Gwent League Race 5 – Pembrey Country Park 4th Mar 2017
Another low turn out for the teams saw two-thirds of a women’s team and two-fifths of a men’s team make the journey to Pembrey Country Park on the South Wales coast.
The men’s team of Mike Willis and Nick Langridge of mid 60s vintage, wondering what happened to those of lesser age, arrived to find an exhilarated and freshly blown Angela Bushell and Claire Watt, already having run, and saying ‘It’s a really good course’. They were sheltering in the large Neath club tent whose members had taken pity on them and invited them in for protection against the rather cold wind blowing across the area. The men took similar advantage of Neath’s generosity.
Claire had led Angela round in their 6.4 K race and was pleased with 80th place in 30:46 while Angela was equally positive about a 124th place in 35:04.
Between them they had gathered 142 points which saw them finish in 5th place in their Division 2 on the day and enough to maintain 10th position in the final standings and avoid a second successive relegation by one place.
In the over all standings the women’s team were 34th of 47 on the day and 47th for the season. The women’s vet team were 19th of 34 on the day and 30th for the season. In the V45 category they were 11th of 25 on the day and 22nd for the season. There were no competitors in the V55 team on the day but they had previously scored enough points to finish 17th for the season.
The men warmed up and set off for their 9.9 K race. The course itself was run on the fields, through the woods and over and along grassy hillocks behind the sand dunes. There was just one dune towards the end of each of the two laps where they had to run up the sand itself and across the top of a sandy dune, an unusual feature for a regular cross country. The cold wind blowing across gave added difficulty in the open areas, especially running into it on the long finishing straight, but we did avoid the heavy rain showers we experienced on the drive in.
The race itself was similar to Cheltenham between the two team members. Mike set off quicker, Nick caught up just after the start and, after a short while together, gained the lead but about half way through the first lap Mike overtook and opened up a gap. However, Nick matched Mike’s pace for the second lap and they were the same distance apart each time they passed in one of the in and out loops. Mike eventually finished 145th and 4th V60 in 42:31 while Nick was less than a minute behind at 154th and 1st V65 in 43:17.
Between them they gathered 145 points for the team and finished 4th in Division 3 and put the team safely in 7th for the season, although there will be plenty of strong teams coming up from Division 4.
In the over all standings the men’s team were 41st of 59 on the day and finished 58th for the season. In the vets category they were 30th of 44 on the day and 35th for the season. In the V45 category they were 15th of 39 on the day and 18th for the season and in the V55 category 7th of 26 on the day and 6th for the season.
As we left the rain started again. It was South Wales, after all.
In a competition where a means to success is just getting your team out it is disappointing to report that in the men’s event where five are need for a team we only managed that for three of the five fixtures while the women only managed to get a three person team out on one occasion. For those of us with longer memories of regular 2nd and even 3rd teams and the team spirit that went with it, it seems that the concept of turning out for the club team no longer chimes with the current general membership, which is particularly apparent when so many choose to do other events on cross country weekends, so maybe we should just stop trying to push it – discuss.
Nevertheless, the final fixture also saw the culmination of the club cross country championship where both Mike Willis and Angela Bushell scored the points that would make them men’s and women’s champions respectively. So, well done to both of them. Nick Langridge gained the extra point needed to clinch the men’s age related championship while Judy Mills already had enough points in the bag to become women’s age related champion.
However, when the top two in the men’s championship are an old age pensioner and a nearly old age pensioner well, let’s be honest, it doesn’t say much for the rest of you!!!
Gloucester League Race 4 – Pittville Park, Cheltenham 18 Feb 2017
Well, you could have put a small bet on it. There we were, Mike Willis, Nick Langridge and Rob Hopkins, three lonely veteran men, wondering if we were going to have a team when who appeared over the horizon but none other than Rob Watkins to save the day and ensure that not only would we at least get a team to the end of the season but also have our strongest vets team of the season.
For the women Jo, running as Emmerson again this week (all this double identity stuff is confusing me), was freshly back from Korea and declaring she was so jet lagged she didn’t know if it was morning time or evening time but it certainly wasn’t running time. But, again, she ensured that the ladies had a team.
After last week’s mud the going at Cheltenham was surprisingly firm. The course was reworked from its usual route with a few different twists and turns and different start and finish areas. Although not hilly, the slopes, uneven surfaces and stream crossing still seem to take it out of you.
In the ladies’ 6.4 K race Jo started off ahead of Angela Bushell and Judy Mills in her usual circumspect way and was particularly so at the stream crossing where she made one of the most cautious approaches ever, virtually coming to a stop as she surveyed the layout before deciding the best way to cross (apparently trying to see where to cross without succumbing to wet feet before realising it was impossible).
However, once into her stride she gained places and was significantly further up the field by the second cautious stream crossing, losing places again which she regained and more in the final half lap, finishing 51st in 31:39.
Angela, somewhat further back, was still able to hold off Judy who, still suffering from Dursley Dozen exertions was unable to repeat her victory over Angela in that race. Angela finished 99th in 35:51 while Judy was a little disappointed at 117th in 38:28 but realistic about the causes.
The ladies’ team was 28th out of 34 while the vets team was 15th out of 20. Neither team was placed in the season end standings owing to the lack of teams in the first fixture of the season.
In the men’s 9.3 K race there were a pair of similar contests. Rob Hopkins led the team off and kept his position until near the end of the first lap when Rob Watkins overtook him and pushed on to open up a gap of some 50 seconds, to finish 65th in 40:04 while Rob Hopkins was 82nd in 40:53.
Behind them, Nick led Mike from just after the start with Mike hanging on to begin with. However, towards the end of the first lap Mike picked up strength and pushed ahead to start opening a gap.
They both worked to pass a large group of runners but Mike was increasing the gap on the second lap. On the final lap Nick started to pull back again and closed the gap down but not enough to be in contention with Mike who came in 132nd in 43:54 with Nick some 40 seconds behind at 137th in 44:36.
Both had found it tough going and struggled with the challenging terrain with Mike not feeling too good and Nick feeling he’d not been able to run as well as usual although he at least had the satisfaction of finishing in front of a Dursley runner who had beaten him at Wotton.
There was no senior men’s team but the vets, as mentioned, did have a team, and a strong one, which showed in the results where they finished 8th out of 20, by far the best of the season. However, it still didn’t save them from finishing 10th out of 10 for the season although they did, of course, beat all those clubs who failed to finish a team.
The senior men did not figure in the end of season standings having failed to raise a team for two of the fixtures.
As we left Rob Hopkins correctly remarked on how cross country was the best work out you could get for running so why don’t we have more people joining in to take advantage?
Anyway, this was the last race of the Gloucester League season and usually where we celebrate or recognise the club’s achievements. However, in a league where you need a full team for each fixture to count our achievements were: Ladies’ team – didn’t finish, Ladies’ vets – didn’t finish, Men’s team – didn’t finish, Men’s vets 10th out of 10, and for the first time in living memory no individual medals were won. So, no, it’s not moaning, the facts speak for themselves, it’s comfortably our worst season ever in the Gloucester League.
There are two possibilities from here. As I heard a Hyde United supporter say recently ‘There’s nothing so bad that it can’t get even worse’ or ‘The only way is up’. So which way is it to be?
I might add that Hyde United have picked up since then – John Watt, please note.
Gwent League Race 4 – Glebelands, Newport 12th Feb 2017
So we had 21 runners at Old Down and Pete was cock a hoop at how many turned out and publicly castigated me for doubting. I remained sceptical about it transferring to a league fixture but asked you to prove me wrong. Unfortunately, you proved me right in droves as out of the 21 who turned up for a cross country where nothing was at stake when it came to the real deal and points mattered only 2 of those 21 made the effort – and one of them was me. Well done Claire Watt for being the only other one to rise to the challenge of a league fixture.
Of course, it meant that we were unable to field full teams in the either the ladies’ or men’s events. However, Claire was joined by Jo, running as Plumbley again, to make up two thirds of a ladies team and Nick Langridge was joined by Sean Underwood and the returning Anthony Yates to make up three fifths of a men’s team.
Jo showed what is really needed as having to jet off to South Korea she realised she just had time to run a 6 K cross country first, came down with Claire, ran through the heavy mud of a course for 74th in 28:52 while Claire followed in 87th in 29.25, drove back towards Thornbury, dropped Claire off at a service station somewhere near the River Severn, continued to Heathrow where she’d arranged a shower and went off to South Korea – presumably to sort out the North Koreans. Who better to deal with them?
The ladies team were 8th in Division 2 but lie 10th for the season so far, one above relegation but with some points to spare. In all teams they were 36th of 59, the vets 25th of 41, the V45 team 12th of 32 and no V55 team this time.
The ladies had already left by the time the men appeared for their 10.4 K race. We found ourselves on an open area in cold temperatures with a chilly wind blowing across and tried to keep warm. In the race itself Nick led the way as we went round a field, under the motorway, never done a cross country under a motorway before, and into an area of fields and woods where heavy sticky mud of the sort that pulls at you and draws the strength out of your legs was predominant. Back under the motorway, alongside the river and a turn back to the start fields. On the first lap Nick and Sean passed about half way along the turn back from the river and on the second lap Nick was just turning for the fields as Sean entered the river section. Nick finished 210th in 50:02 while Sean was 262nd in 53:33.
Anthony brought up the rear and wasn’t helped by his lack of spikes or studs, as he slid around in the mud, or his enforced training break. However as we watched him come round the final part of the last lap he was just holding off Kevin Jackson of Dursley who, it has to be said, had already run the Dursley Dozen in the morning, finishing 2nd V55. Suddenly Kevin started catching but then Anthony picked up again and held Kevin off to finish 307th in 62:55.
A Forest of Dean runner also completed both races.
The men’s team, amazingly, still managed to finish 7th in Division 3 and stay 7th over all. In all teams they were 62nd of 82, the vets 45th of 61, the V45 team (me) 33rd of 47 and the V55 team (me) 17th of 28 – all somewhat down on our usual positions.
The final Gwent League fixture is at Llanelli on 4th March – any chance of seeing any of those 19 others? Don’t put a bet on it.
Gloucester County Championships 7th Jan 2017
As Jim Morrison sang while fronting The Doors, “People are strange”. You get all these cross country races where we have a club team out needing points for the leagues and we’re desperate for runners. Then you get one where nothing matters and we don’t even count in the results, though they did give us positions, because it’s the wrong county championships and 21 appear from out of the woods somewhere. And that was without some of the regular league runners. Someone said it was because it was nearby but unless Wotton-under-Edge and Blaise Castle have recently been spirited away to some geographically remote location I seem to recall they were rather nearby as well!!!
Anyway, a Pete Mainstone engendered race took part at a hilly and muddy in places Old Down course. Pete went round dishing out mini-tubes of Love Hearts to everyone as a prize for taking part. There were too many to report on all the race happenings but the ladies’ 5.9K race was first off. Taryn Roberts set off quickly and took an early and commanding lead, followed by Emma Brown and then Claire Watt and Jo Williams running together. After the first lap Taryn looked like she’d had all the strength sucked out of her legs but maintained the lead. Jo started to get the better of Claire and gradually dropped her and opened a gap. Emma thundered up behind Taryn as she tired and, by the end of the third lap was close behind. At the finishing funnel Taryn gained two sneaky places as the two runners ahead went the wrong side of the tape and had to come back round. No courtesies here as Taryn held on to her place to finish 17th in 30:36. That’s the spirit and the way we like it. Emma had closed the gap to 10 seconds but wasn’t quite able to catch and finished 21st and 2nd LV35 in 30:46. Jo was only another 45 seconds behind at 24th in 31:31 with Claire 26th in 32:07.
Angela Bushell was next in at 33rd in 34:11 with Judy 35th and 2nd LV60 in 35:43. Maddie Parrott had started close to the back and gained some places, passing Kathy Watkins on the way to finish 37th in 38:06 while Kathy found it a bit too much and dropped out.
The ladies had enough for two teams and finished 6th and 9th out of 10 and in the vets teams were 5th and 8th out of 8.
Unfortunately, during the race a runner from another club had taken a bad fall resulting in a broken leg and lay on the course at a narrow part. While the ladies were spread out and able to negotiate round her it was not suitable for the start of the larger men’s race and there was a considerable delay until the runner could be safely moved.
The men were milling around waiting for something to happen. Some speculated on the race being able to be held at all, Andy Darton was getting cold having been there since morning to see son Thomas finish 11th in the boys U11 event, someone commented on the ventilation in Nick’s shoes, plenty of wear left in them yet, and just as it was reaching the point where it might be too late to finish in daylight we were hurriedly told it was about to start. Some hasty changing ensued as runners rushed to the start of the 9.2 K, 4 lap race. There was meant to be an announcement on the state of things, instead a hooter went off taking some by surprise, none more than Mike Willis who was left at the start still tying his shoe laces.
Rob Watkins and Matt Johnstone led the men with Rob holding a short but telling lead on Matt. Rob came in 32nd and 3rd V45 in 40:47 with Matt one place behind at 34th in 41:20. Andy Darton having warmed up from his long wait came in at 38th in 42:09. Simon Young then led Paul Thomas but then both had misadventures as Simon trod in a hole and twisted his ankle on the first lap and Paul ran out of steam and hurt his hip towards the end of the second lap. Both were overtaken by a few of their colleagues. Mike, having been left at the start began to power through and eventually had the satisfaction of passing nine of his colleagues to finish 44th and 2nd V60 in 44:50.
Nick Langridge was going along OK until on the third lap he heard Emma saying that Jim Williams was catching. Now, we were supposed to be into a club competition of two teams but what these were had been kept a closely guarded secret, so when Jim did go past Nick had no idea if Jim was in the same team or not so didn’t know whether to encourage him or trip him up although, it has to be said, he was much more inclined to the latter. Jim had enough to create a small gap which Nick could not close despite Emma’s shouts of “you’re not going to let him beat you”. The gap stayed the same on the fourth lap but the battle enabled both to close down a tiring Dylan Roberts who just held off Jim by 3 seconds with all 3 finishing in consecutive positions. Dylan was 47th in 45:39, Jim 48th in 45:42 and Nick 49th and 3rd V60 in 46:01. Jim was as smug as the cat that got the cream, while Emma castigated Nick for a poor showing while a watching John Watt told him he should have dipped to get under 46 minutes.
Meanwhile, Simon had recovered enough from his twisted ankle to get back in the race and pull up to 53rd in 47:30 and Paul Thomas struggled in gamely at 55th in 47:51. Steve Dimond was 62nd in 50:37, a minute ahead of Mark Williams at 64th in 51:44. Kevin Cundy and Hugh McPherson were having their own battle with Kevin just coming out on top by 4 seconds at 69th in 52:54 and Hugh 70th in 52:58.
Chris Ashworth, running for Dursley, strolled round in 72nd place in 54:11.
The men had enough for two teams and finished 5th and 7th out of 7 and, in the vets, had 3 teams finishing 4th, 8th and 10th out of 10.
As for our internal club competition, that remains a mystery as to who was on who’s team and what the outcome was. Pete went off and will undoubtedly fiddle away with the results until he reaches his desired outcome. I expect to be on the losing team.
Well, that was it. We had some fun, a good race and, although a few were good enough to finish in medal positions these will be forfeited to runners who actually qualified for Gloucestershire as we didn’t actually count for that.
Still, there are three league fixtures left in the season and so many runners, having sampled the delights of cross country and team running, and shown that they can turn up when they want to, will now no doubt be keen to represent the club at future fixtures where there actually is something at stake. We expect to see some strong teams out for the next fixture at Newport which is almost next door to Thornbury.
Now, you see all those pigs flying across the sky?
PS Please prove me wrong.
Gloucester League Race 3 – Wotton-under-Edge 17 Dec 2016
Whoa, what happened? 5 in the ladies’ team and 9 in the men’s. Wotton-under-Edge saw our best turn out for the season. With the four usual ladies all turning out at the same time and Clare Watt making a comeback this was the largest ladies’ team for some time. And with the men having two debutants in Sean Underwood and Tim Johnson and some of the Blaise returnees back for more this was also a large men’s team. We even had an extra non-running manager.
We arrived to an overcast and misty day and the muddiest course of the season that presented a good cross country route with slopes, turns, mud and even a deep ditch to navigate. The courses turned out to be shorter than advertised as, it was rumoured, one corner had to be cut out because it was too boggy for the owners to allow so many runners through it.
The ladies’ 6.5, which turned out to be nearer 5 K, was first off. After Jo, now running as Emerson, had sorted out her earrings the ladies gathered for the start. Ros Rowland set off in typically fast style and was leading the Thornbury contingent by the end of the first field but by the end of the second, Jo was already overtaking her, and a Dursley rival also went past. After Jo had opened up a comfortable gap, Ros recovered from her early burst and was able to match Jo’s pace and keep the gap the same until the end without ever closing it down. Jo came in 38th in 25:17 with Ros 53rd in 26:06.
Behind these two Clare was making a good comeback, running consistently, and keeping her place to the finish 64th in 27:02.
Angela Bushell ran her usual stalwart race for 81st in 28:18 with Judy Mills completing the team in 96th in 30:44.
Ros, having finished in a lower position than usual and outside her normal top three of her age group explained that it was all down to being bunged up and went on to describe vividly the volume and consistency of snot in her nose that had caused this. I’m so looking forward to her food on Thursday.
The ladies finished in a vastly improved team position of 14th out of 23 with the Vets team similarly improved at 8th out of 17.
The men’s 10, which turned out to be more like 8.2 K race, started with a stream of runners turning the first corner, very visible from nearer the back. For the TRC team Steve Allen, the Gwent League specialist, led us off. Rob Hopkins was next in line and, although Nick Langridge, had Rob in sight for the first lap, Rob then disappeared as he set off after Steve. The gap was closed down but was never caught as Steve finished 111th in 37:10, still a safe half minute ahead of Rob who came 123rd in 37:45. This was something of a family double for Steve as daughter Rosie had already won the U17s girls’ race. See, Steve, Gloucester League isn’t that bad – you can come again. Meanwhile, Nick, having lost Rob, was still able to pick up and close down some gaps and places in the 3rd and 4th laps to finish 145th in 39:58.
Fourth finisher for the team was Kevin Arnold at 160th in 41:47, just ahead of Sean Underwood and Steve Dimond.
Sean had started off just ahead of Steve who was running right behind him. Try as he might Steve could not make those few strides up in the first three laps but had noticed Sean slowing slightly on the slope towards the end of each lap so, on the last lap, made his charge to overtake just as Sean made an effort for the end of the race and the gap stayed tantalisingly out of reach as they finished three seconds apart in 164th and 165th places in 42:30 and 42:33.
Tim Johnson enjoyed his first outing in 174th place in 44:15 while Jerry Clothier ploughed around in 181st in 45:47.
Arthur Renshaw then came into view as TRC members rushed over to cheer him in as he finished with a flourish round the final corner to the line for 184th in 49:43 – just ahead of last time’s named position which, incidentally is like a badge of honour worn with pride by several luminaries of TRC in the past, mainly, I think, because of the previous report mentioned runner’s enthusiasm for cross country and celebrating his little victories.
Arthur was out again the following morning to lead an eleven and a half mile run while dressed as Father Christmas so well done for that.
As we changed and clothes were scattered around again, Jerry, having absconded with someone else’s t-shirt last time and lost his vest, looked around and requested that we all sew name tags into our kit in future as it used to work at school. Jerry will be carrying out an inspection at the next event.
Unfortunately, for all our enthusiasm and enjoyment, our team results, it has to be said, are pretty hopeless and we have fallen from previous glories with all the certainty of a Hyde United football team. The men’s team were 19th out of 20 and the Vets, where we had enough for two teams to count, were 13th and 16th out of, you guessed it, 16. But we are still there and still counting, sometimes.
The weekend was only spoiled by Mo Farah not finishing anywhere in the Sports Personality of the Year results. How do you explain that?
Gwent League Race 3 – Blaise Castle 3rd Dec 2016
The call to arms for our local cross country event bore fruit with the men’s team and we actually had nine runners turning out although, it has to be said, six of them were of the over 60 variety with only three youngsters (in TRC terms) where regulars Rob Hopkins and Paul Thomas were joined by Kevin Cundy but it did mean that we had enough for a second team of four. Arthur Renshaw and Steve Dimond joined the usual oldies as they made their comebacks with Hugh McPherson also giving it a go. Alas, for the women it was not so good with numbers actually dropping to two and one short of a full team.
The men arrived to find Angela Bushell and Judy Mills flush with glowingness from having just completed their 5.9 K race in the rather freezing breeze blowing along the course. The secret source reported that “Angela had begun to steadily pull away right from the start while Judy was pussy-footing-about tripping over molehills. After spending the second lap overtaking at Brecon, Judy thought she should try to go faster in lap one, and was quite pleased to see that there were a good number of runners behind her (this was her first race as a FV60 – Happy Birthday to you- though still counting as FV55 for the League).”
“Angela preferred the flatter, faster sections while Judy took advantage of less assertive runners on hills and corners. Both lost places in the finish stretch, but Angela was still way ahead finishing 184th in 30:57 against Judy’s 208th place in 32:52.”
Angela and Judy are doing a stalwart job for the club team and managed to finish 11th in Division 2 but still keeping the team 10th over all and just out of relegation. It is a club team – others are allowed to join in, you know. In all teams they were 56th out of 70, in the Vets 36th of 47, in the V45s 22nd of 35 and in the V55s 12th of 16.
Judy was able to report a very dry course with only a couple of small stretches of surface mud while at the same time still going on about how the women had put the pop up tent away at Blackbridge while the men just got changed – yes, well done. They now had the same pop up tent put up in the shelter of the edge of Cardiff AC’s big tent.
A couple of passing Dursley runners, seeing the TRC flag flying by the side of a large tent came over to see if they could gain any use from it and were a bit deflated to see that ours was the small one at the side. They were not convinced by arguments that it was in fact a Tardis tent and went elsewhere.
The men prepared for their 10 K race as start time approached by jogging around or, in Steve’s case, drinking coffee and the fashion highlight of the day was definitely revealed in Arthur’s retro-style red shorts with short being the apt word. Jerry wisely asked for advice on his clothing for the day and was persuaded that he did not need to wear longs as he would warm up in the race. Arthur, having received some wisecracks on his short attire and having felt a cold blast thereabouts quickly swept up Jerry’s longs and wore those to protect his dignity and embarrassment.
The men went over to the start and sought some warmth in the crowd. “Isn’t this what penguins do?” said Rob. Rob, Nick, Paul and Mike were together and Nick was able to see the other three disappear ahead right from the start. After the congested run through the avenue of trees along the course Nick was able to glimpse Paul and Mike together across the field as the view opened up round the head of the course. Battling into the wind, through the woods and round again Nick was able to see Paul at the same place on his own the same distance ahead on lap two. Mike had forged ahead and caught Rob but Rob responded to re-establish his lead on Mike. Meanwhile, Nick had caught right up on Paul who seemed to be struggling. Nick went past Paul on the zig-zags and thought he would leave him behind. He heard someone breathing on his shoulder and decided to pretend it was Paul just to keep himself going and make sure. Half a lap later when the person was still there Nick glanced round and saw it was Paul! What a rotten trick, pretend you are struggling then sit on the shoulder to take them at the end. Paul challenged but Nick decided the place to try and lose Paul was on the slope out of the woods where he launched himself, oh all right speeded up a bit, down the slope and gained some places and ground. It was enough to break the thread till the end.
Meanwhile Rob was coming in the TRC lead at 221st in 42:52. Mike said he was looking nervously behind a bit as he had noticed Nick gaining ground over the last lap although Nick hadn’t seen him and the gap was too big for any catching. Mike came 256th in 43:58 with Nick 276th in 45:12 and Paul a gallant 280th in 45:28.
Steve, fortified by plenty of caffeine completed the first team in 352nd place in 50:22 just holding off Kevin who led the 2nd team in 357th in 51:24 and looked as though he really enjoyed it. At least he had a healthy glow.
Jerry, unencumbered by overheating was able to catch and overtake Hugh on the third lap and, apparently, looked really good as he led a group of back markers that included some of the lapping leaders. He finished 368th in 55:02 while Hugh was 373rd in 55:45.
A few minutes later but only two places behind in 375th was Arthur lumbering up in what he called a lonely run in a brave 59:18, occupying what is traditionally known as the Mike Slade position but still added a few valuable points to his team and still had a few runners behind him.
The men’s team finished 7th in Division 3 and are 6th over all. In all teams they were 55th and the second team 88th out of 98. In the Vets they were 32nd and 58th of 66, in the V45s, 22nd and 49th of 53 and in the V55s, 4th and 23rd of 28.
People hurriedly changed as they finished and clothes were strewn about in what Jerry said looked like a jumble sale. It meant that as clothes were packed up and the nearest grabbed mistakes were made which means that I’ve got somebody’s TRC vest and somebody has my TRC Tee-shirt. Come on, own up.
Finally, we were left with the tent. Paul just grabbed it, twisted it about a bit and got the shape. Nick helped him put it in the bag and there it was, packed in a moment. But don’t tell Judy or she’ll just have another go at me.
Well done to all those who turned out and Boo Hiss to those who didn’t.
Gwent League Race 2 – Brecon 12th Nov 2016
A minimum team of 5 men met at the Scout Hut car park for the trek into wildest Wales. Unable to resist the call of his spiritual homeland, Pete Mainstone also came along to support and manage and take Jill to meet her friend. As Pete had a new route he would lead while Paul Thomas volunteered to drive the second car. Paul was itching to go ahead but had to follow on, almost losing Pete at one point but Mike Willis came to the rescue spotting them ahead, “Isn’t that Jerry in the back. Yes, that’s them, I recognise Pete’s ears.” But then sensing the presence of a subversive correspondent hurriedly added “I always said he was a good looking bloke.” (Discuss).
We arrived in decent time. Paul’s pop up tent lurked suspiciously in the boot as we gathered our kit. We decided to leave it after last week’s shenanigans and, anyway, found a spot in the little main stand that overlooks the club tents and start and finish field, just as the ladies’ race was finishing, no Thornbury vests to be seen.
As we were preparing for the race, Pete came round the stand and said our ladies’ team was on the other side. We hadn’t even realised any ladies were coming. Why were they hiding away, to avoid some commentary? You might think there was nothing then to say about the ladies’ 5.7 K race but subversive correspondents have contacts and the following information was supplied by a source that will remain nameless to protect JM from any flak:-
“Jo said we were leaving far too early and she had a bad journey, popping paracetamol. She brightened-up considerably when she bought a pair of bargain shoes from the stall. However, she didn’t want to get them dirty so wouldn’t wear them. They were black and purple by the way. And to race we all wore black shorts; Ros had no t-shirt; Jo a red one and Judy a purple one. Jo also wore unusually elaborate – for her – silver earrings.” (Thanks for the fashion update).
“Having gainfully used the hour-and-a-half we had to spare, we lined-up at the start, pleased with the mild conditions. Ros bolted off as usual; Jo started steadily as usual. Judy was somewhere at the back as usual. Ros dropped off her initial pace, Jo got into her stride and passed her. Judy was still somewhere near the back, but had a good second lap, overtaking several runners and even managing what Jo confirmed was a sprint finish, passing yet another runner just before the line.”
A little later source 2, RR, confirmed that “buying a pair of bargain trail shoes she liked gave Jo some swagger in her stride and a smile on her face, making her a different person from the one who was not feeling or looking too good at all on the journey – the power of the right retail therapy. Also that Judy had a great run, she ran her heart out even right on the end sprint finish to over take on the final run to the finish line, you guys missed that. We all ran well not letting the team down.”
Yes, they had a full team this time with Jo Plumbley finishing 58th in 27:18, Ros Rowland 76th in 28:08 and Judy Mills 176th in 33:42
In team terms they collected 410 points which gave them a good 6th place in Division 2. However, as that total didn’t change when added to the “null points” from the first fixture they are 10th out of the 11 teams so far. In all teams they were 25th out of 63, in the vets teams 14th out of 43, in the V45 teams 16th out of 32, and in the V55 teams 9th out of 14.
As for the men’s 9.4 K race there weren’t quite as many runners as at Bridgend, yet still enough for a packed start. It was thick with runners going round the start area and into the main field with the course in good condition with a soft surface but only slippy in a couple of places. Mike, making a more considered start this week, found himself running with Paul and Nick Langridge as they dodged and manoeuvred to find a way through the encompassing crowd, depending on how many were abreast in front and how wide the course was. They were still together as they went up and round the embankment for the first time, then Paul and Mike started to make a gap before Mike started to leave Paul behind as well.
Mike disappeared into the distance as all three were making up places to finish eventually in 200th place in 43:36. On the second lap Nick found himself being challenged by another runner who was giving some kind of painful and loud exhalation at the end of each breath, heard for yards around, that sounded like he was being incrementally castrated by his shorts. It was very off putting and Nick worked hard to drop him which he eventually did. Nick was able to keep Paul in view the whole race but even if he couldn’t catch him did spot him actually walking up the embankment on the third lap – tut, tut captain not so good example this week. However, it was from sheer tiredness and Mike reported seeing Paul trying to increase his pace at the end but not being able to as he finished 250th in 45:32. Nick hasn’t been able to finish with increased pace for a while but did finish, if not with a sprint, a stronger effort that held off all the later gained places bar one runner who sprinted past like it was the 100 metres for 264th in 46:19.
Further back Mike Bennewitz and Jerry Clothier were having their own battle with Mike able to hold off Jerry and make a gap of well over a minute to finish 336th in 53:06. This was partly helped by Jerry over dressing again and having to stop part way round to divest himself of his top layer and pass it to the watching Pete, dropping to 346th in 54:50. Notice: volunteer carer needed to help Jerry dress appropriately for his next race, poor old chap.
We recovered and changed in the stand then Paul, Mike and Nick left for the return. Unfettered by following Pete or having to look out for his cranial appendages, Paul whipped us home in no time as his engine went into growling over drive. Is he trying to challenge Arthur and Eddie Hawkins as fastest driver?
In the team standings all the promotions and relegations from last season have now been applied and the men are now, correctly, in division 3 but still finished an amazing 5th despite having 80% of their team in their mid 60s. In all teams they were 57th out of 92, in the vets 37th out of 70, in the V45s 15th out of 54, and in the V55s, obviously our strength, 5th out of 32. So, well done, the old gits
Mutter mutter about the days when we had no V60s in the club at all and yet put out not just a first team but B team and C team as well – all at the same fixture. What is wrong with you lot? The next two fixtures are as local as can be at Blaise Castle and Wotton-under-Edge so let’s see some more getting out and giving it a go. What fun!
Gloucester League Race 2 – Blackbridge 5 Nov 2016
A bit after the horse has bolted and all that but we did have two full teams, just – a minimum for each, with Ros Rowland back from catering duties and Paul Thomas and Jerry Clothier from injury. Kevin Arnold and Judy Mills were to be commended, both having turned out in a park run in the morning.
Blackbridge was bathed in wintry sunshine, but with a chill wind blowing across the open spaces. Fortunately, the athletes’ camp was behind a large hedge covered in attractive Autumn colours that sheltered us from the wind.
Paul arrived with a pop-up tent which he opened with a flourish and flung on to the grass, inviting everyone to use it for storage and then remarking that he didn’t know how to pack it back up again – oh oh.
The course itself was yet another reworking of short laps of the Blackbridge fields and paths in between the trees with the going as firm as could be and not a hint of mud to be seen.
Judy and Angela Bushell prepared for their 6.8 K race while muttering darkly about the comments on their attire from the previous report and proceeded to show off what they were wearing for today as if it was some kind of fashion show. Both chose black, knee length tights, Judy’s with a light blue flash while Angela preferred light blue piping. Both wore t-shirts under running vests. Angela chose warmth with a long sleeved white one while Judy was more hardy with a short sleeved blue one. Ros then joined in by showing that both her and Angela were wearing identical spiked shoes. Angela eventually won the day by adding a pair of very cool looking sunglasses, sure to help her running.
OK, enough of the rubbish. As for the race, 2 short laps and 2 long, Ros made a good start in a group behind the leaders and maintained a consistent pace all the way round, gradually increasing the distance ahead of a Dursley rival and also beating another category rival who is usually ahead of her. She came in strongly at the end to finish 60th in 31:01 and 3rd LV50 and well pleased with her performance.
Angela and Judy started off further back but clear of the final groups. Both made steady progress on each lap, with Angela opening a gap on Judy to increase the margin from the first fixture – see, the sunglasses did work, although Judy blamed the lack of hills for catching Angela on. Angela finished well for 111th in 34:24.
Judy was more steady at 130th in 37:00.
The ladies’ team finished a creditable 30th out of 40 and in the Vets teams were 17th out of 29.
In the men’s 9 K race, 2 short and 3 long laps, the fashion was varied with Jerry going for the full tights and long sleeved t-shirt under vest, Paul also chose to protect legs with tights but just a vest, while Mike Willis, Nick Langridge and Anthony Yates chose t-shirt under vest with proper shorts while Kevin was the only one to brave all with just vest and shorts. As for the race, Mike took the start fast and hang on option. It seemed to work as he was well ahead of the rest of us and said that he only tired in the last lap where he lost some ground to those ahead but, fortunately, not much in places, finishing 137th in 36:35 and 2nd MV60. Paul and Nick started off more circumspectly, out of necessity, and found themselves running together after the initial rush. They picked up some places together but it wasn’t until the end of the first lap that Paul started to pull ahead. Paul gradually increased the advantage while Nick himself spent the race picking up places through the race, only being disappointed at having caught up a long way on a fading runner ahead just before the finish, the fading runner decided to sprint and took the place back. Nick finished to see Paul in prone position on the grass, heaving his chest and exhausted from the effort – good example from the captain. Paul was 175th in 38:27 and Nick 181st in 39:22.
Anthony took a careful start as well, then picked up pace and found himself gaining on Kevin. He wasn’t quite able to catch Kevin and dropped back a bit as Kevin paced himself for the finish. Kevin was 204th in 42:08 and Anthony 210th in 43:00 but nearly 3 minutes closer to Kevin than the first fixture so the improvement is on its way.
Jerry started off more with the back markers and found himself already being lapped on his second lap. With what was, effectively, 5 laps there was plenty of opportunity for lapping which the Thornbury team took full advantage of with everybody being lapped at least once. On the plus side the first 3 Thornbury runners also achieved some lapping themselves in passing the very back markers. Jerry finished looking very flushed in 222nd in 47:30 and declared that, in reflection, he had worn too much.
The men’s team were 23rd and last in the team event but at least we troubled the scorers to work out a position. In the Vets teams we did at least beat one team coming 19th out of 20.
The final piece of entertainment was in putting away Paul’s tent that he didn’t know how to pack up. It had to be trouble.
Several people joined in with helpful opinions and experience but it was all a bit of “too many cooks”. So, the men, still changing, left the ladies to it. It ended up with Angela reading out various instructions to Ros and Judy who tried to carry out said instructions. Bend point A over to end C, twist B so it lands on edge G and fold over to D. The tent twisted, sprung back and jumped all over the place. Where’s Jim Williams when you need him? After several minutes of all-in wrestling it seemed to submit and a shape was achieved that was hurriedly pushed into the tent bag. We left one of the last teams with the men deciding that the ladies wouldn’t be troubling the Krypton Factor anytime soon on that form.
Gwent League Race 1 – Bridgend 16th Oct 2016
The Sunday fixture of the double header turned out better for the men but a disaster for the ladies. Ashley Hodgetts, who hasn’t been able to run for us for a while happened to be in South Wales and came over to add some cross country training to his preparations for European and World Triathlon Championships – see, that’s what you need to do well. Steve Allen was supporting daughter Rosie so was available to run and, add to that three old blokes in their mid 60s, which seems to be the best Thornbury can do these days, and we actually had the team of five needed for the Gwent League.
As for the women’s team they were completely invisible as not a single runner made themselves available. So, it looks like they’ve given up before they’ve even started.
At least Pete was pleased as the sun actually shone in Wales, we missed the rain, and the course was in good shape, being as dry as it’s likely to be in Bridgend with comfortable going most of the way with just a bit of surface mud round ‘the hill’ near the end of each lap.
The ladies 6.6 K race was first off but as there was no Thornbury interest in it among the 311 runners, your correspondent has nothing to say about it.
In the men’s 10.15 K race the numbers were so many, with nearly 500 starting, that the first turn was congested on the inside. Mike Willis became a little stuck here while Nick Langridge cruised past (if he ever cruises these days) on the outside. Both had started a bit too far back really and, although Nick was gaining lots of places Mike was going even better and caught up to Nick and sneaked past on the inside when he thought Nick wasn’t looking as they went along the football pitches towards the ‘the hill’ where there was further congestion and a little queue in the narrow part of the woods on the first part of ‘the hill’. After that, it spaced out and we could run freely.
Meanwhile, up ahead, Ashley was surprised to see Steve overtake him as he ran at a training pace but responded to reassert himself at the front of the Thornbury runners to finish 231st in 44:30 while Steve came 250th in 45:06
Nick was still making good progress in gaining lots of places but was then disappointed to lose four spots in the final finishing circuit to runners he had previously overtaken, something to do with younger legs being able to sprint at the end, and was 353rd in 48:43. Mike had continued to gain even more places to finish comfortably ahead in 300th in 46:47.
Meanwhile the aforementioned Pete Mainstone enjoyed his stroll around Bridgend in the unusually fine Welsh weather to finish 456th in 57:52. Indeed, it was a good day for running and one of the better events at Bridgend.
The men’s team finished 60th out of 114 while in the divisions we showed as 11th in Division 2 out of the 12 teams. This was somewhat surprising as we were shown as relegated last season but, looking through the divisions for the reason, it seems that no teams have been relegated or promoted at all from last season so maybe someone forgot to apply it in the results. In the V35 teams Thornbury finished 44th out of 79, in the V45 teams 20th out of 55 and in the V55 teams 8th out of 33.
In the ladies’ teams, Thornbury are bottom of everything with ‘null points’.
Gloucester League Race 1 – Little Rissington 15 Oct 2016
A new season, a new course and a wonderfully rural Cotswold sunny day brought out crowds of runners for the first Gloucester League fixture of the season, from everywhere all over the South West and the Midlands except, of course, for some reason, Thornbury. There were so many running on this course that we had to be warned about negotiating the tight first corner as not so many runners were expected. There were 25 men’s and 37 women’s teams in the races but, alas, Thornbury were not among them with only the men’s vets having a quorum. The men almost had a team but Captain Paul contrived to strain his back as he bent to tie his shoe lace as the team met in Thornbury and had to return home and there was no back up. It was rather like falling at the first fence of the Grand National, stalling at start the of a F1 Grand Prix, or dropping the baton at the start of a relay – out before you’ve even started, in terms of the teams where you need a full complement for each race to count for the season.
The course itself was on Manor Farm which is owned by a couple who run for Bourton RR and wound round fields, down one side, up to the top, down to a valley, along and up most of the far side, along and up to the top by trees, then back down to the start. It was a long lap for cross country and required only two circuits for the men’s 9.33 K race.
The ladies’ 6.17 K race was first off with Angela Bushell and Judy Mills looking like they were going for a stroll in the sun, keeping on tights and T-shirt, and jogging off at the back. Nevertheless, both got into it and plenty of sweat (or is that glowingness) was shed by the end as Angela held off Judy for 124th place in 35:14 while Judy was 130th in 35:48 with Judy only complaining about a marshal encouraging her with ‘nearly at the top’ when there was still another slope to negotiate.
In the men’s 9.33 K race the first tight corner was negotiated reasonably well as runners found their place around the turns of the first field. Nick Langridge had Rob Hopkins in view for a while, then Rob shed off the efforts of the Cotswold Way 103 miler, found his cross country legs and pulled away for 129th place in 40:03, declaring afterwards that it was ‘no trouble’.
Nick took one of his GWR rivals early on and held off another till half way round the second lap. He was looking forward to gaining on the hills but found that younger, bouncier legs swept past on the first lap. He maintained an even split for the second lap and came in 169th in 42:16.
There wasn’t much between the final three runners in terms of places with Kevin Arnold 220th in 49:06, Mike Bennewitz 224th in 51:51 and Anthony Yates 228th in 52:48. It was Mike’s first cross country which he declared he had very much enjoyed while Anthony wanted to use cross countries to improve throughout the season. On the positive side, Anthony has left himself plenty of opportunity to improve – and he will.
We were able to change and leave before the rain came.
There was only one team result with the men’s veteran team coming 22nd out of 23. Yes, all right, that’s not very good but at least we were there. Thornbury are a lot better than that but when people just refuse to become involved, bucking the trend for the increased popularity of cross country, then that’s what happens.
And for those of you who enjoy off road running in wonderful scenery on what everyone thought was a great new course, then you missed a treat of an event.