Featured as the club’s 12th championship event, the Woodcester Park run could also feature as the toughest this season. All off-road, all under the trees and all undulating, it’s a quality 8 mile challenge. Billed as ‘not for the faint-hearted’, the course is a real roller-coaster and void of any safety nets!
Starting from the edge of the National Trust maintained park, a fine group of Tewkesbury runners flew down the first dip on the ride; tough course ace Chris Goscomb led the masses with John Gundy and Jon Mansfield within screaming distance of each other. Mark Parker blazed a trail ahead of Russell Steele before the intriguing trio of Carly Merriman, Sharon Peters and Rachel Brownett followed.
With 24 hours of rainfall included in the entry price, the terrain was damp and muddy for most. Add the tree roots, branches and the addition of half a dozen logs inconveniently placed along the route, the runners were set-up for a fall. Thankfully, with the exception of Jon cracking his toe on a said log the TRC runners remained unscathed (remembering Ben Reid curtailing his year after falling victim in 2015).
From the trio of girls, Sharon emerged from the wood to climb final 100 meters first. Having little love for off-road races, she produced a fine performance to state her claim as the frontrunner in the clubs championship.
In contrast, Rachel is a tough course lover and that proved as she managed to take advantage of Carly; Carly negotiated the course in ‘road shoes’ and although she proved her fitness by cutting-off nearly two minutes from her 2015 finish time, she had to run extra smartly to stay on track.
Arguably the closest finish of the day was between Mark and Russ. Mark, who spent most of the race flying past Russell on the descents before losing ground on the climbs, could only watch as his club mate zipped by with the finish line in sight. Taking nothing away from Mark, his performance at Woodchester was impressive and to seriously challenge Russell, who himself has found good form, was little short of remarkable.