The 3rd running of the Crosby Commoner took place after an evening of heavy snow had blanketed the countryside, such that an alternative route was forced upon the organisers due to the hazarous nature of hidden clints and lurking grykes along what I am assured would have been a very nice stretch of limestone pavement.
The mass (see above!) start took off up the lane and soon turned right to begin a fairly steady climb along farm tracks to the old quarries and moorland beyond. Up here the unsullied fresh and fluffy snow cover to mid-calf depth (that’s the calf muscle on your leg, not the farm animal) meant everyone was trying to follow in the same footsteps as the alternative was utterly exhausting as I found out on my one and only overtaking manouevre. After that I decided a procession wasn’t such a bad thing after all and tucked in behind the ‘Lady in Red’ as the moorland dropped away to a road crossing, climbed again, dropped again, climbed again and dropped once more before hitting the road for 1.5km and a return down along the outward route – to the first turning really near the start where, to make up the race distance, we were sent climbing straight up the hillside again on an icy lane and across a couple of fields cunningly equipped with more virgin snow and multiple false horizons. Hard as that was, the downhill bit was really nice, more deep unspoilt snow, a hidden stream to plough through, and finally back to the crest of the bridge and the finish line.
I knew I was close to being the tail end charley on this race – just look up the pedigree of some of the other competitors, especially the winner – but I was gratified to hear just about everyone say they had found it to be tough going. All credit to Denise Tunstall of DFR who was only just beaten into ladies 2nd place by one of the locals. I scored a spot prize so it was worth going after all.