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).
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.
175 runners from far & wide took part in the annual Clwydian Hills Fell Race. The race had added emphasis this year, being the final counter in both the North Wales and Open Welsh Series competitions.
Initial clag on the hill tops cleared to leave fresh and clear conditions for the race. Ground conditions were good due to the recent dry spell we have had.
A superb turn out from quite a few clubs but Mercia frankly owned the race this year. They duly claimed the Petzl Team trophy with great performances from across the team. Mercia’s Paul Jones & Emma Gould took home the main titles with new record times of 77m26s and 89m13s respectively as well as picking up the Ladies O40 (Anna Bartlett) and Mens O60 (Glen Davies) plus notable placings elsewhere.
Traditional soup & roll in the village hall was despatched with haste and followed by the various donated cakes from the team & supporters group members.
Apologies for the prize raffle – my instructions were not as clear as they should have been. Hence prizes went to the placings (again). This will be remedied next year.
Special thanks to Cotswold & Keela for the prize vouchers, gear from the various team members, that cracking greta veg box from Gill plus the vouchers from Denton & Hyde Hair & Beauty, Maria Roberts Holistic Therapist. You are all fantastic and great supporters of the team. Special thanks to Stuart at Cotswold Chester for donating 2 helpers for the day 😉
Full results can be found and downloaded on the results page.
Results for the North Wales & Open Welsh Series can be found on the WFRA website www.wfra.me.uk
Variety was certainly the order of the day as 159 runners from more than 30 clubs set off on a perfect autumn day. Clear, bright and warm conditions meant the navigation should not have been a problem on the revamped mid-section of the course but a few runners still managed some interesting variations between checkpoints.
The new mid-section breaks the original older single climb into two shorter but steeper rougher ascents over spurs on the ridge with a good bit of high level traversing thrown in the mix. Route choice is now more open with variations possible between most of the checkpoints before the final summit. The feeling is the course is circa 5-8 minutes longer than the original but the hot weather made this difficult to assess.
Stephen Skates from Prestatyn RC (M23-40 winner & overall) lead the field home followed by Jez Brown from Buckley Runners (M40 winner) and Christopher Leigh (M40 2nd). Anne-Marie Jones (F60 1st & overall) brought the ladies home followed by Mary Gillie (M23-40 1st) and Hayley Evans (M23-40 2nd). Tattenhall Runners scoped the Petzl Team Trophy in a close contest between themselves, Pensby (2nd) and Buckley Runners (3rd).
The heat of the day gave the runners a few problems but a quick dunk in the multiple mountain streams gave some relief. The race passed without major incident, with our main concern being getting a few waylaid runners home who had made “unusual” route choices.
Soup & roll, hot drinks & cake for all runners back at the village hall seemed a little out of place in the sunshine but were polished off in the traditional fell runner style nevertheless. Anything left was hoovered up by the returning marshals in the traditional Mountain Rescue style of course ☺
Gripes: Parking – we will sort something out for next year. Results prep & presentation – we will look at ways to speed this up next year as you folks were kept hanging around for too long. Sorry.
Thanks to: All the prize sponsors – Cotswold, Keela, Allcord, Mokoko, Soul Hair, O’Brien Sports Massage, 9bar, Wenlock Spring. Some really great prizes this year from you folks – don’t worry I will be badgering you again in a year’s time. Village Hall – great facility in the heart of the community. Massive thanks to Babs Boardwell for sitting in the glorious sunshine and snapping some fantastic photos all day long – bring a brolly next year 😉
As forecasted a cold front moved over the Clwydians on Saturday, bringing drizzle and clag just as I was putting out markers. But Sunday dawn brought a clear, sunny sky, which remained throughout the day giving a good day in the hills for both runners and NEWSAR members who were marshalling the event.
Rich Roberts (Eryri) was never troubled to take the men’s prize while Sally Newman (Calder Valley) was first lady home. Roger Lamb (Mercia) and Graham McAra (Cheshire Hill Racers) were the first vet 40 and vet 50 men respectively to finish. The originator of the race John Morris (Buckley) was the first M60 home, with local runners taking 2nd. and 3rd. M60 places.
A few runners would be advised to take either the WFRA or FRA navigation courses.
A special word of thanks is due to the NEWSAR members who forgo a fine day in the hills to provide both runners and team members with refreshments after the race.
Horrendous weather forecasts on Saturday meant many hours planning a foul weather route. On race morning the rain was heavy, and the weather forecasts mixed, and as late as possible, bearing in mind that the marshals have to be deployed onto the hill, the decision was taken, in conjunction with the NEWSAR team leaders, to go with the foul weather route. Of course the weather then started to improve; at least it was not so wet.
So 89 brave souls embarked on a course that was designed to minimise navigation challenges, to be shorter and to avoid exposed locations. Within these limitations I hope the course provided an interesting and still challenging run.
My apologies to all the athletes, and especial the Tattenhall runners, for making an incorrect announcement of the team positions. I had developed software to calculate the positions, and on checking when I got home, I realised my mistake. All I can say is that the system required manual intervention and I was not driving the computer!