On a chilly morning, on the toughest course in the Series, Eliot swept to victory in commanding style, having recovered from the virus that had affected his performance at Monkhall. He made light work of the hills and claggy conditions, breaking clear from Tim Iveson before halfway and coming home untroubled, two seconds faster than the previous year when the course was significantly drier.
Second Courier home was Mike, who had a magnificent run in 5th, his highest ever placing I believe, relishing the demanding course and lopping a cool two minutes off his previous year’s performance. He gave it his all to beat his V40 Series rival, Simon Norwood, but missed out by less than 20 seconds at the finish. Third man back was the consistent Russell in 15th, tuning up nicely for what may be some speedy outings on the road and track in the months ahead. Certainly his dash in and out of the showers when he heard that Mr Littlewood was also heading in that direction caused a few heads to turn as he flew by, jostling and buffeting more sedate Sunday Leisure Centre users.
Poor Luke had a very disappointing run, well down on his usual showing back in 24th, another victim of one of this season’s unpleasant viruses. Dave Williams in 33rd was also below par with a cold but it was good of him to humour Herington [35th] with the tantalising promise of a nice “young” scalp. The aforementioned Littlewood, triumphant on the short fells this winter, coped better with the distance than he had feared in 42nd. But do spare a thought for Geoff who has had a miserable season, turned inside out by illness and injury. Having just about got over the virus that spoiled his Christmas, he came into this race with a hamstring injury, only to damage his calf in the race when he gave in to his competitive urges. All credit to him for limping round the second half of the course in 55th, holding Kev [56th] at bay despite the gassy flames emitted by the latter as they came to the line.
Sadly, with Bev sidelined by illness, we had no women representing the Couriers. However, there was in the men’s event, a ghost runner, a man in black with an apparently effortless
silky style, who carved his way through the field. This was his first race for getting on for 10 years but he looked as if he’d never been away. A former multiple winner of these League races, he never took the Series title because of illness, injury and work commitments. However, when Eliot went up to receive his Series victory award, there could be no happier person present than father Tim who had spent the morning following in his son’s muddy footsteps.
Memo to Eliot: Summer Series, get the old boy into a red vest and deliver him to the start line. We need him!
As for the Winter Series Awards, apart from Eliot’s overall success, Couriers were well-represented in, what shall we call it, the younger to older middle age sections. Mike Link took silver in the V40’s, missing out on gold by the less than 20 seconds mentioned above; Dave Williams dominated the V50’s [gold]; Geoff Kay, despite all his tribulations,defended his V55 title; and in the V60’s our two Steves, Heringwood and Littleton were 1st and 2nd. [Incidentally what are they doing to poor old Harry in the photo below? There could be repercussions]. Bev was 4th V40 woman and could well have snatched a medal if she’d been able to race at Presteigne.
On the subject of medals, Clive’s party game of handing out the wrong-coloured county medals to eveyone and then asking them to find the right ones lent a welcome buzz and animation to proceedings.
Finally, congratulations to Eliot and Bev, winners respectively of the Woodford Green Cup and the John Norton Trophy for their efforts throughout the winter. Mike takes silver and Russell bronze in the former competition while Jayne and Julie do the same in the latter. Presentations to be made at the AGM on Sunday 24th February, 7.0 pm.