Wentwood Woodlark - Race Report (By Carthorse Reporter Nick Jackson)

Wentwood Woodlark.
The bigwigs at Lliswerry Runners have approached the Carthorse Reporting team for a race report. You may be familiar with the Carthorse reports but if not, let us know what you think.

Carthorse Report.
On a day that had a big city 10k, a small city half marathon and some twenty mile madness in Crewe, the trail running faithfull of Lliswerry all turned up at Earlswood near Shirenewton, shamelessly seeking championship points.

It was dry and fine, the sun was out although not excessively hot as we all trooped up from the car park to register and then trooped back to the race start. All we were missing was the Grand Old Duke of York (Andy James). This was the very first Wentwood Woodlark as hosted by our chums at Chepstow Harriers and there was a feeling that we were all very much on trial. Those that had run the St.Arvans MT10 were expecting something similar, but this was hillier, boggier and also involved some paddling.

The first problem was that in the absence of Howard Attwood, there was very nearly no team photo, however the Missus saved the day using my Blackberry (more of those later).

So we all bombed off down a steep hill which soon became a sort of muddy stream bed effort with loads of stones and roots making it hazardous to say the least. On arriving at the bottom in ‘The Cwm’ we crossed the brook before climbing, climbing, climbing and climbing some more before emerging from the trees upon the summit of Gray Hill with its terrific views which were vaguely visible through the curtain of sweat. There followed yet another steep, slippy descent into the woods, following some fire tracks to appoint named Nine Wells (apt name for the first water station).

Predictably one was sent up another long hill with a few small streams to jump or stagger through. It was on this stage that I decided to cut the pace back and enjoy the scenery and happened upon a big thicket of brambles, laden down with blackberries. After a brief respite and soft fruit fest, I continued up the hill the ‘The Five Paths’ where there was a second water station and surprisingly five paths.
Within another mile, one reached the high point of the route and began to descend through some very marshy ground. All it needed was Sam, Frodo and Gollum to make it complete. It was in this area that some of our number very keenly took a wrong turning and added an extra mile into the route. The Dave Gates Satnav award was shared by Alison Sheedy and Andy Ralph for this act of navigational folly.
The pull up out of the boggy bits was a bridle way consisting of mud, knee deep pools of smelly water and horse droppings. Being near the back of the field it was possible to play dap tread recognition in the piles of poo. The route then returned through one of the five paths and left by another and we were all off downhill towards home. We ran down through trees, mud, steps and grass before splashdown back in Castroggi Brook, ably marshalled by Fairwater’s Lord Ziggy of Bowieshire. Being on the short side I went in nearly up to my neck and found myself hoping that Netty Dumayne had brought a snorkel.

So to the sting in the tail. The finish was nearby but involved a climb of some 100m in roughly a half mile stretch. A difficult sprint finish by anyone’s standards.

Everyone was smiling at the end and what was a fairly demanding route, mostly due to the hills turned out to be a fine race. Hopefully the management will keep it in the championship again next year.

Carthorse Summary:
1) Weather: Fine warm and dry but the previous day’s rain had left its mark.
2) Medal: No medals for this one.
3) Tee Shirt: No tee shirt.
4) Cuppa: Gallons of free tea or coffee at the end. Water also given out en-route.
5) Cake: A feast of cakeage available post race. Top effort.
6) Hills: As the report suggests. There was much upping and downing.
7) Terrain: This had the lot. Macadam road, grassy fields, muddy trails, stony tracks, bogs and a wading bit. Carthorse ratings: Despicable on the Westley Scale; slight challenge on the Owen Ovey Scale; potential disaster on the Bateman scale. Reports suggest that happily no-one was awarded the Order of St John.
8) Benevolence factor: Funny how you rarely see the charity runners out in force on these spiky little trail runs.
9) VFM: An inexpensive morning’s activity. Entry fee was worth it for the cakes alone.
10) Overall rating: 9 carrots out of 10 and a bale of hay for the baking skills.
Brief explanation of the Terrain ratings. Dave Westley doesn’t like getting his daps muddy, Ruth Owen Ovey’s 2013 Dursley Dozen shows that a bit of mud and hills are nothing to her and Lisa Batemans tendency for diving chest first into shallow water is a thing of wonder. The order of St.John is awarded to those that end up in and ambulance.