The sodden woods of Presteigne were the setting on Sunday for Couriers’ first League title for six long, miserable years. With Eliot again overall champ and Matt a superb second, we dominated the Series, winning four of the five fixtures. In addition to these two stars, we had strong backup with Mike, Luke and Rich Hughes consistently in the upper echelons. But the depth of the squad is probably best illustrated by the ‘B’ Team’s achievement in taking overall first spot in that division. As well as the scorers at Presteigne, Tim Taylor on his welcome return to League combat, Russ and Jon Griffiths all put in some fine performances during the winter. Again, the high number of individual award winners indicates the overall heat of our red power.

We were fortunate to catch Presteigne between deluges on race morning but the underfoot conditions featured mud by the bucketload and several water sumps anything up to a foot deep. But this did not stop Eliot having perhaps his finest run of the season, two minutes quicker than last year and only 21 seconds down on winner Jonny Pugh who knew at the finish he’d been in a dogfight. Matt raced to a super 4th place, generating enough heat to discard his vest rather than have a chew on it. Only just recovering from illness that had stopped him training properly since the last fixture, Mike put in his normal

gutsy performance in 12th just holding off Luke [13th], dependable as ever, by 10 seconds, these two clinching the team win after our unexpected reverse in the last race.

Close on their heels, Dima, who had also been ill, had a very fine run in 16th to captain the winning ‘B’ Team on the day, supported by Dave, demonstrating his strength in 21st, Geoff gliding through the field to notch 28th and Steve 30th. It was only after about five miles of the seven that Geoff caught the latter and no sooner had he opened a gap of 20 metres, than a deer put in an appearance, presumably believing that he had spotted one of his own. For a moment I thought I was seeing double, that fine red livery, the light and graceful tread, the effortless speed and the magnificent branching antlers [I think the wind must have ruffled Geoff’s hair] but then I remembered the fate of poor Tom Davies who had dared tangle with a member of the species [deer, not Kay] in this very wood and had not brought home the venison.

We didn’t quite have a ‘C’ team but with Jon, extremely under-trained after his Link-induced injuries, in 34th, Neil, still digesting Christmas in 40th and Kev, experimenting with motorised mud-spitting caterpillar tread round a horseshoe device in 48th, the Courier presence could not be denied.

With poor Bev still out injured, Andrea again was our sole female representative and yet once more battled undaunted through the morass for a creditable 34th.

A sackful of Series medals, as indicated above, found its way home to the Courier vaults: Eliot [1st SM], Matt [2nd SM], Dima [1st JM], Mike [2nd V40], Neil [3rd V45], Dave [2nd V50], Geoff [2nd V60], Steve [1st V65] and, in her very first season, Andrea [2nd V50].

I am now at liberty to reveal the final standings in the male and female Courier winter competitions:

1st Eliot
2nd Matt
3rd Mike

1st Andrea
2nd Bev

The awards to be presented at the AGM on Sunday 23rd Feb 7.0 pm.