Why is the Croft Castle course like a full body scan? Because it tells you things about your poor old body that you didn’t know before! So, if you’ve just done an Ironman, had a year [or in certain cases, a dozen years] out without racing, if you’ve come back from an exotic holiday with a bug or you are just returning from injury and, in all these cases, tell yourself that Croft will be simply another race, your printout is liable to tell another story.
But it certainly wasn’t only Couriers who underwent this unpleasant procedure on Sunday.There were many more drop-outs and unexpectedly below-par runs than usual from other clubs. And, it has to be said, all our athletes, no matter how bad they felt, gritted their incisors/dentures and made it across the finish line! What’s more, both men’s and women’s teams registered an improvement on the first fixture: the men taking second [ahead of summer champs,Croft] and the women fourth. In addition, the men’s second foursome notched first B team whereas at Castlemorton, we only had seven runners in total.
But, perhaps most pleasing of all, some Couriers seemed to respond to the ordeal as if they’d received a hefty shot of adrenaline, none more so than Rich Hughes who, thanks to family and coach, had been brought to the theatre of truth by a subtle blend of threat and bribery. Now remember, this is a man who will step on to tarmac even when he is directed to run on fine greensward. Recall too that the word ‘mileage’ means nothing to him [although the order ‘sprint’ and ‘lift that bloody monster’ are part of his daily lexicon]. And yet, surprising himself perhaps more than anyone, what do we see but him gliding through the mud, powering up the heavy hills and gaining places on each lap to finish a superlative 6th, ahead of that tough old boot, Cliff Berry. Then there was Mike Link, an athlete largely composed of mud and flint, not far behind in an excellent 10th. Skipper Dave Williams whose racing togs have been gathering dust in the cupboard under the stairs since August, kicked away the cobwebs to float past a jaded Eliot suffering from a holiday-induced condition, the two of them completing the A Team in 16th and 17th. Neil ran a well-judged race in 26th with Herington 30th, passing Ironman Luke  in the closing stages when his legs had turned to tin. Geoff, wearing his 58 years like a long woolly scarf, was close behind in 35th, getting the better of joint course record-holder, Russell James  whose body was not thanking him at the finish for a return, after more than a decade, to scenes of former glory. But this man WILL be back, bank on it! Next in was Mark Worthing striding out in 52nd well clear of Kev, returning from his Zumba injury but questioned by stewards in this race for excessive use of the whip in 68th.
For the women, Alison had her usual strong run in 7th, one place in front of Sally Bliss who is racing superbly considering her lack of training. Sally Worthing had plenty of runners behind her and her 39th closed the team.