We're off! This year's BOFRA championship got off to a cracking start on an 'interesting' day all round. Gone were the straw bales which had in previous year's been essential route choice for most, and instead a section of metal fence at the far side of the show ground was removed...just for us! What we hadn't realised of course before, was that the bales nicely covered the nettles! Still...by the time most of us followed the leaders out they'd been suitabley down-trodden (the nettles that is!).
Weather wise there was a good smattering of warm sunshine and light rain, ably mixed with calm on the show field and a bit of a chilly breeze at height.
First to show their winter-honed skills were the seniors. Somehow the run out up the track and through the fields seemed to have lengthened a bit since last year...well, for me at least! Then contouring round and straight up! Round the summit (after the false summit of course) and then a hurtle back down. And here lay another interesting turn to the day. Some turned just a tad left off the summit and picked up a superb runnable path, avoiding all the gorse and only taking in a short bit of steep ground. Others took the more traditional descent back the way we'd come - though not in future years I'll warrant. The former certainly seemed to bring dividends and some fine points gained by some!
At the front of the field Alastair Dunn started where he'd finished off last year's championship and secured a fine win. Next placings were very fiercely competed for, with just 5 seconds separating Brendon Taylor, Chris Edis and Chris Smale. (I wish I could say I saw that finish, but I was still meandering my way down the hill ...following Baz!).
Defending ladies' champion Lisa Lacon similarly opened up her points tally with a good win over Jenny Dybeck, with Jennie Guard notching up her account in 3rd. In the slightly more mature seniors category, Billy Proctor clearly rose to the challenge of messrs Pickles and Holt who look to have had a good race in together and resurrecting their battles of last year!
Once we'd counted the seniors out and counted them all back in again, the Under 17's showed their mettle. And what a competitive category this is! The first 10 runners home were all within a minute of each other. A tremendous race at the front between Jonny Bradshaw and Tim Orr saw Jonny get ahead on the final run-in. And with Marc Scott opening up a small lead over Sean Carey to secure 3rd place, this category looks wide-open. Juniors ladies a saw an outstanding run by Mealanie Hyder, getting away from Pippa Barrett, whilst Lauren Munro-Bennett opened up her BOFRA season with a well placed 3rd.
In the U14 race James Knox set out his stall as the one to beat this season, and that he has no intention of loosening his grip of his championship title easily! Mind, with Ben Johnstone, David Goad and James Hall all not far behind, James had best not ease off! Nicole Narey and Lauren Appleyard battled out the girls honours with Zara Knappy hot on their heels!
And what a delight to see a great field of 47 runners in the U12's race! First home in this race was Neil Orr, pulling away from Oliver Whyte, who along with Ben Kent were having a fair old tussle for 2nd and 3rd places. In the girls', Mary O'Reilly pulled away form Ellamae Gibson, whilst Sophie Seddon just got the better (by 1 second!) of Holly Carter to bag 3rd spot.
Some interesting post-race discussion abounded in all categories I'm sure! Next championship outing at the..erm... "shorter" Coniston Gullies...