Over the course of a normal weekend it is not unusual to see members of Tewkesbury Running Club travelling all over the region in search of a race to run and last Saturday was no exception. The venue on this occasion was Warwick University near Kenilworth for the final leg of the Gloucestershire XC League 2015/16 season.
With the winning places still up for grabs in the club's unofficial Winter Off-Road Series, the top contenders made the long trip up the A46 to Warwickshire eager to cement their positions in the final standings and gage their prospects for next season's inaugural Off Road Championship.
In windy yet dry conditions, the athletes were to complete numerous large laps around the sports fields surrounding the university grounds which included the all too familiar boggy patches, a long winding uphill track and a fast downhill section which passed underneath cheering crowds watching from the balcony of the nearby pavilion.
As usual the ladies were first off with Carol Cowley and Karen Maber renewing their XC rivalry which has been raging all season and unsurprisingly it is these two runners who have the best chance of walking away with the prestigious "Lady of the Land" title.
True to form Carol made the early running but the insanely boggy terrain was beginning to take its toll not only on the veteran athlete but also the rest of the field. However, despite Karen's best efforts she was unable to catch her rival and finished agonisingly close behind the XC stalwart who finished the 7km course in 36th place in a time of 37:14 to claim top spot in the LV65+ category. Karen's efforts resulted in a pleasing 48th place in 39:39.
Next to the men with Steve Maber and Wes Reid tackling the 10km course with vastly differing fortunes. Steve made the tough conditions look ridiculously easy and took to the muddy terrain with aplomb. Despite a very competitive field the Off-Road Series leader battled bravely to finish in 80th place in a time of 46:50.
Wes meanwhile was finding the going a lot tougher and in the absence of any decent XC footwear was forced to make his way slowly through the precarious boggy sections of the course. This resulted in the club XC captain regretfully pulling out of the race with only 2 of the 3 requisite laps completed.
After about 10 minutes of sulking and moaning about the mud it was pointed out that Wes was not last in the race and that another runner had just started his final lap. No doubt feeling shameful at pulling out so hastily, Wes re-joined the race and after catching the octogenarian over taker proceeded to tackle the mud strewn course with increased vigour and finally finished the final lap to come 128th in 1:20:27.
In actual fact, given that he had stopped for 10 minutes, Wes was pleased with his run which meant he had technically finished a tough 10k in approx. 1 hour and 10 minutes!
The 12th event in the Off-Road Series is the Severn AC 4km XC Race at Plock Court on Saturday 19th March. After that the final three races will be the best results from the Tewkesbury, Newent & Plock Court Park Runs. More details to follow...