Athletics: Thornbury runners brave Brecon conditions

Gazette Series: (4051954) (4051954)

THE fourth race in the Gwent Cross Country League was held at Penlan Leisure Centre, Brecon.

Thornbury Running Club members made the journey through the rain, noting that snow had settled on the hilltops.

The course itself is around playing fields; quite flat, but already very muddy from the recent weather and from having been used as the venue for the Welsh Schools Championships the previous week.

The wind was bitter with driving icy rain as the ladies started their race. Almost every footstep met waterlogged grass or inches of mud, and the gusts were enough to blow runners off course or stop them in their tracks, though never noticeably behind them to assist.

The conditions did not suit Ros Rowland, whose strengths are speed and endurance, but she still easily beat her team-mates to come 61st overall in 26:20. Nicky Davies followed in 87th place, in 28:21, with Judy Mills 108th in 29:52, both running strongly.

Elly Pyne, making only her second appearance at cross country for the club, fell over, got back up and battled on to finish 137th in 37:35.

If at all possible, the weather and course had worsened when the men took their turn.

Andi Davies was again the first to finish, 66th in 39:58.

Conditions suited strong man Rob Hopkins, who came 75th in 40:39.

In the early stages of the race Mike Willis lost the sole of his spikes, so with no traction on one foot, did remarkably well to finish at all, let alone 179th in 50:35, and still in front of the other club over-60s, Jerry Clothier (191st, 54:52), and Pete Mainstone (195th, 56:03).

In the under-15 girls race, Rosie Allen, daughter of Thornbury's Steve Allen, had a great run to finish second.

In addition, the Davies youngsters, running for Brecon AC, were making their mark as always, Luke Davies winning the under-13 boys race by 20 seconds, and Heidi the under-17 girls race by almost two minutes.

Both now lead their respective age groups in the league, having also taken bronze (Luke) and silver (Heidi) in the Welsh Schools championships the week previous.

Both Luke and Heidi were in action again on Saturday at the Welsh Cross Country Championships at Dinefwr Park, Llandeilo.

Luke went straight into the lead and was unchallenged, winning gold and leading the under-13 Brecon AC to a team gold.

Heidi has just moved into the U17 age group, and easily won gold, only just beaten by an U20 girl in the combined race.

Meanwhile parkrunners were met with strong winds and showers.

Four Thornbury members made it to Little Stoke where conditions were not conducive to personal best times.

In a stronger-than-usual field, Garry Slater finished 22nd in 19:23 ahead of Kevin Arnold. 36th in 21:10.

Daniel Harding was a first timer, 38th in 21:24, and Hugh McPherson again first in his age category, 56th in 23:13.

As parkrun grows in strength, new events spring up like saplings.

With runs being held at Pomphrey Hill and at Chipping Sodbury as from this Saturday, it was time for a dry run this week, and both John Francksen (timekeeping) and Judy Mills (running) tested the system at The Ridings at Sodbury.

The course is on a good surface and mostly flat, but inevitably wet in places, and should be a good Saturday morning 5k for Thornbury runners who live in the vicinity or who want a change from Little Stoke.

Thornbury Running Club meet at 7pm on Thursday evenings at Thornbury Leisure Centre.

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