This year’s Darrens Dash hill race was organised as a partnership between Longtown School PTFA, Longtown Pre-School and Wye Valley Runners. After last year’s deluge it was a relief to hold the event on the new course. At 6 miles long and with 1,500ft of ascent, the course is not for the faint-hearted.
The weather was kind and 77 runners took up the challenge including a number running with dogs! Following the recent rain there was no shortage of water for the runners to contend with and the going was decidedly ‘soft’ in places. The event included a separate ‘Cani-Cross’ category for the first time on a slightly amended course.
The lead runners set an impressive pace from the start as they crossed the Olchon Brook and then completed the sustained climb through fields to open country and thence via narrow tracks to the top of the Darrens crags. After hitting the Offa’s Dyke Path with its fine views in both directions, a turn to the south led the runners along the undulating terrain of the Hatterall Ridge before reaching the Rhiw and the start of the fast descent to Longtown with its castle acting as a beacon to tired legs and sapped spirits.
1st place and the new course record went to Hugh Aggleton, of M.D.C., in an impressive time of 43:11. 2nd place went to Sean Taylor of Mynydd Du in a time of 44.42. 3rd place and 1st Vet went to John Pullen of Wye Valley Runners in a time of 45:05. The first lady home was Emma Bayliss from Mynydd Du in 53:33. 2nd was Nicola Gething of Parc Bryn Bach in 56:16 and 3rd was Fiona Turner of Forest of Dean A.C. in 58:45.
For full results: www.wyevalleyrunners.co.uk
The childrens races also attracted 35 entrants aged 4 – 12 who battled it out on the slippery course. The convincing winner of the under 12s category was Will Lovejoy of Cross Ash, whilst Sadie Lloyd of Longtown won an equally impressive first place in the under 8s category. A bouncy castle, raffle, and fantastic teas and cakes kept supporters and spectators in good cheer. Many thanks to all runners who took part and a particular big thank you to Longtown Mountain Rescue Team who provided essential marshals 'on the hill' and to the farmers / landowners who let us use their land. Race drinks and trophies were sponsored by Black Mountain Mineral Water company.
Thanks to the generosity of many local sponsors, more than £800 was raised for Longtown PTFA & Pre-School and Longtown Mountain Rescue Team.