Ponderosa & Offroad Grand Prix


Race Report by Rob Mackey

 

Two races in two nights!

In a sensible world, on a cool wet windy Wednesday evening everyone should stay in and watch telly. It’s probably something mind-bogglingly interesting about baking, or 24 hours in the life of a dull person.

But it’s not a sensible world. So 82 of us lined up part way up a road leading from the Ponderosa to the mast. We stood in the wind and rain waiting for the start. A mile of steady climb up the road spreads the field out a bit. Then a sharp right turn takes you downhill along a very narrow track for a mile or so with few opportunities for overtaking (or being overtaken). After that it gets interesting. Another sharp right and the route follows the line of the fence along a grassy track; narrow, uneven with a lot of heather, bracken and brambles and, at intervals, boggy bits where the streams cross. A few dips and climbs but generally downhill make it good running but what goes down must come up. Unlike most fell races this one finishes uphill, half a mile of steady climbing along the side of an overgrown hedge, often boggy up to the finish on open moorland just below the café.

 

Ponderosa

 

Ten Buckley Runners (plus Mark who has been training with us recently) completed the 4 miles and 950 feet of climbing. Paul Stinton (Running as his alter-ego) was 8th with Simon Edwards 3 places behind him. Steve Bellis was 29th with Justin in 32nd place winning the JM section despite twisting his ankle. Good to see Hayley back running picking up 1st LV35 in 39th place. Hazel, Alice and John finished within 30 seconds of each other in 59th, 60th and 61st. (John got 1st MV70). Mark was 73rd and I was 79th.

It was universally agreed it was an excellent event. Great course, well organised by Charles Ashley and the team and excellent atmosphere. Pity about the weather which was horrible. (picture by Charles Ashley)

So, having got drenched, stumbled through bogs and got nettled and scratched by brambles on Wednesday most sensible people would have stay in on Thursday and watch those programmes on catch-up TV. But alas no, half of the Buckley Runners who had run at the Ponderosa turned up at Shotton for Race 3 of the Off-Road GP.

How did ORGP compare? It was a much better evening; warm and sunny. The distance is about the same (a bit longer) but with no big hills although lots of twists and turns. No bogs although recent high tides had left standing water on and around parts of the course but plenty of long grass and brambles. And we had another excellent turnout from Buckley Runners.

I enjoyed both races. The Ponderosa is always fun and ORGP is an excellent well-organised series. At the Ponderosa I avoided my usual role of keeping the sweeper company at the Ponderosa, partly because I beat Martin Jones from Denbigh. But Martin got his revenge on Thursday. I raced with him for most of the race but couldn’t keep up with him over the last half mile so the honours were even.

 

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