90 runners gathered on a drab but dry Sunday morning to tackle this challenging annual event, starting in Fownhope and taking in the ancient hill fort at Caplor. The race is run in memory of Gordon Clements, a former Wye Valley stalwart and all proceeds this year go to Hope Support Services for bereaved children, our local charity.
After a fairly strenuous 10 minute walk to the start, the runners faced an initial 3 miles along the bank of the Wye, before starting the climb up to Caplor Hill. The route is almost entirely off road and offers stunning views (on a clear day!) across the Wye Valley. After descending from the fort, the final 2 miles of the 6.5 mile race are undulating, with several fairly stiff climbs to catch out those who thought that the start was easy. Conditions were a little sticky underfoot in places, but some impressive times were recorded in the various age categories.
With last years winner, Hereford Courier Matt James unable to defend his title due to illness, there was always likely to be a new winner in this years race. At the front there was a battle royal between Andrew Salt from Croft Ambrey and over 45 Barry Reynolds, one of Hereford Couriers newer recruits. In the end Andrew Salt prevailed in a superfast time of 42.32, only half a minute ahead of Barry Reynolds. These two were well clear of Luke Gray from Monross in 46.10, although Wye Valleys Greg Wood had been lying 3rd before taking a wrong turn near the end of the race. Ross Cameron from Hereford Couriers was first junior in 4th (46.45) closely followed by Mark Thomas from Croft Ambrey in 47.00, who finished carrying one shoe! Next in and first over 50 was Mike Fawcett from Wye Valley Runners, showing that age is no barrier, with a superb time of 47.13. The first 6 finished inside last years winning time, showing the quality of the field at the sharp end.
The ladies race, although not quite as competitive as the mens, still yielded some outstanding performances with Fern Cotterill from Ludlow Runners making the top 10 in the overall race, finishing 9th in an excellent 49.22. Laura Tootell, from host club Wye Valley Runners, was next and first over 40 lady in 54.05. Kelly Bowen from Croft Ambrey, last years runner up, was 3rd this time in 55.42.
In the age groups, particular mention should be made of Dave Williams and Steve Herington, both of Hereford Couriers, who finished first over 55 and first over 65 respectively, in 14th and 34th place overall. Wye Valleys own super vet Bryan Symonds also beat many of his much younger rivals, coming in 71st place overall and first over 75. As did Jan Edwards, also from Wye Valley, who finished first over 60 lady in 56th.
In the team races, there were clear wins for Hereford Couriers in the mens race and Ludlow Runners in the ladies. 88 runners finished, significantly up on the 2017 race where we had 55 finishers. This local race continues to go from strength to strength and is likely to move to a summer evening slot in 2019, when we hope to attract an even bigger entry to take on this challenging course in the beautiful Wye Valley.
Before the main event, there were two races for children around the Fownhope recreation ground, attracting a small number of enthusiastic future Gords 6 runners.
Thanks to the army of marshalls and helpers who made the race possible and to our sponsors and suppliers :
Patrick and Bernie Elson, Kath Bouston, Ralph Lloyd, Sarah Evan
Swan Brewery, Leominster Post race beer
Firepower Graphics Race T-shirts
Full results and category winners here