The Inaugural [or revived] Skirrid Fell Race and afters 22/12/12

Wye Valley thwarted
What a canny move for Secretary Rowberry to announce in advance on Facebook that our Christmas ‘do’ after the race would be held at the Pandy when of course we were all planning to repair to the Carpenters for a lavish banquet! Clive’s astute realpolitik ensured that Phil Butler and his hungry posse of Wye Valley would-be gatecrashers never got a sniff even of the hors d’oeuvres. Interesting that Mr Butler appeared as a Courier in the results! The lengths some people will go to for a free meal! Well, hope you and the crew enjoyed yourselves at the Pandy, Phil. They sometimes have crisps there, I’m told.
Incidentally, my fellow Couriers who left me all alone without a lift home at close of play at the Carpenters will no doubt be amused to hear that, having exhausted my wad buying numerous rounds of drinks, I was unable to secure a bed for the night and ‘slept’ [though that is not the word] in what the Landlord termed ‘the deep cellar’ [more properly, rats’ enclosure] rising at 4.30 to run/stagger the 8 miles home. Thanks, guys!
But enough social news, what of the race? Run in blustery conditions, wet underfoot, especially in the start and finish field sections, Andy Creber’s wicked little creation was only 3.6 miles long but, with 1,476 feet of climb, including, after the initial steep stony descent, a hands and knees, tufts of grass-grabbing near vertical ascent to the summit, followed by the main greasy drop back down to the fields, was admirably suited to the sort of northern goat which thrives in Cumbria and indeed was won by a young guy from Harrogate [which I do know is in Yorkshire.] With an impressive field of 88 people who evidently couldn’t think of a better excuse to get out of last minute Christmas shopping, Couriers had two in the top 10, Eliot, christening his brand new Talons [which he took to the banquet in a drawstring velvet bag chained to his waist] leading the way in a fine 5th with Mike just two places behind. In all, we had 11 Couriers [12 if you count Mr Butler] 12.5 % of the field [or 13.5 % to the nearest Butler.] Such a magnificent turnout was clearly in no way related to the free banquet that followed.
Max out-descended Neil, no mean feat, in 13th but was pipped to 1st over 50, though it remains close in the Series. In the brutal over 60’s, Steve L went off like a leveret, was hauled in by the judicious Herington before the 1st descent, but reasserted his dominance before the last rise. However, he lost out narrowly to the resurgent Neil Grant of Chepstow [whom they had both beaten on the Sugarloaf] though maintains his respectable lead in the Series. The cruel and unnatural training regime devised by Max for Richard seems to be having some benefits amidst all the verbal and physical torture [no, don’t ask] as Rich came down the hillside like an avalanche, bowling clear of Herington.
At this point, a very necessary point of accuracy needs to be addressed, since without this quality, these reviews would be frankly useless. The correction in question relates to a time before Max’s training of Richard took on its more sinister aspect. In the report of the Sugarloaf, your correspondent, erroneously and unforgivably, claimed that Richard had beaten both Kev and Clive when he had done nothing of the sort, quite the contrary. My apologies to those to whom this mistake has given grave offence and fomented sulphorous rancour.
However, without fear of contradiction I assert that Rich beat both Clive and Kev on the Skirrid. Kev was running light following the arduous course of intense ballet he has recently undergone at St Peter’s on medical advice and lacked bulk on the descent. Clive on the other hand flew downhill, breezing past Kev like a low-flying osprey. Even so, he was passed near the finish by Naomi Prosser, a downhill specialist. Two thoroughbreds found the going difficult: Dave Williams who insisted on wearing his trusty old slippers [the missus had apparently promised him a new pair for Christmas]; and Clara, fresh from a 37m 10K, who climbed well but does not enjoy coming down. Maybe not wise of these two to have adopted the descending “skills” outlined in the ” Herington Manual of Downhill Running [with or without Zimmer frame] “.
I’m glad to record that Nigel thoroughly enjoyed his day out, to the point of circling the summit two or three times more than required. ” I thought I saw a Peregrine,” he said when he at last arrived at the valley floor to be greeted by the one remaining frozen and testy timekeeper.
As I am not contractually obliged to report on Phil Butler’s performance, I will perhaps leave him to pore over the results sheet, which he will find in the Public Bar of The Pandy Inn, or should that be The Carpenters Arms?
Happy New Year to all Couriers and to those who sometimes sail under her colours!