Though the IWCA AC failed to follow last year's success in either the team or Under 18's categories at this year's Rugged Radnage 10k, our runners gave their all and did themselves and the club proud.
The Rugged Radnage is evidently becoming more popular each year and the quality of the field is improving accordingly. 361 runners took part in this, 4th annual fundraiser for the local primary school - 54 up on last year with the course record being smashed by nearly 3 minutes and times in all other prize categories also improving significantly.
While others were undoubtedly better conditioned for the challenging Chilterns course, having had more training on this type of punishing terrain, none could have given as much today as Shawn Merry and Peter Wright who both collapsed of exhaustion once they had crossed the finishing line after sprinting home to pass a number of runners in the last 100 metres. The boys achieved impressive times of 54:15 and 54:29 respectively. Shawn came less than a second behind his time from last year, while Peter knocked nearly 5 minutes off his previous effort.
Taking into account the queue to start the race (runners are not chip timed, so the couple of minutes it took to cross to the start line after the race began, counted) the boys did even better than their official times suggest.
Coach and veteran runner, Stuart Craft, won the prize for 'first man in a plaster cast' (or he would have, if there was such an award!) as he ran the race with a broken bone in his hand from a recent motorbike accident. Though he came just under a minute and a half behind his official time from last year, coming in at 50.13, Stuart was happy that he achieved his main aim of managing to avoid falling on the damaged hand through the muddy, waterlogged woodland ascents.
Our second veteran runner, Simon O'Keefe, who took on the course for the first time, also achieved his main goal. Simon stated before the race that he'd be happy to complete the course in less than an hour and we're happy to report that he achieved this, finishing in 56:04. Simon was remarkably composed when he crossed the line - indicating that he has a lot more to give in future events!
Coach, Graca Craft, jogged over the line in 1:06:24. Graca has been ill all week with a heavy cold and was not much better this morning. She could have stayed at home today rather than take on, coughing and spluttering, the wet and misty hills of Radnage, but that wouldn't have been her style. Graca is a tough woman and not one to let the team down. This was evident yesterday when she put aside the fact that she was feeling under the weather, to throw herself into a karate seminar organised to raise funds for specialist cancer treatment for a highly respected local instructor (Shihan), Paul Coleman, and again this morning when she traded her pajamas and the opportunity for much needed rest and recuperation for the black and white stripes of the IWCA AC and the muddy mayhem of the Rugged Radnage. We are lucky to have such dedicated volunteer coaches as Graca, whose efforts serve as a great example to our up and coming young athletes.
Thanks to Phil, Sam, Peter and Angela for helping out with the transport and also to David T, Robert, Alex, Isobel, Hannah and Lucy for coming along to support their team mates.