, call yourself a proper runner etc.
Still, there it was and that means that this report is written somewhat remotely by looking at the results and lacks the usual observations of the Thornbury team’s physical antics and verbal indiscretions so readily and unwittingly provided in such generous amounts by my willing colleagues.
So, how did we do?
Well, the ladies were back down to two in their team and missing Ros. But in their 5.7K race Angela Bushell was 104th in 32:53 and Judy Mills 130th in 35:41.
This left the team 8th in their division on the day and 9th over all for the season and still in their Division 2.
In the over all teams they were 37th of 48 on the day and 41st of 95 for the season.
The Vets team were 23rd of 37 on the day and 33rd of 61 for the season.
The V45 team were 15th of 26 on the day and 20th of 51 for the season.
The V55 team were 13th of 13 on the day (Come on, Judy) and 16th of 21 for the season.
The men’s team were not so lucky and, despite putting out a full team for each fixture and putting on a brave showing at the last with 6th position on the day in their Division 2, fell just 58 points off catching GWR, who also had a full team out – rotten swines, and were unable to move out of 11th for the season which means they will be relegated to Division 3 next for season – our first ever relegation. Bad luck, guys.
Leading the team home in the 9.4K race was, again, Rob Hopkins in 85th in 42:53. Behind him looks like what must have been quite a tussle with Dave Beard 146th in 47:20 and a returning Mike Willis just one second behind in 147th in 47:21. The rest of the team was Captain Paul Thomas in 172nd in 49:44, Steve Dimond 208th in 54:26, and bringing up the rear Pete Mainstone in 218th in 57:07.
In the over all teams the men were 27th of 63 on the day and 42nd of 134 for the season with the 2nd team 62nd of 63 on the day (Get a move on, Pete) and 110th of 134 for the season.
The Vets team was 14th of 47 on the day and 23rd of 94 for the season.
The V45 team was 29th of 45 on the day and 13th of 79 for the season.
The V55 team was 10th of 32 on the day and 11th of 49 for the season.
The V65 team was 8th of 11 on the day and 10th of 17 for the season.
As far as the club championships are concerned Ros Rowland romped home in the ladies competition in both the outright and age related categories. However, as the same runner cannot win both under club rules the age related trophy goes to the second in the category so will be awarded to Angela Bushell, her first award.
In the men’s championship there were also two new winners with Rob Hopkins taking the men’s trophy, a just reward for several years of fine performances. In the age related, Mike Willis just recovered from illness in time to complete his six qualifying races for his first trophy. Mike has become somewhat super charged since his retirement, somehow, and is actually miles ahead of anyone when the age adjustments are calculated, so well deserved.
The correspondent hopes to be recovered for next season but on a brighter note for him he did at least manage to see Hyde United win a match on the Monday night before the bug took proper hold, including a wonder goal from our England C centre forward – caught it on his hip, back to goal, spun and hit an arcing volley from 30 yards over the keeper’s outstretched arms and dropping into the top corner. It might be on goal of the month.
Gloucester League Race 4 – Warwick University 20 Feb 2016
So we reached the final fixture of the Gloucester League season. The ladies were back down to two with Angela Bushell accompanying Ros Rowland but for the third fixture in a row the ladies failed to raise the three needed for a team.
The men met up with only five runners with Dave Beard making not only making his debut but volunteering to drive us in his super duper Volvo land cruiser – comfort. We arrived at Warwick University grounds to find a pavilion where we could change in the calm and dry and a balcony where we could look out on the course. Then, happily, one of the “might turn up on my own” promises came to fruition as Jim Godden walked into the pavilion and we had a full men’s team of six.
Although the ladies did not have a team Ros still had plenty to run for, being in tight medal contention with two other runners for second and third place. We were in time to see the ladies’ 7.3 K race and Ros set off determinedly, taking an early second place in her customary sprint start. After a few yards the leaders swamped her and she settled down in a more suitable pace. At the end of the first lap she was running strongly, well placed in the field and we saw her again at the end sprinting again down the final slope to overtake one more runner for a good finish of 29th in 35:48 and 1st LV50. Would it be enough?
Angela had a good run behind, ploughing through the mud for 59th in 42:14.
In the men’s 10.1 K race the team kind of ran in pairs. The course itself was partly around the edge of pitches but then went mostly into woodland paths, most of which seemed to be covered in a thick gooey mud, not as deep as last week at Monmouth but more sticky and susceptible to sideways slipping. There was also a strong headwind to contend with in a couple of open stretches.
In the first pair of runners, Jim Godden led Rob Hopkins around the course but as the race came to its closing stages Rob started to pick up places in the last half lap and was closing down on Jim as well. He managed to overtake Jim about 300 metres from the finish and to hold him off to the line for 51st in 43:29 and seemed rather pleased with himself. All this training for 82 mile races must develop some endurance strength. Jim finished right behind in 53rd in 43:37.
The next pair was a bit stretched really but as the rush at the start settled down and Nick Langridge found his pace and picked up places he started to see a tantalising glimpse of red and light blue ahead. Each time the course opened up there it was, Dave Beard, just out of reach. Both ploughed through the mud, slipping this way and that and round the field edges. Nick gained some places on the second lap but Dave wasn’t one of them and on to the third it was just keep going. Dave might have been ten yards nearer on entering the woods but still a glimpse ahead. There was no catching anyone on the third lap until the end when Nick passed two fading runners but Dave was still the same gap ahead at the end for 90th place in 49:14 while Nick was 95th in 49:59.
The last pair were Pete Mainstone and Jerry Clothier. Apparently, Pete was on Jerry’s shoulder – not quite sure what he was doing there (pieces of eight, pieces of eight), but, as they came to the right turn for the first short lap Jerry head a voice behind him suddenly say “Oh s**t”. He looked behind but couldn’t see anyone so did what any decent runner would do and carried on to leave Pete behind. The reason for the exclamation became clear later as Pete had failed to take the turn, slipped and fallen headlong into the ditch at the side. Best place for him, we thought.
Jerry carried on without interruption from Pete and finished 122nd in 57:29. Pete came in, rather mud spattered with a large fetching blob across his nose in 124th in 58:23.
So we went back to the pavilion to discuss the state of the course and change. No baby wipes needed when there were warm showers available, sheer luxury! (When I were a lad we used to get changed in a bog and leeches would suck all our blood out! Bog, you were lucky……. and so on).
The medal presentations were made on the day as some availed themselves of the plentiful cake that was available. We waited for the LV50 award and Ros had succeeded as she was announced in second place and picked up her silver medal. She danced a jig of delight not only to beat her two challengers but improve on her bronze from last season.
Going into the final fixture Mike Willis was leading the men’s V60 category and would have a job to hold off the two behind. Looking at the results a normally fit Mike would probably have done it but he had fallen to flu and was unable to attend and, with the best three results to count, he suffered the penalty of the lower scores that are usually achieved at the final fixture. He still won a medal but would have to be satisfied with dropping to bronze.
The men’s team finished 12th on the day and 8th for the season while the vets were 8th on the day and 7th for the season.
So well done to the two medallists and to the men’s team for turning out and being ranked at the end of the season but the ladies really need a team in this most traditional and challenging of team running events.
Gwent League Race 4 – Monmouth Showground 13th Feb 2016
The cross country league season resumed with the Gwent League fixture at Monmouth Showground. For months, Pete Mainstone had been foretelling tales of doom in that it was too close to the river, bound to be flooded, parking impossible and cancellation inevitable. Well, he does know Wales, apparently, but in this case we arrived to find excellent firm parking and races already underway if in typical Welsh weather of dark grey sky and spitting rain. Pete, meanwhile, had excused himself by going to some other so called sporting occasion that involved big men displaying their homo-erotic tendencies in public by jumping on one another in a great big pile.
On Thursday evening, Ros Rowland had been in a ladies’ team of one but as the men arrived on the road by the side of the course the ladies’ 6.85 K race was already in progress and we immediately spotted Judy Mills running round so at least there were two. Then, as we looked for Ros we saw, just in front of her, Jo Plumbley so the extra two coming to a late rescue ensured that the ladies had a full team for the first time this season.
As we parked and went to the course, Jo was still keeping the distance on Ros and held it to the end, swapping the warmth of her recent sojourn in the sub-tropics for the cold mud and glory of cross country, finishing just ahead in 49th in 33:56 with Ros finishing 54th in 34:16. Judy plodded on and added valuable points a little later in 125th in 41:38.
The ladies gathered at our changing spot, inside the fenced off tent area with the deep muddy entrance in between other club tents on the wet and muddy grass. Their mud caked legs provided the evidence as they told us of the state of the course, especially the muddy corners though they all seemed very upbeat about it. Jo produced a tub of baby wipes and distributed some for the cleaning of legs. Is this some new running must-have or just a girlie thing? Judy put on her kinky boots and off they went.
The ladies’ team showed a marked improvement in position, especially with the valuable return of Jo, finishing 5th in Division 2 and are now 9th over all and looking like maintaining their status. In all teams they came 21st of 47, in the vets 10th of 35, in the V45 teams 10th of 31 and in the V55 teams 14th of 16.
The men had also just mustered a full team of five for their 9.91 K race despite Captain Paul’s efforts to summon more with multiple text messages. Steve Allen arrived separately and his beaming face helped to keep our spirits up as we waited and warmed up a little in the damp conditions.
The ladies weren’t wrong about the course. The start along the riverside was in deep mud and we splashed our way through it to firmer ground. Those who kept an inside line were able to run through standing water. The corners were deeply muddy, the far end involved running transversely up a muddy slope, and there was a long fenced section where the path in between was quagmire. But at least it was generally runable mud rather than slide about all over the place mud, if you had the right spikes.
The Thornbury team were a bit processional in order with Rob Hopkins leading the way and finishing 113th in 46:35, followed by Steve Allen in 150th in 48:39. The only competition was for the next place where Nick Langridge passed captain Paul on the first bit of firm ground. Captain Paul then tracked Nick on to the second lap, both taking places, but then Captain Paul, self confessedly admitting to taking a break from training and over eating to the extent of gaining a stone in weight, started to fall back as the extra luggage started to take its toll. After the race he even confessed to walking a bit – tut, tut, captain, finishing 233rd in 56:47. Nick continued to make a few places in the last two laps and was pleased to gain through the quagmire path, showing how a week away cross country skiing can improve balance on a slippy surface, maybe, and finished 202nd in 53:15. Jerry Clothier brought up the rear of the team, worried if we would wait long enough for him, of course we would, and added extra points to the team in 262nd place in 62:31.
Steve was still beaming at the end as we discussed the race, the heavy going, the sheer survival aspect of just keeping going in places but it was a real gold old cross country challenge. Maybe Steve was just still pleased at daughter Rosie’s second place in her junior race.
With not a baby wipe in sight, we just manned up and left the mud on as we changed on the soggy grass, trying, unsuccessfully, to keep mud off any other clothing and equipment as the rain still spotted down. We left the course to return home and clean the mud off, well, everything.
And then Rob, Ros and Judy went and did it all again at the Dursley Dozen the following morning. Some people just like mud baths.
Despite the men’s best efforts the team still only finished 9th in Division 2 and remain 11th overall, needing to claw back 232 points on GWR in the last fixture to avoid relegation. As we beat them by 297 on the day there is hope if we can get a decent team out. In all teams the men were 35th of 75, in the Vets 19th of 53, in theV45 teams 13th of 49, in the V55 teams 12th of 36 and in the V65 teams 10th of 12.
Avon Cross Country Championships 13th Dec 2015
For the first time in a few years we had entries into the County Championships. This used to be a popular event for Thornbury runners in the past but has been overlooked for a few years so it was good to see someone having a go at it again. The championship is run as a combined event with Somerset and Wiltshire and was held at the Bath University course.
It is also one of the 11 events that count in our club championship.
Although there was no one present to report the event the results show that in the ladies’ race Ros Rowland, fresh from the Gloucester League the day before, finished the race in 25th position in 32:01 in the combined results and was 10th of the Avon entrants and 4th LV50 in Avon.
In the men’s race Jim Godden, who overlooked the Gloucester League, finished 37th in 41:55 in the combined results and was 11th of the Avon entrants and picked up the silver medal for Avon as 2nd V50.
Gloucester League Race 3 – Blackbridge 12 Dec 2015
Just when you thought Storm Desmond had gone in comes another wind of even greater velocity for us to battle against. We must be up to about Storm Herbert by now. Fortunately we had found a sheltered spot behind the Stroud tent in which to shelter.
For the ladies it was the same story of, even though this was our other local race, still not being able to raise a team of three. However, Ros Rowland was back to accompany Angela Bushell around the delights of Blackbridge.
In the ladies’ 6.5K race Ros made her customary rocket start up at the front, then dropped back to a place where she could gather herself into a more settled race pace. This worked much more effectively as on the two long laps Ros had made significant gains each time she came past us and we urged her on, noticing the runners that she had overtaken. By the end she had pulled back up to 46th place in 35:38 and 3rd LV50.
Angela, further back, made a more steady effort, urged on again as she passed us, finishing 83rd in 39:48.
Ros returned to base and proceeded to deliver a lecture to the gathered men on how to run the course. Apparently, consistency was the thing to aim for, not to set off fast, save yourself on the short laps run consistently and you will catch up so stay consistent. Yes, Ros, we’ve got it – consistency!
The men did have a team. Captain Paul was fit to run again and had brought along son Chris to join in – all nepotism welcome. Rob Hopkins was back from last week’s 40 odd mile jaunt around the Brecon Beacons and Moray Sloane reappeared from the first race of the season. Mike Willis, Nick Langridge and Pete Mainstone made up the team with the rest of last week’s contributors not able to make a successive appearance.
The men’s 9K race was unusual in that there were 2 short laps and 3 long, making it the first cross country 5 lapper I can remember doing. As we set off Rob led from the front, with the sound of the blowing rustle of paper being heard as race numbers flapped when we turned into the cross wind. Across the top of the field the wind was vicious as we made our way into it and again as we crossed the bottom of the field. On the third lap we left the field and headed through the track between bushes and out into the wind again on the other side with another vicious blast to work through across open space to a hummock, over and round with the relief of having the wind behind to the end of the lap. At least the going was soft and only muddy in isolated patches.
Rob was showing that his 8 hour run round South Wales had been good preparation for the conditions and eventually finished 60th in 40:57. Mike and Captain Paul were together at the beginning but then Mike, ignoring all Ros’s advice “went for it from the beginning” and left Captain Paul behind. It worked for a while for Mike but caught up with him later on and he ran out of steam a little in the later stages, trying to keep up with the leading V60 rivals, but still finished 88th in 43:12 and 3rd V60, leaving it all to play for in the final event. Captain Paul ran out 114th in 45:35 after the previous week’s injury.
Moray started off ahead of Chris and Nick. After a steady start, Nick got going on the two small laps and started overtaking other runners, including Chris. He also made up a lot of ground on Moray and closed him right down but as we entered the first long lap Moray picked up again and stretched the gap to a larger distance which stayed consistently the same to the end with Nick spotting Moray in his trademark pirate’s head scarf the same distance ahead at the same bends on each lap. Nick was left somewhat isolated in a gap too far behind the next runner to overtake and too far ahead of the following runner to be in much danger. So, he just ploughed a lonely furrow, keeping consistent to maintain position and, true to Ros’s advice, found himself catching a small group ahead and just managed to take a Clevedon runner before the end. Moray was 121st in 46:19 and Nick 125th in 46:48. Not long after, Chris came in looking like he had had a painful time for 134th in 48:18 but was able to make a useful contribution to the team score on his first outing and claimed 3rd U20.
We returned to our camp and not much later Pete appeared going past us up to the finish for 161st in 54:45, keeping 6 other runners behind him. What a consistent run!
The men’s team were 14th of 17 and the Vets 11th of 18.
Once again we changed to head off for calmer, and more consistent, surroundings.
The leagues now take a rest while various county and regional championships are contested in January and return in February.
Gwent League Race 3 – Blaise Castle 5th Dec 2015
Storm Desmond greeted us blowing strongly across the open field of Blaise, fluttering all the team banners and tents (of the other clubs) like a medieval pageant. The men had a strong team of 9 out for our most local of fixtures, yet despite the convenience and ease of Blaise the ladies could still not manage to raise a full team of just 3 runners. However, Angela Bushell was saved from being a team of only one by the debut of new member Taryn Roberts who had been enthused by stories and benefits of cross country running.
The ladies had already finished when we arrived with a windblown Angela declaring understatedly that it was OK having finished 179th in 32:19 and Taryn smiling from her first race having finished a splendid 82nd in 27:39 out of over 200 runners. Apparently it was quite sheltered in the trees and quite dry underfoot.
Despite short numbers the ladies team finished 6th in the 2nd division and move up to 9th over all, possibly benefiting from some Welsh teams not being able to persuade all their members over the bridge. Over all the team was 39th out of 64, the vets team 36th of 44 and V45 team 26th of 31.
The men’s team also benefited from a couple of debuts with Matt Johnstone coming to see what all the fuss was about and Chris Dawes making a transition from Park Runs – see, it can be done. Jim Godden turned out again and was keen to point out that his last appearance was now not a rare outing as today meant that he had been to two races in a row. Steve Allen appeared for the first time this season and Kevin Arnold also came for a run and they now take up the baton of rare outings. Pete Mainstone made a first appearance on the anniversary of his regeneration from last season’s near death experience, and declared himself to be Thornbury’s own Dr. Who. Captain Paul had hurt an ankle and was not fit to run but turned up to do his duties anyway by supporting us and taking humiliating photographs.
We changed in the open, being careful to make sure that Desmond didn’t blow anything away and flapped about to keep warm as we moved over to the start and hid among the herd of over 400 runners. The start is fairly wide at Blaise and we got away well but then were congested as the route went down the narrower track at the side of the field, finally opening out again as we went up the slope at the end and into the trees. The course was, indeed, quite dry with only a couple of small patches of mud and with stones more to the surface it was quite uncomfortable for running in spikes on some sections which proved not to be the best choice for the day.
At the front of the Thornbury group, the competition was quite close with Matt, Jim and Steve all near to each other. Matt was eventually able to prevail, I put it down to the good advice he received before the start, finishing 155th in 41:46 just a few places ahead of Jim at 164th in 42:11 who was just 9 places ahead of Steve at 173rd in 42:28.
Mike Willis was on his own among the Thornbury runners but felt he hadn’t had the best of runs, sniffling to show why but still managed 228th in 44:06. Behind him Nick Langridge took next place from the start but was passed early on by Chris at the far end of the field who then proceeded to pull away. But just going on to the second lap Nick was surprised to see Chris ahead, stopping to stretch his arms up and generally have a walk round and a look at the scenery. Unfortunately for Nick, Chris started running again before he reached him and, although he gained for a short while Chris regained his running and started to pull away again, not to repeat the rest routine. It seemed later that he had a bad stitch and was easing it away. Chris was 270th in 46.00 and declared that it was a different experience from any other running that he had done with Nick at 289th in 47.24 feeling not on top of things and saying it wasn’t great.
Kevin was next to finish at 330th in 49.58.
Behind him Jerry Clothier and Dr. Who were running quite closely together and, having seen some of the faster runners lap them were delighted to have caught and lapped the very last runner themselves just before the finishing straight. Jerry said it was the first time that he had ever lapped anyone. Jerry was 368th in 56:00 and Pete 371st in 56:19 who obviously hasn’t mastered the proper art of time travelling yet.
The men’s team had an improved performance finishing 8th in Division 2 but remain 11th over all and still in a relegation spot. In all the men’s teams we were 37th with a 2nd team at 74th out of 96. The Vets team were 19th of 63, the V45 team 10th of 57, the V55 team 8th of 38 and the V65 team 8th of 12.
Everyone felt it had been a hard course for Blaise with Desmond really buffeting us as we ran straight into the storm winds for the length of the fields and again, and more exposed, as we doubled back to run up to the second section of woods. The earlier finishers were in time to see the sight of Desmond blow one of the club tents off its moorings and across the fields. The club concerned were able to recover the tent. We changed carefully with our belongings and left for calmer surroundings.
Gwent League Race 2 – Llandaff Fields 8th Nov 2015
Wales looked its usual gloomy self as we headed for Cardiff. Follow the A48 said the instructions, follow the A1461 said Mrs GPS. Captain Paul was listening to Mrs and the curse of the GPS struck again as we hit traffic in central Cardiff, then saw what looked like a park on the right while GPS insisted on turning left. We stopped and sent Jerry out to investigate. After speaking to what looked like a drunk he came back to say it was just up the road and on the right while GPS kept saying turn left. We couldn’t see a way through on our right so sent Jerry out to investigate again. He came back to say just a bit further up and opposite the pub. We reached the pub and then recognised Llandaff Fields and found the last space to park in, with just enough time left before the race.
We found Ros Rowland and Angela Bushell, having already completed their accurately measured 5.97K race. Jim Godden had also already arrived, for a rare outing. Ros had finished 90th out of another massive field of almost 300 runners in the women’s race. Angela was pleased with having started steadily then spent most of her time making up places for 204th place in 32:17.
However, with only two runners the ladies yet again failed to have a full team. Although the Gwent League scoring system allows short handed teams to count, it’s still a great handicap against those with full teams. This reflected in the scores with the ladies finishing 8th out of 9 teams. However, with two teams not turning out at all they are now 9th equal out of 11 teams and back in the competition to avoid relegation. Well done Ros and Angela. The ladies finished 48th out of 78 over all, 31st out of 49 in the Vet 35 category and 15th out of 38 in the V45 category.
Ros had taken notice of the weather and thoughtfully brought bin bags for everyone to store their kit bags in and dished them out. The men warmed up, or not, on the adjacent field as the clouds darkened and then they gathered with another huge Gwent League field of over 500 men at the start.
There was a minute’s silence for Remembrance Sunday and we were set off on our 4 lap 9.81K race round the park lands, mostly flat, through some trees and with a couple of small rises and stretches covered in sticky mud. Jim Godden set off quickest with Rob Hopkins following. Rob gradually closed Jim down over the first couple of laps but ran out of steam a little while Jim still had some left in the tank to pull away again for 197th in 40:42 while Rob was 206th in 41:00, a close race at the finish.
Mike Willis and Captain Paul set off together with Nick Langridge close behind. They were more involved with the masses and somewhat held up in the crowds of runners but then started to find gaps and move through, taking numbers of places. After a good first lap, the second was more of a keep it going state of mind. Nick was still close behind Mike and Paul and was able to look up with interest and see them across each corner and double back as first Paul led, then Mike, then back to Paul, then side by side. It wasn’t until on the third lap that Mike had a little gap on Paul that slowly grew to the end of the race with Mike finishing 274th in 43:05 and Paul 306th in 44:08 It turned out that Captain Paul was suffering from some over indulgence on the food and drink side from a function the night before and blamed that for his performance (what a poor example for his team who had all had monastic nights in the night before an important race!!!).
Nick still had Paul in his sights on the last lap and, still passing some other runners, gained on him but not enough to be in catching distance and finished 328th in 45:17.
All three of then had a wait of about ten minutes in the finishing tunnels as there was some hold up in handing out finish place disks. A few specks of rain had fallen in the last lap and we were just willing them to hurry up before the downpour began.
Jerry gamely brought up the rear of the Thornbury contingent for 441st in 52:39 and appeared back at our changing spot covered in mud having taken a fall at a gooey place. He received little sympathy as we were more concerned with hurriedly changing in the wind and specks of rain.
Jerry was not so hurried and was more relaxed when we told him he could take his time this week as Judy was not here to berate him. Jerry said he needn’t have brought his ear plugs after all.
We walked back to the car as rain started to come down more heavily. Maybe Wales had had a bit of sympathy for us. We headed back for England using the instructions rather than GPS and had no problems at all finding the way.
I remain convinced that GPS is for people who can’t read maps, or follow instructions. Oops, sorry, mates.
The men’s team finished 11th out of 12 in their 2nd division and remain in 11th place over all, still in a relegation spot. Come on, guys, we need some help. Over all they were 53rd out of 118, the V35 team were 23rd out of 81, the V45 team 13th out of 66 and the V55 team 16th out of 37, and the V65 team 7th out of 10.
Gloucester League Race 2 – Malvern Common 31 Oct 2015
Women Out, Men Soldier On
A Halloween Horror Hill at Malvern beckoned but we were greeted not with a gloomy, threatening atmosphere but brilliant sunshine across the Malvern Hills, more reminiscent of a June day than the last glimmer of October. Nevertheless, Kevin Cundy had been filled with such stories of the Malvern course by his helpful car companions on the way up that he was immersed in his own horror void and ready to run for it in the opposite direction.
Calm restored under the warm sun, a large field of runners gathered for the ladies’ 6.5K race, with the exception of Thornbury who could only muster two competitors. With a minimum of three needed for a ladies’ team this meant that, under Gloucester League rules, we would be omitted from the team results and no longer be valid to count in the season long competition. Shame!
Ros Rowland and Judy Mills could only run as individuals but set out to do their best anyway. And, Ros certainly did, judging, as she said, her effort on the hill to leave enough in store for the rest of the course. She came round well up at the end of the first lap. Had she set off too quickly? Would she fade in the second lap? Well, as the runners came round to finish the final lap the answer was a definite no as Ros finished strongly and well ahead of some of her usual rivals for 41st in 32:02 and 3rd LV50.
Judy also maintained her improvement from the first fixture and impressed everyone with her finishing burst to finish with a flushed red face and breathing hard for 112th in 38:39.
The ladies’ team and vets team were, of course, both unplaced.
The men needed six for a team and exceeded that by two. Another large field for the 9.6K race saw Andi Davies, whose customary sunglasses were justified today, leading the Thornbury contingent, running strongly all the way round for 37th in 39:53.
Mike Willis, having heard Ros talking about a bottleneck at the first stream crossing, decided he wasn’t going to be involved in that and set off up the grassy slope like a greyhound from the traps, leading Rob Hopkins off round the first lap. Rob did catch and overtake Mike but then the effects of last week’s marathon caught up with him and Mike was able to pull back and regain the place going on to the second lap, a position he maintained until the end for 102nd in 44:06 and 1st V60 while Rob was104th in 44:49.
Meanwhile, Anthony Yates, who had been limping about and scowling as if in physical and mental pain before the race showed that this was just a front to lull the others as he made a fast start to the race and left Captain Paul and Nick wallowing in his wake. Anthony set up a gap which the others couldn’t close for the first lap while Captain Paul, starting cautiously after his marathon and Nick (well I did do a half) ran together, swapping places round the first lap, gaining loads of places on the hill, but not on Anthony.
As we went into the second lap, Nick caught and took Captain Paul again but Paul was now getting into his running and retook the place and started to forge ahead. Across the stream and ditches and on to the hill, Anthony started to feel the effects of his early efforts (and last week’s marathon?) and struggled up only to be passed by both Paul and then Nick, both gaining several places on the hill. Captain Paul pushed on to finish 128th in 47:04 while Nick, gaining and losing places on the third lap finished 143rd in 48:37. Anthony came in 151st in 49:41, making further progress by keeping Paul and Nick behind him for half the race (No hills next week, Anthony).
Further back Jerry Clothier and Kevin had their own battle which lasted for the first lap until Kevin started to pull away and finished 184th in 55:54, puffing but happy to have beaten a proper cross country course. Malvern has a bit of everything in different sections round the course – moorland, grassland, streams, ditches, uphill, downhill, woodland and dips to be one of the best challenges around. Jerry completed the Thornbury runners at 186th in 57:33.
The men’s team came 12th out of 17 while the vets were 10th out of 22.
Jerry sat down to recover, take some sustenance and discuss the race. But Judy, who had finished some time ago, was ready to go home and berated Jerry mercilessly to hurry up and change before it got dark with several references to his antiquity and tardiness and comments about how she now understood why the old men ran with the ladies in the Gwent League as they took so long to change afterwards.
We left the field still in bright sunshine, it had been more of a treat then a trick, with Jerry saying that he only wished that Pete was here so that he could have someone to “take the piss out of” in his turn.
Note: The Gloucester League have updated the results for the first fixture at Cotswold Farm Park and our reports and scores have subsequently been updated accordingly.
Gwent League Race 1 – Bridgend 11th Oct 2015
Unfortunately, the second of the weekend’s fixtures on the opening double header did not go so well team wise and captain Paul was left facing a dilemma that Jurgen Klopp would never have to face. Out of a potential pool of around 130 runners only 5 declared themselves available, leaving the men’s team one short and the women’s team two short. Liverpool FC are only playing with eight players this week as the rest of the squad have made other arrangements?
Still, on the up side our usual Welsh patriotic mascot was a safe distance away in Vienna and we didn’t have to suffer the usual gibberish (or wabblish) about the flat courses, good weather and general nonsense concerning all things Welsh (what sort of a supporter is he anyway, being in a none rugby country when his beloved team were playing an important World Cup match?).
Having said that, Bridgend is a pretty flat course around playing fields and ordinary fields with one awkward hill in the corner towards the end of each lap and we arrived to see it in the driest conditions in our running memories. Even the hill wasn’t slippy with its usual mud. Despite being held up by traffic around Cardiff because of some rugby match, Captain Paul drove us to Bridgend in a manner that reminded me that the Russian Grand Prix was also taking place today and enabled us to arrive in time to see Ros Rowland gallantly running towards the hill on her last lap and reappearing on the finishing circuit as she gained 2 places in the last 100 metres in a blanket finish for 87th in 30:08. Ros was the only runner for the ladies’ team.
In the men’s team Paul, Nick and Anthony returned from yesterday’s efforts while Kevin Cundy turned up to try cross country for the first time and was given plenty of advice about the first experience being a bit of a culture shock and just to take it as an acclimatisation to the event and see how it went. He declared himself amazed that there were so many runners there and hadn’t realised just how many competed at cross country events.
The men gathered by the starting stones in a large field of runners ready for the off. The gun went and a herd of athletes charged off. Those further back had to trundle a bit until everyone got going. The first lap was a bit of a sorting out lap, trying to work a way forwards which wasn’t easy as the route was full of runners. However, as it started to spread out a bit we were able to move more at our own pace.
Captain Paul set the lead for Thornbury, being 226th in 41:41 and was able to shout some encouragement to Nick as he left the far field on the 3rd lap as Nick was just entering it. Nick had managed to pick off a lot of places in the second and third laps, losing some but gaining a lot more, feeling a bit limited from the previous day but able to keep a steady pace for 299th in 45:09.
Anthony followed, also feeling the results of the previous day, but was still putting in an improved performance from last season. He was able to raise a last blast and put in a strong burst on the finish loop for 320th in 46:16 .
Kevin was still taken aback by the start of the race and feeling a bit worried in the first half but by the time he had reached half way he declared that he felt more comfortable with what was going on and enjoyed the second half, maintaining his own steady pace for 370th in 50:31.
We finished, quite pleased with our efforts on the whole, if one short of a team, and packed up to try and return past Cardiff before the Irish and French congested the motorway. Anthony was picked up by the cafe where he gasped in to but some refreshing drinks. Captain Paul zipped us back to Thornbury where Anthony collapsed out to limp back to his car to recover for next time.
Cross country seems to be increasing in popularity with over 420 in the men’s race and 250 in the ladies’. However, this was not reflected in the Thornbury turn out and, as far as the team results were concerned, the lack of numbers inevitably told. Short numbered teams count in the Gwent League and in the divisions the men’s team finished 10th out of 11 and are straight into a relegation fight while the ladies’ were rock bottom 11th out of 11 and facing the possibility of relegations in successive seasons. Captain Paul is now probably feeling he is in a position more like Sam Allardyce than Jurgen Klopp.
Overall, the men’s A team were 63rd, just behind Les Croupiers H team, and the ladies 57th. In the new veteran age categories the men’s V35 team were 47th, V45 team 32nd and V55 team 24th. The ladies’ V35 team were 37th and V45 team 22nd.
Gloucester League Race 1 – Cotswold Farm Park 10 Oct 2015
Two monumental management changes happened this weekend. Jurgen Klopp took over at Liverpool and Paul Thomas took over the captaincy of Thornbury Running Club Cross Country team. Who would be the more successful only time would tell.
So we arrived as a chill wind blew across the open Cotswold Farm Park grasslands and proudly planted the Thornbury flag by a tree and prepared for battle on a dry course. No insides of a pampered dressing room here.
Captain Paul made a good start with a full men’s team, just, and, thanks to the Davies’s arrival, a full women’s team.
The ladies’ 6.5 K race was first off with Nicki Davies leading the Thornbury group as the runners thundered out from the start around the bumps for the first time. Judy Mills had a slight lead on Angela Bushell but that was changed as the runners came down the other side of the bumps but both were a decent way up the field.
Nicki maintained her lead on the other two as the first lap went into the second and as they reappeared again to complete a final mini lap of the bumps, finishing 78th in 31:26. Angela forged a decent gap ahead of Judy for101st in 32:48 while Judy was 114th in 34:39 but with both significantly improving on last season’s performance. Judy was pleased to refind some form from last year’s injury slowed result.
This brought a team result of 27th and a Vets team placing of 20th and still in the competition.
Meanwhile the men were debating how much to keep on in the chill but as the wind dropped a little and with some bravado, vests were the order of the day. Another thunder of feet set the men going and Andy Davies headed the Thornbury runners to finish 49th in 35:28. Rob Hopkins kept a good second place to finish 111th in 38:30 while behind Captain Paul was our third runner. Mike Willis and Nick Langridge set off together and had a little battle over the first lap with Mike just in front but Nick, feeling fresh, just behind and picking up pace as he got going to overtake Mike on the first field past the bumps. Mike came back and regained his place up the slope with Nick tracking him into the rough field. Mike was able to make more of the slight overtaking opportunities on the narrow track and led on the last two sections back to the bumps. At this point Mike really picked up pace and left Nick behind gaining enough places to catch up with a rather surprised Paul. Paul, though, had reserved some energy and was able to regroup, hold off Mike and gain some distance to finish 125th in 39:11 while Mike was 132nd and 2nd V60 in 39:35.
Meanwhile, Moray had been tracking Nick round, who though feeling the effort was holding position. Somewhere on the third lap Moray felt he ought to put some effort in and, disobeying team orders, surged past Nick and a number of other runners on the track before the bumps gaining a number of places (hint – surge earlier) to finish 144th in 41:05 while Nick was 156th and 3rd V60 in 41:57.
Anthony Yates had been tracking both Nick and Moray and kept up well but the effort caught up at the end and he faded slightly back before putting in a good finish to complete our runners in 171st in 42:51.
The men’s team came in at 17th while the vets team was 11th.
So, a successful first day in the cross country season with all out teams completing and registering positions in the team events. We changed on the grass, dismantled the flag, grabbed hot drinks from flasks and left the chilly field, somewhere on a par with current Liverpool performances at our own level, if not in such luxurious changing surroundings.