Winter Cross Country – Race 2: Croft Castle 9/11/14

Reds show strength in current squad as stars emerge..

On a day of reflection Couriers were without their ghost running captain (or maybe he was there, it was so foggy!) Mike Link, marathon man Dave “Turbo” Williams and the injured Kipper. Despite key absences it was great to see Tim Taylor and Neil Lewis making their returns for their first race of the series and Alison Cooke back in the red vest, just a shame she couldn’t be joined by the injury hit Bev and Cheryl who turned into supporters on the common. Having not been put off by the climbing at Builth Ty made his Croft debut with just 4 hours sleep the night before and Dima who was celebrating his 19th birthday.

Dima was not the only one to celebrate as Croft turned 30 this year! To mark the occasion, a tree planting ceremony preceded the race with Brian Davies laying the seeds. Brian has been running around Croft for the last 30 years which is incredible and a marvellous achievement, it’s just a shame Mike Blenkinsop hasn’t told him to stop yet! Introduced at the start were the gentlemen who hold the quickest times on the course, Croft Ambrey’s Mick Ligema and Couriers’ own Russell James just 6 seconds a drift.

Croft provided it’s usual frantic start with everyone panicking about getting squeezed into the water before finding position on the climb up the common. With Matt glued onto the shoulder of rival Andrew Stephens of Monross TB, I adopted the same tactic, unfortunately the shoulder I was following was ‘the man with the dragon tattoo’ Tim Davies! Former British fell running champion and still running internationally for Wales, Tim upped the pace immediately and instinctively I followed curious to see how long I would last and soon a considerable gap had developed between us and the field. Tim descended seriously fast on a course unknown to him but was able recover before ‘Heart Break Hill’ and starting the next lap, I had to descend hard to keep with him, the difference was that I wasn’t recovering before the next hill making the decisive difference. Tim’s winning margin was 1m 06s (it’s worth mentioning he raced 10 mile the day before!), my gamble to go with Tim almost backfired in the last lap as Tim Iverson had been gradually closing down on me finishing just 13s behind me in 3rd.

An even tighter battle had commenced as Matt and Andrew Stephens clocked identical times but it was Andrew who took 4th making it 1-1 in their private rivalry. Richard Hughes finished in 13th place in 53:33 with his second fastest time at Croft, even faster than 20 years ago! Russell was 3 places behind and rounded off the winning Couriers team. With a full strength squad at Dinedor there will be some healthy competition for a first team spot with Mike and Dave set to return. Dima who managed a 19th place on his 19th birthday will certainly be intention on a course favouring speed over climbing as well as Tim, who suffered on the day and tussled with Tim Davies’ dad Edward. No abroad training camps could help Geoff who eloquently skipped over the mud of Croft back in 53rd with Neil Lewis in 63rd. Everyone’s favourite red, Kevin (77th) showed Ty “that’s the worst thing I’ve ever done” Brown (83rd) how to descend by winning the award for ‘Quickest sector down the mud bank’ and consequently been responsible for the stricken tree laying in everyone’s path at the bottom. Put it this way, I didn’t notice it on the first lap!

In a highly competitive womens race, solo representative Alison finished in 14th and 2nd V50.

So well done Couriers and onwards to Dinedor!

On a final note, it was reassuring to see Steve Littlewood after temporarily “loosing his balls” in the freezing Snowman Triathlon, only to lose them again by not racing at Croft!



On 21st September 2014 Eliot, Tim and Steve Littlewood competed in the Sandman Triathlon, highlights of this race will be aired on Channel 4 on 22nd November at 0735! A week later at the same time highlights for the Snowman Triathlon, featuring Steve will also be aired.