A beautiful spring day at the Dare Valley Country Park in Aberdare was the occasion for the last race of the winter [8/3/14] and, following the afternoon’s exertions, an informal prizegiving saw Steve Littlewood line up with other category winners in the Series, all resplendent in their glowing yellow victory T shirts for a photo which may be viewed on the WFRA website. Casual he may appear in the picture, a quiet smile of satisfaction playing on his noble mien, washed and scrubbed after an inordinately long shower, the throbbing jaundice of his magnificent upper body tempered by the workaday plainness of the close-fitting Levis, but such insouciance belies the man’s achievement in carrying off the V60 crown for a second successive year.

He came into the final race having won all seven of the preceding fixtures and defeated some highly motivated and nimble Welsh opponents. He excelled on the Sugarloaf back in October and just before Christmas on the Skirrid took ample revenge for the defeat inflicted the previous year by the formidable Grant of Chepstow. In the Hammer last month, he trailed another rival, Dai Smout at the summit by some 50 metres but swept past him to what in the end was a comfortable victory.

After a long tour of South Wales, necessitated by lightly publicised roadworks, he arrived at Dare Valley with his driver shortly before the start, somewhat concerned that the course lacked the rigour that would allow him to exercise his normal domination. Perfection being his perennial aspiration, to register eight out of eight was his goal on this bright but breezy day. Sad to say, the bitter apothegm that there is always one, in this case, always one rat in the larder, proved to be the case on this occasion. And the identity of the rat? Herington, of course! Having beaten him four times, the Champ found himself 70 metres down after the long steady drag to the summit but, putting on the afterburners, caught Spindleshanks at the foot of the descent. But there still remained three quarters of a mile of undulating soggy cross country and, on this, Herington was able to slip away and put 30 seconds into his rival. A rat indeed!

As last year, Herington took second in the Series to Littlewood but Couriers also supplied two other doughty competitors in the V60’s, the irrepressible Martyn Peters who raced seven out of the eight fixtures, in the last being towed by his speedy hound, and Clive, who having braved the appalling conditions of Craig yr Allt after illness, promptly injured his knee on a City kerb and was forestalled in his efforts to complete the necessary minimum five fixtures. Some younger Couriers did dip their toes into the fray, including the fifty-something year old Suff, but you really need maturity to take on the winter mountains. Give it a few years, lads…and lasses!


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