9th September 2023
The Worrall Festival Chase, now in its third year, is a fairly recent addition to the local trail race menu, but a very welcome one. A 7 kilometre race with over 200 metres of elevation, starting and finishing at Sycamore Park in Worrall. The race takes runners around a mostly off-road route up to Onesmoor, down Coumes Brook and back up to Worrall.
The £6 entry fee one again included a festival beer and glass – the glass was in fact plastic, but the beer was definitely beer!
There were 50 plus runners this year, up from last year and a respectable number, given the number of other races over the weekend. There were a good number of Striders there, hardly surprising, given that it was included in this year’s trail championships (more of that later). It was also unseasonably warm, and the post race consensus was that it made conditions really tough this year. However, that didn’t stop a number of Striders from producing really impressive performances; Neil Schofield was 4th overall and 1st MV50 (though he paid the price for it post-race!), Jed Turner was first MV60 and 8th overall, whilst Fiona Jeffries was first F50 and first female overall. There were also prizes for Sally Twigg and Nada Ross. Prizes included pickled onions, dates and bags of pasta – you don’t get that kind of quality prize at the Great North Run.
The men’s race was won by Joe Sweetnam-Powell of HRRC in a time of 32.37.
So what did all of this do to the Trail Championship I hear you ask? In the MSEN category, a strong race from Marcus Dearns saw him leapfrog Jim Rangeley into second place behind Seth Kirby. Steve Blake continues his late charge to the top of the M40 leaderboard, his Worrall performance puts him just one point behind leader Joel Driver and surely just an appearance at the Canal Race in November will see him take the crown. In the F40 category, Tracey Gledhill has emerged as the clear runner up, needing one more race to qualify and take the second place slot behind Jacqui Herring. Paddy Treehowes bettered his Toffee Run performance and passed Nick Burns into second place, by Al Cook in fourth place is looking ominous and a strong performance in Kimberworth in the last fixture will see him leapfrog both into second place. In the M60 category, Jed Turner continues his march to the top, passing Kevin Haighton into second place but this will only be temporary should he compete at the final race, which should see him amass enough points to take the top spot off Martin Downham.