Sheeptracks Report

Clwydian Sheeptracks 2019 Race Report

A beautiful spring day greeted the opener in this year’s WFRA Championship Series race. 121 started with 109 finishing the course. A dry spell over the last few weeks had left the hills firm and fast underfoot. After last year’s tent parachuting episode we based the race from the Village Hall which proved far more resilient and welcoming.

Champion Ram – Michael Corrales (Dark Peak) give the thumbs up whilst laughing along with 3rd placed Stephen Skates (Prestatyn). Photo: Colin Martin (NEWSAR)

The Ram’s race was well contested. After the northern loop section into CP8 the top ten were separated by less than 4 minutes but from this point Michael Corrales (Dark Peak) ran away from the field gaining 6 minutes over them on the hardest section through to CP15. Gavin Roberts came through CP15 in 4th place 11 minutes down on Michael but clawed back 4 minutes on the run-in section through CP16 & 17 to finish 2nd overtaking both Stephen Skates (Prestatyn) [3rd overall, 1st M40] and Matthew Fortes (Eryri) [4th overall, 2nd M40]. Also having a great last section and rounding out the top five was Rob Grantham (Pensby) [5th overall, 3rd M40].

”Purple Drain” trod, below Moel Dywyll, leading up to CP10 ‘boulder-on-the-shoulder’. Photo: Richard Anthony (Aberyswyth)

The Ewe’s race was a two way scrap between, reigning Champion Ewe, Hayley Evans (Buckley) and Sarah Ridgway (Mercia) [1st W40]. Neck and neck until CP8, Hayley eked out a couple of minutes by CP15 and then pulled away on the run-in section to retain the title. Sian Williams [2nd W40] came in third.

Hard going at the back of the field. Photo: Richard Anthony (Aberyswyth)

M50 winner was Ed Gamble (Cheshire Hill Racers) [10th overall] with Paul Jeggo (Springfield) [21st] in second with Simon Ellis (Chester Tri) [25th] in third. W50 winner Sue Howarth (Mercia) arrived covered in mud & blood after finding (and falling into) the only stream for miles.

Simon Edwards (Buckley) climbs away from CP8. Photo: Colin Martin (NEWSAR)

The O60 race was run over a shorter 20km course (missing the northern loop) but retaining the harder sections to provide a challenge. A great run from Steve Jones (Eryri) took the win in the M60 category followed home by Nicholas Holmes (Tattenhall) & then a photo finish for joint-third between Huw Lewis (Buckley) & Glen Davies (Mercia) – well it doesn’t help when runners arrive from 2 different directions with no real finish line! W60 winner was Menai Baugh (Denbigh).

A strapping young lad called John Morris took home the O70 crown and a few tins of mushy peas for his efforts.

“You looking at me?” Ellie Salisbury’s, Elsi managed to get all the Rams & Ewes back into the pen for tea & cakes. Photo: Colin Martin (NEWSAR)

This year’s course had been well recced by the majority of the runners but route choice still played a key role in the final standings. The section between CP10-CP15 gave numerous lines to follow but surprisingly it was CP16-17 that was the biggest winner for some. Those taking the west side sheeptrack (Traverse of the Gods) gained 3-5 minutes on those that chose to stay on the Scouse Road and go over the summit.

The Scouse Road maybe not the quickest way to the finish line, but it’s a great view. Photo: Richard Anthony (Aberystwyth)

The new Ian Brown Memorial Trophy (Clwydian mini-series) was deservedly won by Jez Brown (Buckley) with Hayley Evans (Buckley) in second and Iain Wood third. Rob Grantham’s 5th placed finish along with his Clwydian Hills win in October puts him in the bog-seat for the trophy at the Mountain Race in August – but you have to be in-it to win-it.

Just a caution note to all runners – It was a warm day. Far too many of you set off with insufficient water for the race. I positioned a small quantity of water at the manned checkpoints for first aid/safety purposes. It is embarrassing to see lead runners taking this (especially as early as CP8)! This race runs under WFRA safety guidelines – read them. You are meant to carry SUFFICIENT WATER FOR YOUR NEEDS. I will not wipe your backsides in future. Anyone running the race in future who takes ‘safety’ water will be time penalised if I am in a happy mood or DSQ if I am grumpy. Nuff said.

Thanks as always to all the helpers, cake bakers, marshals & of course safety cover from the fantastic NEWSAR. One thousand apologies to Tim Hargreaves by forcing him to marshal in the Buckley/Bohemian Rhapsody Fanzone – I hope your tinnitus has cleared.

Next year: more of the same – hopefully a little chillier