The Mill Race posted by Martyn
I have not written a race report for some time - partly because I don't do as many races these days and, when I do, I am much further from the action than I used to be. Having said that, I had a flying start to this race until we reached the turn into the hill after 50 yards and normal service was resumed. After a few minutes, I had exchanged a friendly cough with Tina and most of the ten Hotfooters had disappeared. Sara Lake was still in sight though - so I thought, don't start walking until she does. About four miles of climbing later, Sara hadn't walked and my baby steps were getting smaller and my nose ever closer to the tarmac. Near the top, I spotted Andrew Merriman and thought I must be doing OK, until I realised I had to do full lap of the common to get where he was.
The organisers had arranged for beautiful weather and spectacular views and also a welcoming party of a large flock of sheep and some excitable collies near the top of the common. Just after this, Sara walked briefly - praise be! Andrew Price was doing a splendid job as a marshal at the top and I apologise to him for my insult to him not being anatomically correct.The descent was, not surprisingly, mostly downhill with some picturesque, but very painful, slight climbs through woodlands.
Having completed the course, I can see how well the team did. Gazelle Boy was first HH home in 1.21, with a rapidly improving Andrew Merriman clocking !.25. Addy Carter was the star of the day, coming in as the overall winner in the lady's race in a brilliant 1.26. I have a small bet placed with William Hill that she will catch the Gazelle, over a shorter distance, within 12 months.
Billy Jope has emerged from his winter hibernation period and strolled to a cool 1.29. on his HH debut. Sharon L (aka The Shazanator) totally boshed it in 1.34, - especially good since it was about her twentieth race of the week.
A resurgent Imme (the Dresden Dynamo) was just a couple of minutes behind. Sharon Collins is definitely one to watch , surprising herself with a 1.40, closely followed by Sara and, not so closely by myself and Tina ,who knocked six minutes off her last years time
I must give a special mention to Ned Collins, by far the youngest runner in the race, who completed this difficult course in !.41.
Not to forget Claire and Sue who were the first walkers home and Mark for his support.
This was a brilliant event, clearly way marked with friendly marshals and water stations in the middle of nowhere. If I am still able to maintain forward motion, I will return next year .
SHOBDON WOOD (5-5-19)
Addy, Captain Tina, Susannah (minus her butler), Shazza and Gazelle Boy bravely took part in this 5.2 mile off road course.
The last hill climbs for about one and a half miles but at least you get a glorious descent to the finish line through the amazing bluebell wood.
Before the start Susannah was adamant that it should be classed as “challenging” rather than the usual “undulating”. We were all in agreement as the combined ascent is a bigger total than some fell races!
157 runners finished which was an epic with 4 new course records being set.
The Gazelle was the first Hotfooter back in 27th place and finishing 3rd in his age category, as did Tina. Shazza deserves a special mention for being chatted up during the race by a handsome gentleman called Gary, no doubt she will receive a special award for this when the end of season trophies are presented!
Addy won a trophy for being the first female junior but was also 4th lady overall, her highest finishing place to date.
Ludlow fielded a massive contingent of runners. Their ladies team absolutely smashed it with their top three females coming in 1st, 3rd and 5th. Clearly they will be a force to be reckoned with in the forthcoming summer cross-country. Time for us Hotfooters to fly off to our high altitude training camp!
SUGAR LOAF FELL RACE (6-4-19)
Whilst some Hotfooters were improving their map reading skills on Bethan’s navigation course Emily, Shazza, Lucy, Martin and Addy decided that this cheeky 7 mile fell race would be an excellent day out. After all, what could be more fun than 4 gruelling uphill miles to reach the summit of Sugar Loaf mountain before charging back to Abergavenny?
The free bottle of ale for every finisher attracted a field of over 100 runners. Martin was first back in 1hr 07mins, Addy next at 1hr 12mins and third in Shazza at 1hr 16mins.
Sadly poor Lucy and Emily got lost, went seriously off course, ran through snow and finished in just under 2 hours. (No doubt they will both sign up for the next navigation course to avoid a repeat occurrence!)
Addy was the first Under 23yr old and won a magnificent jar of the finest Monmouthshire honey.
As we all know, proper nutrition is the key to every elite runner. And so it was that some Hotfooters, whose identities will be kept secret to avoid accusations of gluttony, refuelled with the following food items in a nearby cafe...
Apparently cakes have less calories after races. A superb way to end the day!!!
LLANBEDR TO BLAENAVON FELL RACE
(30TH March 2019)
A hard Category A fell race over 15.8 miles, incorporating the 3 summits of Crug Mawr,
Sugar Loaf and the Blorenge.
To take part you have to be fit, very determined or simply suffering from delusional optimism. It was a hot day, no breeze and only 1 drink station so the Gazelle, Bethan and Bethan’s OMM partner
“Salty Rachel” thought they would give it a go. (For the record, Salty Rachel is not a pirate but the name comes from her highly unusual technique of replacing lost salt on long runs)
The drive to the start included a high-brow discussion on whether if you were absolutely soaking wet after a race, and had no towel, whether it was acceptable to sit in a car naked to dry off. Such a moral dilemma!
Salty Rachel and Bethan had an usual warm-up technique which consisted of who could do the longest headstand. The Gazelle simply stood back and watched in awe of their gymnastic prowess.
The Gazelle was first back in just over 3 hours, finishing 39th. He smashed his time from last year but was even more chuffed to claim a great scalp by finally beating Bethan.
However, in Bethan’s defence....
1. She loyally stuck with Salty Rachel, and
2. They missed a checkpoint and lost time by having to go back. (Any Hotfooters booked on her navigation course should not panic and start checking the refund policy. Apparently all great navigators “deliberately” go off route so they can practice their reorientation)
A special mention needs to be said for the support offered by other Hotfooters. Johnny Whippet left work early to be at the top of the Blorenge with his five star picnic. His encouraging words of “shift your butt, it’s a running race not a walk” were deeply motivational. In addition to this, Sarah drove all the way to the finish so she could cheer us over the line and provide a lift back to Llandbedr. Great time support which was much appreciated.
THE “WOLF’S PIT” FELL RACE (17-3-19)
With such an inviting name, how could anyone resist this race?
The Gazelle was up for it and so was the Whippet until he was seduced by watching Wales win the Grand Slam.
Addy decided to take part as well. However, as she had always been jealous of the Brilley Boyz’ nicknames, she decided to call herself “Cheetara” due to her excellent sprint finish.(Hotfooters of a certain age will remember this character from the iconic TV series
So the question was......could Cheetara and Gazelle bust up a wolf?
They were both hoping for a lovely 5.6 miles in the picturesque Peak District, as were the other 398 competitors. Nobody seemed bothered by the howling wind, the snow on the summits or the 1,259ft climb during the first mile.
The Gazelle was convinced that his daughter
would be tired from her championship race the previous day but, true to her name, she sprinted off from the very beginning. What then followed was an epic struggle with the lead changing several times. The Gazelle kept forging ahead on the climbs only to be caught on the very steep descents.
The slightly uphill finish was the only thing that saved the Gazelle’s pride and
self-esteem as he crossed the line a mere 20 seconds in front. He subsequently retreated once more into his daughter’s shadow as she was the 11th female overall and the 1st U23 female runner! She received a splendid prize of £10 and a box of the Peak
District’s finest ale.
ENGLISH SCHOOLS AND COLLEGES NATIONAL X-COUNTRY CHAMPIONSHIPS
If you’re a student and run really well in the county championships and then do equally well in the districts you can earn the “joy” of competing in the National X-Country
And so it was that on the 16th March, Addy discarded her Hotfooters vest and joined the Hereford and Worcestershire Senior Girls Team for 4.1KM in the historic landscaped estate of Temple Newsam Park, near Leeds.
For an off road race it was very spectator friendly with the organisers managing to pack 6 hard climbs into the route. In addition to this there was mud, wind and rain plus some extremely competitive athletes who train specifically over this distance. With 45 counties each sending their best athletes it certainly was an extensive and talented field.
The winner crossed the finishing line in a stunning time of less than 15 minutes. For her first time of running in this age category Addy was very pleased to beat nearly a hundred of her fellow competitors.
RHAYADER ROUND THE LAKES (2-3-19)
If you want to win a medal and a bright yellow t-shirt then this is the race for you. It’s in a lovely part of the world with stunning scenery and only 19 very hilly miles. It’s also important to gloss over the driving rain and 50MPH head winds.
And so it was that on the 2nd March Paul Tree, Will, JJ and the Gazelle had a day out in Rhayader.
The first 3 miles were lovely, the next 16 were somewhat undulating. However, the Mars Bars and Jelly Babies available at the water stations were much appreciated.
At 17 miles the organisers threw in one last steep climb to finish your legs off completely.
The Gazelle came in at 2 hours and 37 minutes, JJ at 2 hours 46, Will at 3 hours and 1, and Paul crossing the line in 3 hours and 5 minutes.
These fine athletes were supported by another Hotfooter, Paul Smith, who drove all the way out there to cheer them on. Some of you might think this was a nice gesture but he would have been a lot nicer if he’d worn one of their numbers and offered to run the last 6 miles for them.
The day was somewhat tarnished when Will insisted at stopping off at the
Co-op on the way home to buy himself some cans of Guinness.
He had offered to buy the Gazelle a Toffee Crisp but sadly it turned out to be a broken promise!
There were 8 Hotfooters at Muddy Woody this year. The usual crew of Alan Harry, Alan Nichols, Captain Tina and Martyn Rosser eagerly arrived for the start only to find the second car full of runners including Martin and Addy Carter and Liz hadn’t arrived due to John Price aka Whippets’ questionable navigational skills. Luckily the team weren’t hindered by the journey and embarked on a very muddy, wet, and slightly bloody race with full force. All participants ran extremely well with Addy Carter winning the 1st Place Junior Prize. Martyn Carter also won the prize for eating the most donuts post race. Overall the standard ran by all was superb and a great day was had by all.
LONG MYND VALLEYS (10/2/19)
Anyone who loves fell running has probably read “Feet In The Clouds” by Richard Askwith. Chapter four describes his performance in the Long Mynd which ends with him...
“collapsing in a moaning heap. No one remarks on this. There are moaning heaps all around.”
Great words, that pretty much sum up this fell race. Eleven miles which end with three extremely brutal hills where simply moving forward is an achievement in itself.
Gazelle Boy was the only Hotfooter foolish enough to enter. However, one should always be wary of races where
1. Are classed as a Category A
2. Require a pre-qualifying race
3. Email hypothermia warnings the night before, and
4. Have a route map that looks like the contour lines are simply a block of orange!
The car park was freezing and the clearly visible snow on the hilltops did not promise tropical temperatures. On a positive note, the Gazelle did not have to worry about carrying all his compulsory kit. Instead, he chose to wear his hat, gloves, spare fleece and waterproof body cover!
He was 5 minutes quicker than the last time he ran it, but a sub 2 hours and 30 minutes eluded him. Sadly, he will have to return!
CROSS COUNTRY CHAMPIONSHIPS
On Saturday 19th January, Addy was forced to temporarily discard her Hay Hotfooters running vest as she was competing in the Hereford and Worcester Schools’ Athletics Association Cross- Country Championships.
She had previously come first in the Hereford county trials but was now up against some stiff competition.
Two days before the race, Jodie Newell had given the Hotfooters a presentation on pre and post-race strategies. Addy took the decision to put these top tips into practice.
She sufficiently hydrated 24 hours before, had a good night’s sleep and raised her heartbeat prior to the start. However, there looked to be some serious other runners and there was a danger of pre-race nerves kicking in. It was at this point that Addy called upon another of Jodie’ tips.....positive visualisation.
It was a fast 4K race but with grit and determination Addy made her way through the field to eventually finish third. She gained a splendid medal and qualified for the National Championships in March.
Her success was celebrated with an organic chocolate milk drink but sadly she was led astray by the large cake bought by her dad!
Llangorse Fell Race
On Sunday 13th January the infamous “car of truth” left Brilley with Johnny Whippet, Martin and Addy. On route they picked up Sarah and headed for Llangorse, whilst keeping a close eye on the dark clouds that were gathering on the horizon.
Their time in the car was used wisely. Rather than discussing the route or wasting energy on pre-race nerves they discovered that Sarah has a very low opinion of people who dye their hair and is a strong advocate of introducing an additional swimwear category to the age categories that already currently exist in fell races!
At Llangorse they were joined by Tom and Will and there was much enthusiasm.
The start was uphill, followed by an uphill section and then some more uphill.
Tom took an early lead closely followed by a chasing pack of Martin, Will and Addy. As they neared the summit the mist became even thicker and poor Tom made a navigation error costing him precious seconds.
The last mile was pure adrenaline, charging recklessly downhill. Martin was the first Hotfooter back but he has given Addy far too many descending top tips and she was mere seconds behind him.
This was the first fell race that Tom, Will and Sarah had ever competed in and all performed excellently.
Poor Johnny had to contend with the weather steaming up his glasses. Rather than carry them and risk a fall he simply stuffed them down the front of his shorts and sniffed his way back to the finish line like a true Whippet.
Not only was Addy first in the U23 section but she was second lady overall, bringing further fame and glory to the Hotfooters.
Her success was celebrated by scoffing the free chips that were on offer after the race.
HEREFORD 10K - 1ST JANUARY 2019
Despite some tired legs from the Talgarth race on New Years Eve, four intrepid Hotfooters rocked up for the Hereford 10k organised by Wye Valley Runners.
Martin C, Tina, Addy and Alan H joined a cast of over 200 runners to begin 2019 on a positive note.
Martin was first back in under 44 minutes with Addy crossing the line in under 46 minutes. Tina smashed her time from last year with Alan just over the hour.
As Addy had out sprinted Martin the previous evening he was happy that a small measure of his self-esteem had been restored. Although it was Addy that gained glory for the club by winning the junior age category.
However, the real star of the day was a gentleman who pushed a young lady in a wheelchair around the course and wasn’t much over 50 minutes. Truly inspirational and very worthy of the applause they both received.
(Posted by “Gazelle Boy”)