On the remote Welsh hills above Hay, with panoramic views of the Brecons and the Blacks, the Hotfooters have devised a magnificent 10K course continually rising and falling, largely on beautifully sheep-manicured pasture. With fine refreshments and a starter who, if not the finest stand-up comedian on the circuit, is undoubtedly the best standing up on a trigpoint, this race is deservedly becoming ever more popular, with 226 finishing this time round.
It was warm and somewhat breezy on Sunday with underfoot conditions reflecting the heavy rainfall of the previous few days. Nonetheless there were some impressive times recorded, with the winner Austin Davies of Brecon registering 36.48. The fact that he is nearly 50 should not detract from the mark achieved since this guy, as a V45, has won 4 consecutive Home Countries International X-C Championships.
But Couriers performed well too. Matt, steadily regaining his form of old, was a solid 7th in 39.41, clear of the old master, John Pullen. There was no Eliot unfortunately, but Tim did a good impression of the son and heir, coming home a very fine 13th in 41.39 to carry off the V55 award by some minutes. Dave, finding a new lease of life now that the marathon beckons was first V50, finishing 19th in 43.44 with the Kipper 1st V65, 47th in 47.01.
Two other Couriers, whom older members may remember, were also running. Dick Wall’s vest still bore the creases of having lain folded in the wardrobe for a number of years and his body also bore some witness to a certain period of inaction as he gamely battled the hills, sweltering in the heat and coming home 97th in 54.10. The other “Red from the Dead” was Max who usually only ventures out of the Forest at night. Considering his lack of running, let alone racing, he performed very creditably, 2nd V50 behind Dave, in 28th, clocking 44.45. But he was somewhat spooked by the lack of trees.
” I prefer running under the canopy,” expanded the man from the Forest of Dean, “and, usually, halfway round a run, I try to mount one of the wild boars. It saves on the legs and, besides I’m entered for the Cinderford Rodeo in August. Today the only bore I saw was the Club Chairman.”
Some onlookers were taken aback to see Mr Suff, on completing the race, continue running up to the Roundabout of trees where we had started, to throw himself headlong amidst the shadows into the beechmast.
“He feels more at home there,” said Dick, “I expect he’s looking for acorns.”