A REPORT ON THE FIRST TWO SUMMER OFF-ROAD LEAGUE RACES at Westhope 14/6/17 and High Vinnals 28/6/17.

Plenty of light blue, plenty of dark blue, funny shades of green and khaki, even a splash of fluorescent yellow (sorely needed in the woods at Vinnals) but hardly a streak of red. Really, the sunsets this summer are a huge disappointment.

But rather than adopt dear old Pete Seeger’s elegiac tone, I propose saluting those discerning Couriers who availed themselves of the rare delight of racing in the wonderful fields, orchards, hills and woods of Herefordshire on courses which draw athletes from many miles around (141 at Westhope, 158 at Vinnals.)

Dave Williams, 1st V55 in 20th and 28th respectively, Mike Link, 27th and a stonking 12th at Vinnals, Tracy, racing for the first time in almost a year and finding herself well adrift of her normal placing in 98th and 118th and Kipper, 1st V65 in 42nd and 65th (ouch!) may not be fresh out of the youth squad, but they know a good race when they see one and fully endorse the mighty Kev’s (76th at Westhope) dictum that, if nothing else, these outings provide conditioning par excellence. Poor Kev was too shocked by the pasting he took at Sheryl’s (54th) hands in the first fixture to join us at Vinnals and complained, besides, that his Offa’s Dyke 15 had failed to clear the achilles injury he has been carrying. Besides these old stagers, it was great to have three Courier debs in these two fixtures: Jim Smith had a fine run at Westhope, on a course beautifully prepared by Clive and his team for Couriers, outsprinting Sheryl for 53rd (“If only I’d done that”, said Kev) while David Green was just behind in an impressive 57th. Fiona Murdy, almost certainly the only Courier who has ever conquered the classic Comrades Marathon (53+ miles) in South Africa, appropriately chose the tough Vinnals circuit for her league baptism in 152nd. At Westhope, our depleted resources had the boost of an appearance from Chris Cleary, who turned out for a brave 48th after a hard race the night before.

Well done to all who raced and thanks to organisers, notably Clive and Mike Blenkinsop for making these events so enjoyable.

Onward to Merv’s farm in beautiful Abbey Dore. for fixture 3, 12/7/17. “It’s not flat,” Clive says. But will it be Pete Seeger again or Simply Red?

Steve Herington