The inaugural Clwydian Sheeptracks was held Sunday 25th February on a bright sunny but ever-so-chilly day. 73 runners turned up to start with 69 finishing the course (though 4 missed at least 1 checkpoint). The ground was mainly frozen hard though lower down it loosened up later on in the sun.
The two clear stars of the day were Champion Ram – Neil Talbott (Ambleside) 2:28:50 & Champion Ewe – Hayley Evans (Buckley) 3:08:53 [10th overall]. No one could get close to them.
In the mens categories Matthew Fortes (Eryri) [2nd overall 1st O40] tried to hold onto Neil the best he could, managing to hold a 3 minute gap from CP5 to CP8 before falling away finishing 10 minutes behind. Andrew Jackson (Bowland) [3rd overall 2nd O40] steadily plugged away at Michael Corrales (Unattached) [4th] from 2 minutes behind at CP5 to pass on the final section. Shout out also to Simon Ellis (Chester Tri) [7th overall 1st O50] who was the 4th fastest runner between CP5 & CP12 passing 4 runners, Jack Agnew (Mercia) [11th overall 1st U23] with a great showing (I owe you a prize) and Chris Wilcox (Buckley) [1st O60]. Oh yes next time winners when I say beer or wine – take the whole bag of beer not just one bottle (though saying that the marshals did appreciate the left overs).
In the ladies categories we had 11 runners overall. Sarah Harley (Unattached) [2nd lady 24th overall] had a good run coming in with the first main pack. Rowena Browne (Unattached) [3rd lady 1st O50] came in with the second main pack. O40 category went to Claire Cobley (Saddleworth) [4th lady] .
There was no official team award this year but we had a good spread from Mid through North Wales and Mid through North West England. Buckley nominally won with Denbigh Harriers a close second and then Saddleworth from further afield.
One of the main elements I tried to build into the race was the route choice available between several of the checkpoints. These choices were never meant to be race winners or losers in their individual right – usually only having a couple of minutes between them. Some of these favoured the more local runners who were able to run some recce’s on them in the preceding weeks. The other great feature of a traversing race over undulating terrain is that you only need a minute or two’s gap to lose sight of the runner infront so this again meant some handy map work was required – though I noted there was some serious tactical play going on further back with several packs running together all the way up to CP12 before stretching their legs over the 2 final kickers of CP15 & CP16.
Next years race (can’t believe I am writing that) will NOT be over the same course – though it is likely to have a few similar legs – maybe in reverse..?
The usual teething problems with a new race to learn from: gazebo taking flight into the farmers field during registration, me being delayed getting CP6 & CP7 out onto the hill (only just made CP7 before Neil came crashing down the hill towards it), CP14 going AWOL during the previous 24 hours, frozen fingers trying to write control codes….. hopefully if you come back next year we will have tidied up a few of these 😉
Thanks as always to all the helpers, cake bakers & marshals from NEWSAR who as always did a sterling job (and managed a little actual ‘no duff’ job during the race without anyone noticing).
So I was looking for novel trophies for the new race and came across a pair of brass sheep on fleabay. You know the kind of thing your nan (or nain if you’re welsh) would have had on the fire hearth. So skimming thro I came across 2 identical pairs, one pair for £15 and one pair for $469.99 (circa $600 including import tax) from Detroit. So guess which pair I went for….?
So either I got a great bargain or the person trying to pass these off as Victorian antiques from the US is full of BS. Either way these are soon to placed with pride next to someones 42″ plasma screen or else shoved under their bed……
Numbers were down for the race as the unpleasant weather the day before seemed to keep a few people in bed. After a few showers first thing, the skies cleared nicely for the race start and it remained dry all day. I expected a soggy slow race but shows what I know with new course records for male & female being set. The strong wind helped to dry the course and the gusts across the tops kept the runners cool and usually tucked in behind someone else!
The men’s race saw an early lead pack of 4 runners develop of 2015 winner Stephen Skates (Prestatyn), Neil Northop (Dark Peak), Lawrence Eccles (Penny Lane Striders) & Michael Corrales (North Wales Road Runners). Stephen & Neil stretched out a small gap and a two-horsed race developed. Neil led into the bottom of Stony Gully (CP7), over the top of Moel Famau (CP8) and down the north spur (CP9) and looked odds on for the win. Either Stephen was holding something back or his local knowledge paid off down the last descent onto the track where he finished in a new record time of 76m35 (20 seconds ahead of Neil who also broke the old record). Lawrence had pushed out a gap on the chasing pack to finish 3rd in 78m57. Behind the leaders, Michael was battling with the Mercia runners Huw Davies & Ollie Parry just pipping Huw on the line for 4th place with Ollie finishing 6th.
Buckley Runners came home winning the O40, O50 & O70 categories with Jez Brown (7th), Steve Toogood (23rd) & John Morris respectively. Stephen Morran (Bolton AC) won the O60 category. U23 winner was Alex Staniforth (West Cheshire AC).
The ladies race was more straightforward with the top order set from the first climb. Rachel Chambers (U/A) outstanding run came home to win in a new record time of 87m31 (12th overall) followed by Zanthe Wray (Dark Peak) and Zoe Barber (Mercia).
Kate Whitfield (Mercia) won the O40 category and Julia Dala (Pensby) took the O50 category.
Great showing from the Pensby Runners who managed to get 19 runners to the race which helped them take the Petzl Team Trophy to the Wirral for the first time.
The new U18 & U16 junior races saw a low turnout but this did not stop some excellent performances. Christopher Larkin (Halton & Frodsham) set an excellent time of 49m08 on the M18 course. Lois Lee won the ladies U18 though not content with the new course added a little extra distance to it. Logan Hargreaves-Madhas (Wharfdale Harriers) made the long trip worth it by winning the U16 race though helped in part by 2nd placed Edward Woodhead (West Cheshire AC) going slightly astray on the descent. Eden O’Dea (Wrexham AC) won the ladies W16.
Refreshments, presentations and the obligatory post-race debrief chats were held in Village Hall. A special presentation of a bottle of fizz & flowers were made to the original race organiser John Morris on this the 30th Anniversary of the race.
Special thanks to NEWSAR members and the supporters group for marshalling the race & looking after the runners (and marshals) with homemade soup & cakes. You are all stars and there was a great deal of love from the runners to you folks.
Full results can be found on the website. Click the result tab above or else click here.
Sunday 22nd October
£6 for main race. £2 for Junior U16 & U18.
PLEASE NOTE: Due to the forecasted wind & rain – Full body waterproofs, hat & gloves MUST be worn or carried (in accordance with WFRA Safety Guidelines). Also you must carry a compass & whistle, food & drink. A map will be provided (though bring a clear sandwich bag to pop it in – else it may get soggy). Kit checks can be made!
Details of junior races can be found here – race maps added.