What a turn-around from the last fixture when we achieved a team worst of 4th place! On a remarkably tough course, the splendid creation of the Pacers, in cold and wet conditions, Couriers ‘A’ team came out top of the pile while the ‘B’ team were third behind Wye Valley but clear of Croft who tend to be something of a warm weather outfit.
We finished with 9 athletes in the top 20, a stunning display and what a sight to see the Welsh hillsides painted scarlet! All credit to our two new boys, Luke James, who finished a fantastic 5th after a belting start and Richie Bamford who showed enormous potential in 19th. He was disappointed with his run but, for one thing, did not have ideal shoes and,for another, is quite unused to the sort of test he faced at Presteigne. The only way for this lad is up! It is certain that these two will in time be stiff competition for Eliot who himself has made something of a breakthrough this season, finishing 3rd in this event after a couple of very heavy weekends lately [see elsewhere on blog for details.]
3rd and 4th for Couriers were our two mid-life men, Max and Rich Hughes who battled hammer and tongs in this ultra-strong O45 category throughout the race, igniting brushwood as they went, to finish respectively in quite amazing 7th and 8th positions. Max wondered how his rival was able to run at such speed when his stride length seemed not much greater than that of a mouse. The answer is not that he has 4 legs.
Leading the ‘B’ team home was the consistent Mike Link in another splendid 10th place. It is astounding that he has had time to train given his duties as Club negotiator and athletes’ agent. Next in were Russell [14th] who has had a highly successful comeback year after a decade and more in the living room and certain other Hereford venues and Neil [17th] who himself is beginning to recapture some of the form of his halcyon years.
Leading the ‘C’ team rump home came the svelte and polished Geoff, sharp as a draughtman’s pencil. Needing to beat his M55 rival, the former champ and top fell-runner, Mick Ligema, for the overall Series honours, he set off at his usual measured pace, wearing his 59 years like a lace bandana, allowing Mick to establish a substantial lead before coolly reeling him in at around 4 miles and going on to register the victory [20th overall] by an obscene 2 and a half minutes. This was probably his best ever performance and when asked by the waiting press to account for it, he replied,
” Well, you could put it down to 3 factors. First, training with the fast young lads on club nights, second, the work I do out at my warm weather low altitude Cairo training base…”
” The wife took it into her head to de-alcoholise my nightly 3 pints of scrumpy, that might have helped.”
Completing the male Couriers’ output were Compo in 28th and Kev in 42nd, a bit miffed that, for [other people’s] safety, he was kept away from the River Knill.
Once again our only female representative was Ali, who once more had a fine race to come 6th, just 4 minutes behind the talented young winner, Clara Evans.
Time now then to look to the summer when we will definitely need our female forces as the sun brings out the Crofties.
SERIES AWARD WINNERS [4 races to count]
Finally, on behalf of all Couriers, thanks to Mike Blenkinsop, Tony Williams and our own Clive Rowberry for putting on yet another great, immaculately organised series. Thanks too for the fine courses provided by our friends and rivals at the other clubs.