18 Dec 2010

Cardington Cracker

Cardington Cracker.

Andy Davies from Newtown, Powys, strode to a hat trick of victories in the 23rd Cardington Cracker Fell Race. The Cracker race which is 9 miles with 2600 feet of climbing including the summits of Lawley, Caer Caradoc, Gaerstone Rock and Willstone Hill. This traditional pre Christmas race regularly attracts a good quality field of over 200 runners from as far afield as South Wales, Cambridge, Essex and Yorkshire.

Andy who still plays regular football in the Welsh Premier League is also a Welsh International Fell Runner who was 12th in last years British Fell Running Championships won by his brother Tim, who is also a 5 times winner of the Cracker and the race record holder. The quality in the race this year was evident as there were 4 of the top 12 in the British Championship all taking part in the mens race. Despite the most difficult conditions in the 23 year history of the race, with snow and ice covering much of the course, 31 year old Andy Davies of Mercia Fell Runners, winning time of 1 hour 12 minutes and 57 seconds was amazing as it was less than 30 seconds slower than his winning time last year. Steven Cale, the leader of the Shropshire Winter Series and of the recent Wrekin Wrecker Race, who was 10th in the British Championships was the early leader and caught by Davies on the ridge just after Gaerstone Farm as the runners headed for Willstone Hill. At Willstone Hill Davies had a 21 second advantage which he extended to just under a minute by the finish. The Shrewsbury AC runner, who is improving every year, is a teacher at Wrekin College, finished in 1.13.50, just 53 seconds behind the winner, but 30 seconds quicker than last year when he was again second to Davies, but full two minutes behind him.

Richard Roberts from Eryri in Snowdonia, 11th in the British Champs, was third almost 4 minutes behind Cale in 1.17.45. Oswestry's Paul Jones, who had finished a superb 3rd in the North wales Cross Country League ran well for 6th and the first over 40 veteran. Mercia's Pete Vale formerly of Bridgnorth and 9th in the British Champs this year was 8th in 1.24.37. Matt Marston, another Mercia runner, from Clive, who was 10th in the British Under 23 Champs was 11th whilst his team mate Mark Bollom from Shrewsbury, celebrated his first race as an over 40 veteran finishing 12th in 1.25.34 and was the second in his category. Nick Thomas, the Telford Harrier from Bratton was the 3rd over 45 in 1.28.05 whilst Matt Clewes from Newport was the first over 50, 20th overall in 1.29.38, whilst Oswestry's Nick Eyke was 2nd over 50 in 1.33.54. Paul Gresty from Shropshire Shufflers was the first over 55 in 1.44.19 with Rick Robson, organiser of the Breidden Hills race second over 55 in 1.50.03.

Henry Thomas ( pictured above on Caer Caradoc ) was the first TAC runner home in 42nd and 5th over 45 in 1.35.06. Paul Sanderson was next home in 1.54.36 and the 6th over 55 just ahead of Dave Hopkins 1.55.11 who was the 7th over 55 with Bryan Bridges next in 2.19.47. There were 200 finishers.

Helen Fines, from Todmorden, Yorkshire, won her 4th consecutive womens race but in her slowest winning time reflecting the tough conditions in 1.31.52 but still 3 minutes ahead of her nearest rival. Helen, is one of the top fell runners in the country having finished 2nd in this years British and 4th in the English Championships. Kate Bailey from Stafford running for Staffordshire Moorlands was second in 1.34.53, whilst Shropshire's Mel Price from Woolston, running for Mercia had a brilliant run to place 3rd in 1.35.29. Shrewsbury AC's Anna Bartlett, race winner in 2004 and 8th in this years British Champs, was 4th and first over 40 in 1.36.20. Shropshire Shuffler Val Swingler was the 5th lady home in 1.40.21 with Tattenhall's Sarah Hammond a regular in the North Wales Cross Country League 6th and first over 45 in 1.41.03.

Paul Sanderson

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