Not sure if Skirrid achieved a record entry for a winter hill series race,
but Registration guru Karen Elvers complained of RSI in filling out 137 labels for the results board.
Whether it was the clement weather conditions, getting out of Christmas shopping, guilt from
over-eating at office Christmas parties, avoidance of relatives, or just simply because they
fancied a run up a hill, we are indebted to all of you who turned up and raced and made the
event such a success.
The early birds who registered benefitted from the free bears being handed out. Apologies
to those that assumed free ‘bears’ was a typo and that they would enjoy a pleasant
post-race alcoholic beverage. We assumed 100 chocolate mini-bears would be plenty.
However race director Mr Creber’s heavy duty Facebook advertising, race leafleting
and general bullying campaign resulted in this number being surpassed – so 37 went
bearless. We apologise. We hope you got some free chips in the pub.
The landlord also reported RSI, chopping potatoes to produce enough chips to
satiate numerous ravenous runners.
After a 450m warm up trot from the pub to the start, Andy bellowed the countdown
to the start and they were off – running around in circles round a muddy field.
The intention of this seemingly pointless exercise was to disperse the field and
avoid lengthy queues at styles later on. A wise move. However, with the volume
of runners, inevitably queues formed and the competitive, ambitious and impatient
debated with themselves over the moral quandary of queue-jumping. Some went for
it, and suffered the verbal wrath of those dutifully waiting in line. Obviously
queue-jumping is ethically dubious – however, I went for it, gained a couple of
places, and promptly lost them and more when the righteous overtook me in a steam
of fury – thus proving the law of karma.
Soon the fields and styles ran out and it was time to prove your mettle. The climb
to the saddle loomed menacingly ahead – to run, walk or crawl? I think most did a
mixture of all three, apart from the likes of race supremo/winner Paul Murrin – who
clearly is not mortal. After friendly encouragement from saddle marshal Rob Beves,
it was ‘over the top’ and a plunge into the dark, rocky, muddy abyss on the other side.
This short(ish) technical section was a great opportunity for those with talent
in matters of descent to showcase their abilities. It was also a great opportunity
for those with no talent in matters of descent to showcase their inelegance and
incompetence. I fall into the latter category. Now, for the final, brutal, near
vertical climb to the summit. It wasn’t so much hands-on-knees, as hands on sheep-poo,
grasping at clumps of grass to heave your Christmas party excesses up the hill.
At last, the trig point – all the hard work done – apart from the evil, direct,
heather-bashing, mud-sliding, tree-dodging descent. Once this had been negotiated,
runners emerged bloodied and battle-hardened ready to take the final fields by storm.
A real sprint now to the finish – just giving it as much welly as your screaming quads
and calves could muster until crossing that finish line – elated, exhausted and quite
frankly, ready for free chips.
A special congratulations to MV70 Syd Wheeler who, despite his better judgement, braved
the Skirrid as it was Chepstow Harriers’ club championship. He’s so enthused, he’s now
going to take on the Kymin fell race in January – go Syd!
Both male and female course records were broken. Congratulations to overall winner,
Paul Murrin from Chepstow Harriers for smashing the course in 30 minutes and 6 seconds,
and to Katie Beecher who also smashed the female course record (previously held by me –
I’m not bitter…) in 34:42 – fantastic results!
A titanic, gargantuan, Herculean thank you to all our fabulous marshals and helpers,
without which the race could not have been staged. These were Karen Elvers, Gill Stott,
Andy Stott, Rob Beves, Steve Herrington, Laurie Carter, Di and Christine Vorres,
Maria Anthony, Rob Brown, Paul Dodd, Dick Finch, John Chidlow.
Apologies to Paul and Beverley Tucker who were missing from the provisional results.
I believe this was due to the race numbers not being clearly visible, although
it may have been the short-sightedness of the finish marshals – whatever, we humbly
beg forgiveness. We also retract previous references to eternal Skirrid ghost curses,
yellow vested banditry and any other scurrilous and unfounded rumours.
By Niki Morgan (hard pressed personal assistant of Mr A Creber)
Prize Winners were:
1st Man: Paul Murrin M40 Chepstow Harriers 30.05
2nd Man: Ciaran Lewis M23 Cardiff AAC 30.48
3rd Man: Andrew Stephens M40 Monross Trailblazers 30.59
1st MV40: Daniel Hooper Sarn Helen 31.24
1st MV50: Paul Jeggo Springfield 34.28
1st MV60: Mike Murphy Les Croupiers 39.00
1st Female: Katie Beecher Les Croupiers 34.41
2nd Female: Emma Bayliss Mynydd Du 38.05
3rd Female: Niki Morgan F40 Mynydd Du 38.14
1st FV40: Vanessa Lawson Chepstow Harriers 41.13
1st FV50: Ruth Pickvance Les Croupiers 42.11
1st FV60: Joc Dodd Chepstow Harriers 46.40
Chepstow Harriers: Paul Murrin, James Blore, Matthew Lawson
Mynydd Du: Emma Bayliss, Niki Morgan, Sasha Habgood