First Herefordshire XC League Race Forest Fields 15th October 2017


It now seems a long time back when we started the season at this venue and absolutely dominated the opposition to take our first steps towards a compelling men’s team victory in the Series. We were well down on such a performance this year, being 5th in the men’s race and 6th in the women’s. However, this marks a significant step up from last season when we barely scraped a male foursome and had no female team.. This time, we had two men’s teams as well as a women’s. Just a pity we were missing a number of our top performers though there is time to claw our way up the table with four fixtures to go, beginning at Croft on November 12th.

Under fine autumn skies, with a light breeze, the women’s team was led home, over this demanding, but always interesting course, by Amy Smith (10th out of 72) who has been trying to coach her old dad into a bit of form over the summer. She was superbly backed by Kerry, fresh from a fantastic low 1..46 clocking in the Cardiff Half, in 19th and 2nd V35. Like the returning Becky, making her comeback after illness to register an impressive 42nd, she wasn’t an admirer of the course. But neither looks too unhappy in the photos already on Facebook, do they (unlike some of the men!) ?

But the tough course, with getting on for 1000 ft of climb in the 6 + miles,nicely softened by Welsh rain, suited our first two men down (or should it be up?) to the ground: the new streamlined Matt had a great run in 3rd out of 118 while Mike Link, who has been training in wellies and flip-flops and by running up and down ladders, showed his legendary hill strength by finishing 17th and 3rd V45, just getting his nose in front of speedy young Ross crossing the line in a very fine 19th and 1st U20. Sadly these three had to wait for Steve to close the team in 46th and 2nd V65.

Just behind was new signing Jake Underhill who medalled impressively in the summer County Track Champs, but found his searing pace compromised on the wet, hilly terrain. The same was probably true of another debutant, ex 400m hurdler, Ben Skinner in 62nd. Ben has his sights set on a marathon next and I’m sure we’ll see him and Jake moving up the field as the season progresses. Kev’s race (69th) was, he complained, “ruined by duff pre-race information. I was told it was pretty flat so I brought my speed legs which proved totally unsuitable after a fiery start.” But didn’t he notice all the hills above the campsite? “Of course, bloomin’ did,” he said, “but I thought they were just scenery. When it comes down to it, I suppose I haven’t adjusted from all me summer track work. Whatever the scenery, track circuits are lovely and flat, mostly, except for the steeplechase barriers.”

It was great to have Neil Lewis back on the comeback trail, finishing 112th. He is trying to return to racing shape and what dedication……he finished his first shift on the farm at 9.0 a.m. and was then back on duty at 2.0 p.m. after the race. That is triathlon in the true sense of the word! Not far behind was a third new recruit, Dave Cameron in 115th. Dave is making a return to running, no doubt inspired by his son Ross’ brilliant progress and wife, Karen’s encouragement. Neil and Dave are another two I tip to be moving up the field soon. Keep the training going, boys. The next course (Croft Nov 12th) is pancake flat. According to Kev.