With the heavy rainfall in the week prior to this years Muddy Woody the race title certainly lived up to it’s name. Despite the race organisers having to edit a fraction of the pre planned course and to advise alternative directions to access Haugh Woods the event was never in doubt of cancellation.
The race had sold out in record time, the 350 entry limit was full by early December, a testament to the increasing profile of the event. Previous race winners, winter league contenders and award winners of all categories, this years Croc8 winner, the Worcester Beacon winner, MudRunner:IceBreaker competitors who had only just scrubbed the mud off their bikes and legs from the week before, club runners, people looking for a challenge all stood together on the start line.
The Couriers contingent, was Steve H, Gerry, Tim, Luke, Matt, Mike and I.
A relatively controlled start to the race, saw a leading group take to the first muddy hill together, Mike of Brecon AC pushed on as the descent began and almost (and not comically in anyway, promise!) overshot a tight right turn having to duck underneath the red and white taping. Along the lengthy flowing hard track, a runner in black, from the home club, took to the front speeding up and slowing down before the next ascent, I knew what was happening, but wasn’t getting drawn into anything. I was content and comfortable. The front was relatively tight with only a small gap breaking the top 5 or so, by the time we hit the stream crossing the 5 remained together. James Richards, Jon Pullen, Tim Iverson, Mike P and I dug deep as we approached the infamous steep bank. Expecting the attack to arrive at any moment, Tim and I were slightly taken back when the lead runner struggled for grip and began to stride out, we tactically followed suit, before a natural gap appeared as we began to contour around Bear Wood, I had unintentionally found myself in front.
Slipping and sliding back to the stream crossing and hitting the hard track climb, I was encouraged and cheered on by club mates Steve and Gerry, friends and strangers. An approaching 4×4 pulled over, shouting me on and a louder shout for the second runner closing me down added to my motivation (and I was pretty damn psyched up as it was). We entered the wooded single track together, the same track Jon Pullen and I had battled on 2 years previous when I recorded my maiden race victory, more motivation, I cast my mind back to how I felt 2 years ago, the strange feeling of leading a race and entering unknown territory. This race was different, the attacks didn’t happen, only natural gaps breaking the now top 4, each grinding out their own rhythm through the bog as our legs fatigued from ups, downs and sludge. The woods parted, 0.75 miles left, the gaps dividing us were only seconds, Mike P had taken the runner in black and was now in 2nd, with a quick glance back and opening my stride on the final descent I knew a second MW6 title was bagged.
Results can be found here (via the wye valley site) http://www.wyevalleyrunners.co.uk/storage/Muddy%20Woody%202014.html
Vest biter and former MW6 Champ, Matt James got the better of old rival Jon Newey (Worcs Beacon Winner) while Captain Fantastic Mike Link mustered a 12th place struggling with the illness that dogged him at Presteigne. Another former MW6 Champ, Tim crossed the line in 15th, pleased having duelled with a struggling Jon Mansfield (Croc8 Winner) throughout while battling an cold induced by an anonymous team mate (!), Luke James finished in a respectable 28th on the toughest Muddy Woody course I’ve experienced. The not so fashion conscious, Chairman Kipper, wearing limited edition white Hurtle socks, glided over the mud into 56th, while Gerry (who looked rather happy when I saw him on course) came home in 83rd just over the one hour mark.
Another brilliant race from Wye Valley, the donuts, the course, the donuts, the organisation and the extremely well planned sunny weather!
I’m not sure why it means so much to win this race, maybe it’s the measure of peoples success, the demanding course, that it was the event I took my first win, the competition, that Dad has won this before, I just don’t know! The magic of the Muddy Woody lives on and should never be under valued.
Don’t forget the club AGM, presentations and bowling this Sunday, 7pm at TGS!