Exe-rated runners!

Exe-rated runners!
The successful Harriers team, en masse, at the Erme Valley Relays, July 2013

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Blog takes it annual Christmas vacation....

So, ok, maybe Ellie is taking her Christmas vacation and probs won't be getting to a computer over the next 4 weeks to be able to do any postings. Please continue to forward me any race details though and I'll have an epic blogging session upon my return.
Also Dave Eveleigh will be resuming his press duties as of this week, so please do contact him with any news / reports / photos so we can keep the Journal and Echo articles flowing over the festive period.

Happy Christmas everyone!

Ellie :-)

CAPER-ble of racing, in-CAPER-ble of winning!

Approaching the finish line at the Cockinton Christmas Caper

After what has been a testing couple of months on the health and injury front, I, Ellie Sutcliffe, finally felt up to tackling a race on Saturday 10th December and so I opted for a fun off-roader, the Cockington Caper. Starting from the cricket ground in Cockington Country Park, near Torquay, this is a tough, hilly and very muddy 7 1/4 mile race around fields, footpaths and woodland tracks. There are logs and streams to jump, fallen tree branches to negotiate, styles to vault, some punishingly steep climbs that slow you to a fell-runner type walk, some lethal descents, and a hell of a lot of mud!

I started the race at about 70% of the fitness I was at two months agao when I did the Snowdonia Marathon and so I was faced with two choices: start steady, just canter around at a comfortable pace and enjoy being able to race again, and maybe sneak a cheeky 3rd place, or set off hard in the vain hope of trying to win it and just pray that my mental strength could somehow compensate for my lack of physical fitness.... being the nutter that I am, I opted for the latter!

It almost payed off. I led the women's race until mile 7 (whose stupid idea was it to add that extra 1/4 of a mile anyway?!) and the very last climb on the course, when I felt like I was having a minor asthma attack and simply could not get enough oxygen in to keep my pace up and fend off the talented Torbay AC athlete, Wendy Urban, who was closing in fast. She caught me at the top of the climb with just 0.10 of a mile to run to the finish. I had nothing left to come back at her with and finished 4 seconds behind her in 59.01, taking 14th place overall out of 171 finishers. Not a bad result considering the lack of training I've been able to do since the end of October, and, pleasingly, I beat the SWRR athlete, Lucy Commander, for the very first time ever... I can only think she wasn't at her best as I certainly wasn't at mine.

The race was won by Arran Tocknell, also of Torbay AC, in 50.05; this was over 5 minutes clear of the 2nd placed athlete!

Ho hum, onwards and upwards, and forwards to the First Chance 10k!

Friday, 9 December 2011

Dave down under!

Press man, Dave Eveliegh, has been touring the southern hemisphere for the past 5 weeks. And, after 5 weeks of silence, during which you would have been forgiven for thinking that he might have accidentally fallen through the bottom of the globe, he has at last been in contact to reassure us that he is having a wonderful time and has even managed to fit a couple of races in!

From Dave:

'I raced in Oz for first time recently, as a guest of the Austrailian international marathoner, John Duck. The race was the Traralgon Harriers Handicap 5km which took place in rural Victoria on dusty, undulating tracks, rather like Woodbury Common. (Not quite like Woodbury Common at this time of the year, in the cold and wet! ed.)
My time was about 25 min and I placed 25th out of the 41 entrants.

After this it was onto New Zealand and to the home of the 'Fun Run' in Auckland along with around 20,000 other entrants. I then ran 5km in "windy" Wellington which was living up to its name. There was some route confusion on this course along a busy waterfront. I was grateful to have been categorised as a "runner" and not a "jogger"! Overall I finished in top half and clocked about 22:20: almost the same as my time in the Run Exe 5k in September, so I was pleased considering conditions.'

Enjoy your last week darn sarth and safe journey back to Devon!

Thursday, 8 December 2011

It's a 3rd 3rd for Caroline at Otterton!

Harriers at race HQ (a church!) for start of the Otterton Reindeer Run

On the morning after the Harrier's Dinner and Dance, the Otterton Reindeer Run provided the perfect means of detoxing and working off all the booze and yummy food consumed the night before! Seven Harriers in total lined up on the start line by the village church and prepared to tackle the 10k multi-terrain course that promised mud and hills aplenty... however, it was probably the promise of a cup of mulled wine at the end that spurred them on to run faster!

John Croome was the first Harrier home, having an excellent run to finish in 40.01 for 6th place overall. Bravo!

Caroline Pleasence continued her excellent Autumn racing season with yet another 3rd place in the female race, finishing in 19th overall in 44.26. She was pushed all the way to the line by the 4th placed runner who finished just 2 seconds behind her! This is Caroline's 3rd 3rd, following on from fine runs at The Stickler and The Bicton Blister.

Next in was Rory Devine, 32nd in 45.53, followed by Lorraine Croome who had a strong run for 43rd place in 48.18. Then came Lee Russell, easily making it into the top 100: 79th in 54.29.

Rounding off the proceedings were Stan Mason, making it in under the hour in 58.08 for 100th spot, and immediately behind him in 101st, Diana Richards clocked 58.22.

There were 177 finishers in total and the race was won by Laurence Bolam of hosting club Sidmouth in 37.04. Lucy Commander of SWRR was first female home, 13th overall, in 42.26.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Harriers get their groove on at the Christmas party!

The annual Christmas dinner and awards do is always an eagerly anticipated event on the Exmouth Harriers’ social calendar. This year it was held in the Exmouth Rugby Club where a delicious buffet dinner, a quiz, some karaoke and a chance to strut their stuff on the dance floor kept the 70 some party-goers entertained all evening. Further entertainment came in the form of David Bowie-Stone on the mike and then he showed off again by getting his groove on on the dance floor (ok, so, the fastest runner in the club, a good singer and with some legendary dance moves: sign up for the 'this is beyond sickening and how can one bloke hogg all the talent' club here: ____________________ (Although, to be fair, Roger Riggs did give Dave a good run for his money in a dance-off!!)

Joking aside, the eagerly awaited announcement of the awards was, however, the highlight of the night, with chairman Bob Keast presenting the three awards.

The ‘male athlete of the year’ award went to Scott Jordan: a very popular choice amongst voters as he has thrown himself into a strict training regime over the past year that has brought its rewards in terms of a collection of massive new PBs and some fine individual performances at local races. He is also a stalwart team player and can be relied upon to sign his name up to any relay or team event supported by the club. Scott’s hard efforts were also rewarded by him being successful in the Exmouth Harriers’ club ballot for a place in the London Marathon 2012. Very well done to him, and well deserved.

The ‘female athlete of year’ award went to Ellie Sutcliffe. Ellie only joined the Harriers in February of this year, having taken up running in 2010, so she was thrilled to have been selected for this award. Since joining the Harriers she has set numerous PBs, from 5k up to marathon distance, and has even won a few races in the region and further afield. Despite working away in Dorset during term time she has tried to support the club at relay events whenever she is at home in Exmouth.

Ellie and Scott, female and male athletes of the year, with their awards

The final award of the evening was the President’s award. Unlike the other two awards, which are voted for by club members, this award is chosen solely by the Harrier’s president based on who he feels has made the biggest contribution to the club. This year it was felt that Bob Woodhall was the most worthy recipient due to the huge amounts of time and effort he has dedicated in masterminding and developing the beginner’s running course. The course lasted 12 weeks but thanks to Bob’s enthusiasm, support and encouragement, he then persuaded many of the graduate runners to join the club on a permanent basis and he has continued to mentor them ever since. He sacrifices his own weekly training run every Tuesday to do this and so the consensus was that Bob was a highly deserving candidate for this award.

Left: Deep in concentration during the quiz... a room full of athletes, so nobody was at all competitive. (Yeah right!)
Right: The victorious quiz team - 'The Magnificent Seven' (athletes can't count!)

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Harriers host a belting Blister!

Around 500 runners gather at Bicton College for the start of the Bicton Blister and Blister Lite races

Sunday 27th November saw the Exmouth Harriers stage their biggest event of the year: the Bicton Blister and Bicton Lite races. The sun came out this year and greeted a record number of entrants across the two races, with 422 finishers in the main 10 mile event, and 84 completers in the 4.5 mile "Lite" race. An astounding number of entries were taken on the day, with a long queue of late entrants at race HQ signing up right until 5 minutes before the race was due to start!

Race HQ and the late entries desk were busy with well over a hundred late entires pouring in until the very last minute!

Both races start and finish in the beautiful grounds of Bicton College, near Sidmouth, and take runners on a mile of tarmac country lanes out the back of the College before leading them off onto Woodbury Common. Here the course twists and turns over muddy, stoney, uneven tracks and provides competitiors with some stunning views to distract them from the pain of the neverending ascents and descents! After completing a short loop, the Lite runners then head for home, whilst the competitors in the 10 mile event go on to complete a second, longer loop on the commons, crossing a few streams and jumping a few fallen logs and tree roots in the process.

Competition was fierce this year with last year's winner, Stuart Hall, back to defend his title. Kerry Rees, who took victory just one week before at the equally tough 10 mile Drogo race was also on the start line, as was the in-form Tavistock AC runner, Jim Cole. These three men dominated the event, with Cole taking the victory in a "blistering" time of 1.01.15, from Rees (1.01.28) and Hall (1.02.58).

The women's race was not quite so tight at the top, with the first three ladies coming in at 2 minute intervals, but some impressive times were clocked here nevertheless. Unaffiliated runner, Rachael Currie, stormed home to vistory in 1.14.46, in 39th place overall. Wendy Urban of Torbay AC repeated her position from last year, 2nd lady in 1.16.29, and Exmouth Harrier's own Caroline Pleasence claimed a hard earned 3rd spot in a time of 1.18.41.

Caroline Pleasence rounded off her very successful Autumn season of competition with a hard earned 3rd place!

Other Harrier finishers in the 10 mile event were: Richard Bishop, 36th in 1.14.18; Jim Pyne, 60th in 1.18.59; Scott Jordan, 120th in 1.25.13; Lorraine Croome, 159th in 1.28.21; Ray Elston, 258th and 2nd man over 70 in 1.36.15 and Roger Riggs, 274th in 1.37.56. Special mentions must go to Ray, who continues to defy nature and age as he upped the distance from the 'Lite' race last year to run the full 10 miles this year, and to Roger, who is a relative newcomer to the running club scene and this event is by no means the easiest introduction to competitive running!

Roger Riggs (left) and Scott Jordan both had great races in the 10 mile event

The Lite event was over-flowing with Exmouth Harrier runners this year as the graduates from club's beginners' jogging course chose to target it as their first competitive run. All of the beginners, expertly guided by their mentor, Bob Woodhall, have made superb progress over the past few months and have committed themselves to Bob's training programme with determination and good humour! Their hardwork clearly payed its dividends as there were some commendable performances and impressive times in Sunday's 4.5 mile race.

The first Harrier home in this race, and a graduate of the beginner's course, was eighteen year old Michael Morton, taking 23rd spot overall in a time of 42.41. Hot on his heels, just one place and 4 seconds behind, but out-sprinted by Michael on the home straight, was Siobhan Trapnell. This gained Siobhan 6th female overall and 1st in the FV40 category.

L: The top 4 Harriers finishers in the Lite race, L - R: Michael Morton, Siobhan Trapnell, Nic Musgrove and Sarah Slight. Well done guys!
R: Sandra Bate looks happy to have sighted the finish line, but she'd better watch her back as Linda Western and Susan Percy are hot on her heels!

Other Harrier finishers were: Sarah Slight, 39th in 45.46; Nic Musgrove, 40th in 47.00; Alison Wilkinson, 56th in 50.13; Roxanne Henry, 68th in 52.49; Sandra Bate, 80th in 1.09.31; and, rounding them off, finishing within 3 seconds of each other, were Linda Western, 1.09.43, and Susan Percy, 1.09.46, in 81st and 82nd positions respectively.

Alison Wilkinson heads for home! Roxanne Henry sights the finish!

The 'Lite' was won by 14 year old runner Callum Hall in an amazing 29.29: he's one to watch for the future! Top woman was the ever-consistent South West Road Runner's veteran, Karen Cook, 5th overall, in 35.18.

Feedback suggests that the runners appreciated all the little extras, such as the bagpipe seranade half way around the course, the Ironbridge Runner stall, the post-race massage facility... I know that some of the marshalls appreciated this latter...

Lorraine and Ellie selflessly testing the massage facility to ensure it's up to scratch for the runners. Good news: it was!

Well done to all the Harrier finishers, though particularly to all our newcomers. We hope you enjoyed the experience and will stay with the club and go on to compete in many more races!

On behalf of the race director, a big thank you as well to all the many other Harriers who sacrificed a run in order to help out on the day. Whatever role you took on, the event could not have gone ahead so smoothly without you.

Finally, we send our best wishes to runner Pamela, who had an accident out on the course. We wish her a speedy recovery.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Dave and Dave, the dynamic duo, run the Cornish marathon

Also taking place on Sunday 20th November was the Cornish Marathon: a hilly 26.2 miler, starting and finishing at Pensilver, mid-Cornwall, and taking runners over the undulating roads of Bodmin Moor. If the weather is kind to runners on the day, this race boasts simultaneous views of both the North and South coasts of the county and is popular with runners seeking a friendly, low-key rural marathon. There were two Harrier representatives at the event this year: Dave Stone and Dave Wright.

Dave Stone rates this marathon as one of his favourites and has run it many times in the past. He won the event in 2003 and has had numerous other high placings, including a 3rd in last year's race. This year, however, his time of 3.01.56 was 10 minutes down on that of 2010 and just saw him make the top 10 finishers, placing 9th overall. He was, nevertheless, top man on the day in the MV40 category.

Dave Wright was tackling this particular event for the first time, though he is no novice to the marathon distance. Encouraged by his strong performance at the Dartmoor Vale marathon in October this year, Dave was unphased by the hills and unpredictable moorland weather conditions, and he ran a strong race for 53rd position overall and 4th MV50 in a time of 3.33.46. The race was won by Noel Kindon of Cornwall AC in a time of 2.44.15. There were 240 finishers.

11 Harriers storm the castle!

Sunday 20th November saw no less than 11 Exmouth Harriers storm Castle Drogo en masse. No, they had not turned militant, they were in fact there to tackle the Drogo 10. This is an extremely tough, 10 mile race that takes place within the grounds of Castle Drogo in Drewsteignton. The route offers a wide variety of running surface to keep the runners guessing. These include rutted muddy tracks, fields, steep zig-zag paths, a suspension bridge and even a cattle grid is thrown in for good measure! Due to this and to the steepness of the climbs and descents, the race tends to attract some high quality competition at the top end. The weather on the day started off looking ominous but the cloud lifted just in time as around 500 hardy souls toed the start line and prepared to charge off down the main castle drive. Of the 495 eventual finishers, all the Harriers were well placed.

Anchoring them home was the in-form Jamie Palmer, who ran superbly to finish in 1.10.41: a good time on such a tough course and it saw Jamie place 19th overall and 4th MV40. Next in was the ever-consitent Mike Musgrove, 26th overall and 7th MV40 in 1.11.34. He was shortly followed by Richard Bishop in 1.13.56. This secured him 36th place overall and 9th MV45: a very strong category on the day with 3 of the top 4 finishers coming from this age group.

Jon Garrity ran well for 59th place in a time of 1.16.35. Chris Dupain also made the top 100 finishers, 94th in 1.21.49. His sister Emma wasn't too far behind him, having a solid run for 130th position overall and a hard earned 12th spot in the female race in 1.25.02. Scott Jordan was hot on Emma's heels, 8 places behind her in 1.25.49. Next in was Terry Oldham, 157th in 1.27.20, followed by Ben White, 183rd in 1.30.34. Lorraine Gilson ran well for 215th in 1.34.13, which placed her well up the rankings in her female vet 50 category. Rounding off a collection of fine performances for the Harriers was Dawn Teed, 346th in 1.46.23.

The race was won by Ceri Rees of Poole Runners in an impressive 1.01.22.

Monday, 7 November 2011

Adam takes on Torbay at the Templer 10

On Sunday 6th November, under a cloudless sky and with a crisp, cooling breeze that formed ideal running conditions, Adam Miller hopped across the river to take part in the Teignbridge Trotter organised Templer 10 race. A bit of a misnomer as the course actually mesures in at 9.7 miles, but that would spoil the alliteration, hence the title!

This is a multi-terrain route that starts and finishes alongside the River Teign at the Passsage House Hotel in Kingsteignton. It gets its name from the Templer Way that forms part of the route as runners head out to do a loop of the Stover Country Park. It is a flat course but runners are slowed by the various tree roots, mud, stiles, slippery wooden bridges and sharp turns that they have to negociate.

As in previous years, Torbay AC were out in force and a force to be recokened with they always are. This did not phase Adam though who set off behind last year's 1st and 2nd placed finishers, Lee Turner and Peter Monaghan, and a third Torbay AC athlete, Jon Parkinson. A little way in and Jon pulled away from Adam and by the time the runners reached Stover Park he was out of sight. Adam stuck to his task though and kept running hard and as he emerged from the park, at about the 5 1/2 mile marker, he caught site of Jon again and gradually closed the gap before going past him at about 8 1/2 miles. Unfortunately, chasing him down left Adam slightly depleted in energy and he didn't have it left in the legs to keep ahead of him, so he passed Adam again, putting Adam into 4th place as they crossed the finish line. How frustrating for our Harrier as the gap between 2nd and 3rd place was almost 3 minutes, yet the gap between 3rd place and Adam in 4th was a mere 6 seconds! Adam finished in 57.13. Peter Monaghan won the race, finishing just 1 second ahead of Torbay club mate Lee Turner in a time of 53.43. With 3 Torbay athletes in the top 3, small wonder then that Torbay scooped the male team prize!

Another member of Torbay AC, Wendy Urban, won the women's race in 64.10, from Karen Cook of SWRR in 2nd.

Despite coming 4th - usually the frustrating so-near-yet-so-far position that puts you as the first runner not to win a prize, at this race there were prizes for the top 5 men and women and Adam also won a prize for 1st place in the male vet 35 category. Quite a lucrative day out then!

Susan Hill was also competing in a Harrier's vest and ran a strong race taking her to 146th position overall and 5th in the female vet 50 category. Bravo!

There were 242 finishers.

Mike yomps to victory at the Yarcombe Yomp!

The weekend of 5th / 6th November proved to be a hectic one on the Exmouth Harriers' racing calendar, and events all got off to a superb start on the Saturday with Mike Musgrove winning the 10 mile Yarcombe Yomp.

Staged by Axe Valley Runners and starting in the village of Yarcombe, both 10 mile and 5 mile options are offered, both being tricky, off road courses around the countryside. For the Harriers Mike Musgrove tackled the 10 mile route and his wife Nic and fellow female Harrier Siobahn Trapnell competed in the 5 mile event.

After the week's heavy rain it proved to be a very muddy affair, starting out across a series of fields and tracks and then leading up a long, steep climb to the top of the valley. After negotating a tricky section through a wood, we dropped down to the start/finish line. This was the finish for the 5 mile event but the 10 milers had the joy of repeating the process and running a second lap.

Special mention must go to Nic and Siobahn. This was Nic`s first off roader and she said she loved it. Both ladies are graduates of the Exmouth Harrier's beginners' running course and so the fact that they are now competing in tough, off-road events is testimony to the hard work that they have put into their running in the last few months. Siobahn took the victory in the 5 mile female race, finishing in 52.12, for 5th place over all (out of 15 finishers). Nic was hot on her heels, completing in 60.17, 10th place over all and 5th lady. Mike suggests that her short interlude en route to talk to a number of cows and their owner halfway round the course might have affected this time and may have been a cover up for taking a rest and enjoying the stunning views over the valley.... Nic denies this allogation!

In the 10 miler, Mike took a clean victory from the 60 runners, finishing in an impressive time of 1h14.30 - 2 clear minutes ahead of the 2nd placed runner, Nic Smith from Sidmouth RC - and putting to bed those bothersome achillies niggles that he was experiencing back in October.

The event finished off in the village hall where a lovely selection of soup and the biggest selection of homemade cakes Mike haas ever seen awaited the runners!

Well done to all 3 Harriers!

Is this the Yarcombe Yomp or the Yarcombe Romp? ... Jury's out!

Monday, 31 October 2011

Harriers hit Dorset for 'The Stickler'

Left: Manwell - 3rd fastest dog of the day, showing off his prize - doesn't he look thrilled about it?!
Right: The finish line of the race on platform 1, Shillingstone station. This pair clearly hadn't understood that this is a running race and the use of alternative transport results in disqualification.

On Sunday 30th October 6 Harriers (plus two supporters and a dog!) travelled to the village of Shillingstone in Dorset for the Dorset Doddler's organised 'Stickler' race. Also known as 'the three peaks challenge', this is a tough, off-road 10 miler that takes runners up and down three substantial hills, the tallest of which stands at 800ft, that form a horseshoe around the village.

The race proved very popular this year as 495 places of the maximum 500 were sold and so the narrow start and initial climb proved to be a bit of a bottle neck. This did not deter our 6 Harriers though who were all determined to beat the hills and have a strong run.

The race finishes in a rather quaint setting: on platform 1 of the old Shillingstone Station, which was closed in 1966 but is now open as a museum and tea rooms. Us two supporters - myself, Ellie, and Gareth, Lorraine's son - waited patiently on a bench on platform 2 for the runners to return.

Leading the Harriers home was Caroline Pleaseance. On the drive up Caroline mused that she always comes 4th in races, however, today they were offering prizes to 4th, so she predicted that she'd come 5th! Rubbish! She was in fact to come in a very strong 3rd place in the women's race and 41st overall, finishing just over a minute behind the 1st female runner in a very good time for such a tough course of 1.19.43. The curse of the 4th is broken! (Although her prize was a selection of local cheeses - not ideal for someone who doesn't like cheese!)
Caroline finishes an impressive 3rd in the ladies race - woo!

Next in for the Harriers, having a very strong race, was Terry Oldham. Terry completed the 10 miles in 1.28.41, giving him 113th place overall and 28th male V/50 - how strong a category was that?!
Full of running: Terry finishing very comfortably

Scott Jordan would have hoped to have given Terry a run for his money and was indeed in front of him for the opening few miles, but Terry pipped him on one of the hill climbs. Scott still ran well though for 174th place overall in a time of 1.34.16. He reported that the course was seriously slippery in places... in fact, he looked as though he'd brought half the course back with him as a souvenir, he was that caked in mud!
Scott finishing with Hambledon Hill - the last of the 3 hills the runners had to climb - visible behind him.

Next in, celebrating her... well, I won't say which birthday precisely, but she runs in the V/50 category, so you can take a guess, was Lorraine Gilson. Obviously fired up by the promise of some post-race birthday wine, Lorraine ran a stormer of a race, finishing just over a minute behind Scott in 1.35.43. The race entry was a birthday present to her by Terry and she clearly made the most of it!

Not far behind Lorraine was Dawn Teed. Dawn is renowned for choosing some of the most difficult races in area, having competed in the tough off-road Black Death run, Haytor Heller, Tywyn Race the Train, Charmouth Challenge and Sidmouth 10k, to name but a few this year, so this 10 miler won't have phased her. She finished in a time of 1.40.48 for 243rd place overall.

Last but by no means least was Katie Comer running the race with her dog, border terrier, Manwell! Katie was suffering with a slight cold and some other, rather more self-inflicted, grievances(!) and so she set out just to enjoy the race, this being the first race she's done with Manwell in tow. Manwell coped just fine, and it was in fact him doing the towing as he pulled Katie down the steep downhill sections a little faster than she might have liked! They finished in a time of 1.42.57, 252nd place, BUT, most crucially, they finished 3rd owner-dog pairing. Well done to them!
Katie and Manwell finish as the 3rd fastest owner+dog combo - bravo!

Harriers after the race with their momento hats - don't they look, er.... stupid?!

As it was Lorraine's birthday and this was a trip out, a hard earned post-race visit to the village pub, the Ox in, for Sunday lunch rounded off the proceedings. A good day out all round!

Happy, hungry Harriers tuck into their post-race nosh!

Ellie runs the Snowdonia marathon (in hurricaine-like conditions!)

On a very dismal day, Ellie and 2000 ish other runners lined up on the start line on the shores of Llyn Peris for the 29th annual Snowdonia Marathon. (Loving my lucky race number - is it to be my year? ... Read on to find out!)

To round of the half term week, I, Ellie Sutcliffe, headed off to North Wales to take part in the Snowdonia Marathon. This year was the 29th running of the event and over the years the race has built up a fearsome reputation for itself and is now dubbed as the toughest marathon in Europe. It gets this reputation not only from its hilly profile - you run 2400 feet of total ascent over the 26.2 miles - but also from the truly horrendous weather conditions that the race has come to expect over the years. In neither of these respects did this year's race fail to live up to its tough standards!

At 10.30am on Saturday 29th October, I and over 2000 other hardy and yet ever-so-slightly masochistic runners gathered on the start line on the shores of Llyn Peris (Lake) at the foot of the Llanberis Pass. Already soaked to the skin from the 10 minute walk in torrential rain from my friend's house in Llanberis where I was staying to the start line, my toes and fingers were numb and I had forgotten my gloves. Luckily I bumped into an old friend from when I lived in the area who was spectating and she lent me a pair!

Facing us was a nice gentle start to the race: just a 4 1/2 mile climb of around 900 feet to ease us in. Add to this that the gale force winds and driving rain that were totally against us and blowing down the pass to further hinder our progress and basically I was knackered at 4 miles in and my target for the race was beginning to change from competing to place top 5 to just completing the ruddy thing!

At the top of the pass my lungs were heaving but then came a lovely long descent of 7 miles to get my puff back and get into a good stride. The first off-road section came at mile 6 and was on a track of shingly slate - lethally slippery when wet! I had passed a couple of women on the climb but one of them came back at me on the descent and I found myself sitting in 2nd place at around 8 miles. This attracted me the attention of the S4C camera crews on their motorbikes who then rode just a meter in front of me for most of the race from this point on. Nothing like feeling rotten, looking like grim death, and wanting to wipe snot off your nose, all whilst having a camera permenantly thrust in your face to make you feel good!!

The road to Beddgelert, which sits at the halfway point, was winding but at least quite sheltered as down in the valley. Another couple of women passed me at this point but I didn't panic as I knew I would be strong on the last climb at the end if I just left something in the tank, so I let them go and sat in 4th place for the next 7 or so miles.

The climb out of Beddgelert is a long, slow drag that goes on for 4 miles. Despite the fact that we were going in the opposite direction to the pass we seemed to have attracted yet another headwind... just marvellous! I managed to pull back a female runner on this stretch and moved up to third. Though shortly after, another woman, being paced by a man from her running club, shot past me at an astouding pace. I'd no idea where she came from but obviously had found a second wind!

This next section of road that winds along the south side of Snowdon seemed to take forever. Normally there would be lovely views here as a distraction but today they were totally obscured by cloud! I plodded on, soaked to the bone and with my legs feeling heavy due to all the ran water my leggins had absorbed. I was actually looking forward to mile 21 and the turn up onto the mountain track just for a change of scenery and pace! I love hill climbing and as soon as we got onto this steep section I started to pick off loads of runners. Some male runners turned the corner, took one look at it and slowed to a walk straightaway without even giving it a bash... wimps!

About a mile up the hill another female runner came into sight ahead and I was gaining on her. My legs felt strong and I just kept bashing out small steps and I overtook her nearing the top of climb. I knew that another female runner, who has this year represented Britain at fell and ultra running, was somewhere behind me. Although I hadn't seen her the whole race I knew from previous years she has pulled herself up several places with her skills and experience on this last steep mountain section, so when it came to the downhill I knew I couldn't hang about. It was blowing a gale on the top of Moel Ellio - the mountain standing between Waunfawr and Llanberis, the finish, and I kept getting blown sideways into the puddles I was trying to avoid! I threw myself down the hill and put 3 minutes distance between the woman I'd overtaken at the top.

Leaving the rugged and treacherous mountain path to rejoin the tarmac with just over 1 mile left to go!

Turning into Llanberis High Street was a great moment. The crowds were out in their droves, despite the weather. I crossed the finish line in 50th place overall and 3rd female in a time of 3h13m50s. Us top 3 women were within 2 minutes of each other and the positions had changed throughout, making it an interesting race. My legs were shot to pieces, I was cold and knackered but thrilled. They had said that this year the competition was tougher than ever and so I had thought that 5th was the very most I could hope for, so 3rd hadn't really sunk in. Then when I went to the presentation ceremony I got announced as 2nd female. Very confused as clearly 2 women had crossed the line in front of me. Rumours abounded but upon further study it seems that the lady who finished 2nd was a V/40 and so got the prize for that instead, which moved me up to 2nd in the open. An old Bangor university friend of mine, Rob Samuel, won the race outright in an astounding time of 2h36m45m - thrilled for him!

No rest for the wicked though, a quick bath and some food and I was dropped at Bangor station for the 7 hour train ride back to Devon. There were times during this particular race when I questioned why I was putting myself through such torture, but you soon forget that after and I'll probably sign up for next year and try and better my performance... one thing's for sure, the conditions couldn't be any worse!

On Llanberis High Street and the finishline is in sight - thank goodness!

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Caroline staggers into a staggering 4th place at the Exmoor Stagger!

Whilst there was action on Dartmoor in the form of the Tavy 7 on Sunday 23rd October, there was also action on Exmoor that same day with the Minehead Running Club's Exmoor Stagger 15 race. Billed as being 15.1 miles long, it was in fact nearer to 16 on Caroline's Garmin. Mind you, this running club also stage a race in the summer called the Seaview 17... this one is 21 miles long! You get the picture?!

Anyway, whether 15 or 16 miles, it is a tough, multiterrain race with plenty of ascents and descents thrown in to disrupt the runner's rhythm. With a route that passes through woodland tracks, fields and moorland and has spectacular seaviews in places, it is a favourite of the hard-core off-raoders fraternity and competition was correspondingly high.

The race was won by James Baker of Chichester AC (yes, the same James Baker that got beaten and has his course record pinched off him by our Ethiopian visitor, Berihu, at this year's Haytor Heller!) in a time of 1h52m06s.

The winner of the women's race was Emma Hitchens of South West Road Runners, in an impressive 8th place overall, in a time of 2h11m16. She was followed by Clare Prosser of Wells City in 2nd and Lin Lascelles of Maiden Newton in 3rd. All three of these ladies are established good runners across country, and so Caroline Pleaseance can feel very proud to have come a creditable 4th place behind them in such a quality field. Caroline clocked 2h28m26s and placed 40th overall out of 234 finishers. Very well done!

Caroline joked, 'Humph. I always come fourth', but then, so did Paula Radcliffe to start with, and look what she went on to achieve.....! :-)

Monday, 24 October 2011

Dave E. and Ellie tackle the Tavy 7

Harriers' Blog Meister Ellie and Press Guru Dave in a remote field on Dartmoor awaiting the start of the Tavy 7 mile race!

A race on Dartmoor in late October is never going to be run in the best of conditions but not even the race organisers of the Tavy 7 had predicted the strength of the winds that awaited them and the runners on Sunday 23rd October on Plaster Down, near Whitchurch, Tavistock. So strong were the gusts of wind that they were unable to errect any of the planned marquees. This meant no changing facilities, no baggage tent, no registration tent (just some very large rocks to stop the piles of race numbers from blowing away!) and so the whole event had a friendly low-key feel to it as all 400+ runners gathered in a field still inhabited by its usual dwellers - some hardy Dartmoor sheep - and waited the start of the Tavy 7 mile race. Amongst them were Dave Eveleigh and myself, Ellie Sutcliffe, for the Harriers.

The race was not run last year and this year its return saw a new venue and a change to the course: a very scenic 7 miles on what the organisers described as 'mildly undulating' country lanes... hmm, not too sure about the adverb "mildly" and "undulating" tends to mean a different thing on Dartmoor anyway!

417 runners started the race and of those 380 completed it. The very strong headwind (at times it felt as though you were running into a hurricaine!) in the last mile and a half may have finished some of those 37 DNFers off. The winner was the very in-form Jim Cole from the host club, Tavistock AC, in an impressive time of 37.16. This was over 2 minutes clear of fellow club mate Adam Holland.

The women's race was won by, er... me, in a time of 45.49. The first 5 miles went fine but the last 2 were a struggle as my legs started to feel heavy with the 10 mile race from the previous day in them and then as I turned the corner into the last mile and a half I was hit by the monstrous headwind. I battled hard not wanting to be caught by a chasing group behind me and managed to increase my distance over the last mile. I finished in 11th place overall. The next woman was over 3 minutes behind me, so I was very pleased with that run.

As the course changed this year, both Jim and I are the proud holders of the new course records... for a year at least!

Dave Eveleigh also found the going tough with the strong wind and he also felt that the uphill stretches far outnumbered the downhill... we'll overlook the fact that it was a circular course and just nod in agreement! He was aiming for a time under the hour and would most certainly have got that in better conditions, but with the wind being as it was he just missed out by a mere 19 seconds, clocking 60.19 for 187th place - putting him inside the top 50% of runners - and in 11th place in his V/55 age category.

We both agreed that the race was well organised with a good, friendly vibe to it and the quality of the cakes in the refreshments corner was superb! We left windswept but giving thanks that at least the rain had held off and we didn't get a soaking!

Dave finishing strongly at the Tavy 7

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Wey-hey for the Weymouth 10 mile!

It's half term and this means only one thing: I, Ellie Sutcliffe, am free from work for a whole week and so let the racing commence!

I decided I could fit a cheeky 10 miler in on my way home from Dorset so headed down to the coast to Weymouth to run in the golden anniversary Weymouth 10 mile race.

With the race celebrating 50 successful years since its inaugural run, the race organisers - the Egdon Heath Harriers - decided that it would be a fun idea to issue the momento golden anniversary bright yellow tee-shirt at registration and make everyone not competing as part of a team wear it for the race. The result: a sea of bright yellow making its way along the promenade!

The race started and finished at the Pavillion at the south-western end of the promenade and the first and last 2 miles were on the total flat stretch of the prom. At mile 2 we climbed up a rather nasty hill and then dropped down the other side into Osmington. We then headed back to Weymouth and tackled the same hill for the second time (albeit at about 1/2 a minute mile slower than the first time!) and repeated the loop, then headed back along the prom.

With not having raced for 7 weeks (what felt like an eternity to me!) I was totally fired up mentally for this one. Physically, however, I was getting over a kidney infection and still on antibiotics. The question 'should you even be running?' had been asked by many but I was so race-starved that I thought I'd give it a try and see how I felt on the day. It's amazing what a strong cup of pre-race coffee and adrenaline can do for you on the day!

I started out far too fast, as per usual. Why I thought I could feasibly keep up 5.20 m/m pace for 10 miles I'll never know! By the end of the 2 mile stretch on the prom all the 400 ish runners had settled into place and I could see 2 females about 20 meters in front of me, one of them being from Poole Runners and who, at 10 years my junior, had previously denied me victory at the Blandford Bridges 10k race back in June... she's fast becoming my Dorset nemesis! The other female started to pull away up the steep hill climb but I managed to keep the young Poole athlete in my sights.

The last 2 miles back on the prom were into a very strong headwind and I began to pay for my early pace and flag a little. Because the bay curves so much, the finish looks pretty close 2 miles out, but it seems to take forever to get to it! The girl who beat me in Blandford extended her lead to about a minute at this point and I remained in 3rd place in the female race and finished in a new PB time of 65.18, in 30th spot overall (out of 372 finishers). Quite chuffed with that time considering the 2 hills and the headwind. Also quite chuffed with the M and S voucher as a prize: not just any prize, an M and S prize!

Both the male and female winners set new course records. The winning male, Chinhanhu Williard of Poole Runners, ran 53.03 and the winning female, Emma Dews of Littledown Harriers, clocked 62.57. Competition was tough this year!

Off back home to Exmouth afterwards for a good night's sleep as on tomorrow's agenda is the Tavy 7 mile!

Finishing the 10 mile race on the Weymouth sea front in the special issue golden anniversary yellow tee-shirt!

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Meanwhile, across the river...

On Sunday 16th October, energized by the club's success at the Parrett Trail event the previous day, 4 Harriers crossed the River Exe to Newton Abbott where they tackled the Dartmoor Vale races. Fortunately for them, none of them opted to run in the 10k event as this apparently went slightly awry with marshalls misdriecting runners, with some ending up completing 12k and finishing a good 8 - 10 minutes down on their usual times... ooooops. Our four runners though were entered into the marathon and half marathon events and managed to escape this fiasco!

In the full marathon - which forms 2 loops of the half marathon course, around the Teign Valley - David Wright stormed home in 31st position overall but, impressively, taking 2nd place in his male V/50 category in a time of 3h26m10s. A new PB for David on what is an undulating course: very well done!

The second Harrier home in the full marathon was Nicholas Brown. Nicholas ran 4h25m29s to claim 97th spot. There were 132 finishers and the race was won by Alan Ryder of Erme Valley Harriers in a time of 2h53m35s.

Meanwhile, in the half marathon event, Dennis Gildea was making a rare appearance on tarmac - off-road trail events usually being his preference. This did not seem to bother him though as he cruised around the course in a new PB time of 89.21 and claiming 18th place in the process.

Caroline Pleaseance was there to make up the female Harriers contingent. Caroline has been running very well of late and was clearly not feeling the effects of having run a strong 2nd leg in the Parrett trail relays the day before as she tore around the course in a time of 92.59. This was good enough for the 4th female spot and 31st place overall. There were 318 finishers and the winner was visiting runner Benjamin Mukherjee of Scarborough RC in a time of 76.24.

Harriers storm to victory setting a new course record in the Parrett Trail Relays

Our victorious men's team with their prizes, L - R: Mike Musgrove, Dave Stone, Adam Miller, Jamie Palmer, Hugh Marsden, Jamie Pearson

It was a very busy weekend for the Harriers with 24 of them (that's 1/4 of the club's overall membership, to put it in perspective!) heading up to Somerset to take part in the Parrett Trail relays. Armed with a minibus and their own personal chauffeur - massive thanks must go to Paul Champion here - they between them ran the length of the River Parret, from its mouth at Bridgwater, Somerset, to the source at Wynyard's Gap, Dorset. Terry Oldham gives the following report:

'The Parrett Trail Relay event, (53 miles along the trail from the sea at Bridgwater to Wynyards Gap in Dorset, split into 6 legs organised by Crewekerne RC since 2003), has been a ‘happy hunting ground’ for the Harriers over the years, with all three prizes having been at some point scooped up by the club; i.e. the Mens, Ladies, and Mixed teams. Last year was another successful year, with the Mens and Ladies teams coming away with first place in their respective categories. Was it going to be another year of success?

Not entirely. The major success was the Mens team once again, with a superb example of competitive running from all six members of the team. This event is very much a favourite of Hugh Marsden and he not only galvanised the club over the last 3 months to enter and recce the various legs, he lead by example with a first place on the first leg. Jaime Palmer repeated that on Leg 2 with a blistering finish on this short but sharp leg, and a not unexpected result given he has the course record for this leg.

Next off on Leg 3 was Mike Musgrove, and a tough challenge for him, given that he had one of the fastest runners in the event to keep at bay, and although coming in second to him, he kept the all important time difference to an absolute minimum. Leg 4 was a chance for Adam Miller to show his mettle, and he duly did, for although he also came in second this was just a few seconds behind first place. The clock was in our favour and just two legs to go.

Well, if you need to make it a sure thing who better to have running the last two legs, but Dave Stone, in fantastic form at the moment, and the newly returned Jamie Pearson, who has the course record for Leg 6. Any doubts? Well, if there were doubts, they were quickly dispelled as Dave left the pack ‘eating dust’ on the first meadow from the start and not to be seen again until the finish, given that he did so some 4 minutes ahead of the second placed runner. This was a 2 minute improvement on last year’s time. Can he get any better?

So with the clock very much in our favour, what happened on Leg 6? Jamie knocked out a 60 minute Leg is what happened and came in a comfortable first place. He may not have looked comfortable when he finished, having to ascend a very long hill to the finish, but it provided the seal on the event for the Mens team. Not quite his course record of 57 minutes but more than enough to put the team back into possession of the rudest trophy on the running circuit, and a bottle of wine each as well.

Next team to finish for the Harriers was the Mixed Team. A tactical change with emphasis on this category rather than on the Ladies team was hoped would bring further success. Unfortunately, there was stronger competition in this category than expected. Having said that there was not much to choose between the first three teams, however, and just 5 minutes between them after 53 miles of running is an achievable target for next year.

The Mens B team came in a creditable 10th place overall. There were no prizes for this team, but there was plenty of rivalry going on within the club, and Leg 4 made an interesting competition between Scott Jordan of the Mixed team and Dave Backway of the Mens B team. Despite a lot of beer riding on the result, Dave decided to stop to speak to Hughie and Scott shot past to take the spoils with just 13 seconds to spare. The Drogo 10 should be an interesting race!

The Ladies team were third in their category, and given it was touch and go as to whether we could find 6 ladies willing to take part, this was a worthy result. Sue Wilkins, in particular, should be mentioned for the courage and commitment she showed to take on Leg 3, given the long and very painful recovery she has had from her shattering (in both senses of the word) ankle injury some 2 years ago.

That’s the report on the event, but it should also be noted that this is a ‘cracking day out Grommet’. The club provided a mini bus and Paul Champion drove it manfully around the narrow lanes of the Somerset levels to get runners to and from the end and beginning of the Legs. The camaraderie was self evident and the support for the runners as they arrived and or left to start their Legs was fantastic. I did not notice another club with the same sense of fun or fervour. Let’s keep it that way.

Finally, a big thank you from the club to Hugh Marsden, (and Dawn Teed), for getting us all there on our respective start lines and for making sure that the Harriers were ‘on tour’ successfully once again.'
Terry Oldham.

In the build-up to the race, Mike Musgrove had been scouting out the competition and had deemed the Running Forever contingent, from Taunton, to pose the biggest threat. Mike adds:

'Once again we were blessed with wonderfull weather, although it did get quite warm as the day went on. From the men's team point of view, we knew the main opposition was the Running Forever team. I am good friends with their team captain, so after much friendly banter and the gaining of some insider info on their runners, we knew we were going to have to go out hard again this year as they shipped in a couple of very good runners. However, they were not quite up to the task as we all ran strongly beating them by 7 mins and beating the record by 11 mins.
The mixed team came in a close third although Scott Jordan and Dave Backway did have a few problems crossing a part of the river which involved losing a shoe(!) but they had a great race coming 15 seconds apart with Scott taking the honours this time.
The mens B team came in 10th with some very strong running also.
The ladies team came in third in their category.'
M. Musgrove

Well done to all the runners and their support crews. Terry tells me that the club has a real "buzz" about it at the moment so let's keep this up!!

Results and individual split times can be viewed on the Crewkerne website, here:

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Dave ups the distance and tackles the Bideford 10 mile

Also on Sunday 9/10/11, on what proved to be a busy day on the South West running calendar, Dave Eveleigh had headed across the county to run in the Bideford 10 mile race. Billed as a super flat course, possibly one of the flatest and fastest in the region, this tempted Dave who wanted to up the distance in early preparation for tackling the Great West Run in Spring.

Somewhat bemused by the labels 'flatest' and 'fastest', but not to the point that he demanded a refund of his entry fee due to the course contravening the trades despcriptions act, Dave ran well nevertheless and finished in just over 90 minutes, finishing 99th out of 173 finishers and 4th man over 55. A good result indeed and confirmation that a half marathon in 2012 is more than within his capabilities. Very well done!

Cross-country season kicks off in Redruth

Summer's over, the unexpected Indian summer is over, rain is surely on the way and with it, mud. Lots of mud. Good time to get the cross-country season underway then!

The Brook's Westward cross-country league runs from October through to March 2012, with races all over the counties of Devon and Cornwall. The first round took place on Sunday in Redruth and four Harriers made the trip south.

In the men's open race there were 113 runners and Jamie Palmer led the Harrier's contingent home in a time of 30.57, good enough for 39th place, 3rd V/40 and bagging him 262 points towards his end of series total (5 races of 6 to count).

Next home was the ever consistent Hugh Marsden, running 31.42 for 46th place and 4th V/50; this earned him 255 points towards the end of season totals. Rounding off the Harrier's performances was Jim Wyatt who clocked 43.08 for 109th place and 192 points. Despite this solid run, this was only good enough to bag him 7th place in the over 60s; a category which looks like it might be particularly competitive this season, as those that were part of the 80s running boom refuse to hang up their trainers and restrict their exercise to a brisk walk to the pub!

In the women's race the competition was just as tough, with internation runner Annabel Gummow winning the race in a sizzling time of 16.47. Dawn Teed was the sole female representative for Exmouth and she finished in 43rd place in a time of 24.19. This earned her 58 points (out of a possible 100) towards the series tally.

Well done to all the Harriers and good luck for round 2 which takes place on November 6th in Newquay.

Monday, 10 October 2011

Dave and Adam place 3rd and 4th at Eden

The Eden Project in St. Austell, Cornwall, provides a unique venue for a tough marathon

Only two Harriers made the intredip voyage south into unknown territories across the border, i.e. Cornwall, for the annual Eden Porject Marathon and Half Marathon events, held on 9/10/11. However, it is most definitely quality and not quantity that matters here as Dave Stone and Adam Miller did the club proud, placing 3rd and 4th in the marathon and half marathon respectively.

For Dave, this is the second time that he has tackled the 26.2 mile hilly, multi-terrain course that starts and finishes against the dramatic back drop of the Eden Porject biomes in St. Austell. It is also the second time that he has placed 3rd at the event too! In 2009 he just managed to dip in under the 3 hour mark, running 2.59.55 to clench the 3rd spot. This year he improved his time to 2.53.44 to place 3rd overall and the top V/40. Dave will surely be pleased that two years on and he is churning out faster times and has not lost any of his fitness. It also shows that standards in running are generally improving across the board as his time from 2009 would have only been good enough for 6th place in this year's race.
If you are still not impressed enough by this performance, I should add that Dave had also taken part in the tough Royal Marine's Commando Challenge on Woodbury Common the day before and was even contemplating going on to run in round 1 of the Brook's Westward Cross Country league, held in Redruth, immediately after the marathon. There is only one word for this: NUTTER!

There were 314 finishers and the race was run by Peter Roper from Poole AC in a time of 2.43.12.

Meanwhile, at the same venue in the half marathon, Adam Miller put in a very strong performance on what is also, like the marathon, a tough, hilly multi-terrain course. Having lived in St. Austell for 25 years, I can confirm that the terrain around Eden is anything but flat, and the mud on some parts of the course will have further slowed the runners. Nevertheless, Adam ran an amazing race which was good enough to bag him 4th place out of 946 finishers! Adam posted a time of 1.23.33, just 3 minutes behind the winner, Andrew Moreton of Kent AC. Those Killerton 5k leg sharpeners have clearly paid off!

Both Harriers thoroughly enjoyed the course and the venue and they particularly praised the post-race pasty and pint that was included in the entry fee. With free entry to Eden after the race for runners and their supporters also included, this is a fun, friendly and good value for money family event. ...Harrier's mini-bus outing next year, anyone?!

A satisfied duo: Dave and Adam after the race, dining out on their satisfying results and even more satisfying post-race pasty and pint!

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Calling all club members: marshalls needed for the Bicton Blister!

Terry Oldham, race director of the Bicton Blister and Blister Lite races that Exmouth Harriers are staging on Sunday 27th November, has asked me to put the following call out to ask for assistance in marshalling the race.

There are a range of tasks available that all need to be covered in order for the race to run smoothly, and the main message is that it's first come, first served as far as the allocation of tasks is concerned. So if you have a specific role in mind, get your shout out to Terry in pronto!!

The job of a marshall is an important one and your help is vital to making sure that the runners have a worry free run (save for the sand, pebbles the size of cats, mud, gorse, hills, more hills etc).

Last year was a huge success for the club financially and for the runners on the day, and having a clearly marked course and well marshalled on the day will be essential to having another successful event this year. The Exmouth Cadets did a great job for us last year, but it is up to our club to ensure that the key points on the route are clearly defined and there is NO chance of anyone being sent the wrong way.

It is also very important that the road crossings are marshalled by both cadets and our own club members as we need to take responsibility for ensuring that these crossings are safe both for the runners but also the cadets. It is a delicate matter, on occasions, getting cars to stop and or slow down so having sufficient numbers on the crossings helps to achieve this.

So how does it all work?

1) You contact me to confirm that you will be available on the day and for the duration of the event. You will need to allow for getting to your marshall point, for the duration of the event, and for getting back again (if you are on one of the out of the way sections of the route). So, allow for 3 – 4 hours of your time.

2) If you agree to do this I ask that you do it. It is always difficult to make last minute changes over the course on the day given its length and character. So, if you know that you are no longer available on the day prior to the day please let me know immediately. We are all volunteers and I understand that ‘things happen’, but just let me know so that I can try and make alternative arrangements.

3) I will allocate a place on the course for you to take responsibility for. If you know the course then that will be a quick conversation and I will know that you can find your spot. If you do not know the course, then we can meet to discuss, or we can do a Bicton run on a Sunday, which is a usual occurrence in late October and early November to go round the course and I can actually show you where you will be.

4) I will give you a large reflective bib with marshall on it. Whoopee! My intention is that I will do this before the day (see 2 above) and will expect you to be at the marshall point on or before 10.45 am on the day. I ask that you text me to confirm that you are in position (no sniggers there) to avoid having hundreds of phone calls to my mobile all at the same time. I will take your mobile number prior to so that I know who is texting me! This way I hope to avoid everyone going to the start area and then back out again.

5) You will then direct the runners and or report back to me if there are problems eg runners in difficulties, etc.

6) You can go home when the ‘sweeper’ arrives. For those who do not know, the race will have one or two ‘sweeper runners’ who follow the last runner (that’s how you know they are the last runner!) so the race is officially over. Once they have gone through then either go home or come down to the finish area to see the prize giving and have a cup of tea.

We all know how much of a boost a cheer and a clap from a marshall can give you when you are struggling in a tough race, so smiley, cheery marshalls with loud booming voices make ideal candidates for this post. Is this you? File your CV and application form to Terry today, and you could spend a glorious morning on the delightful Woodbury Common admiring these views....

Brooks' Winter 3k series gets underway

It's that time of year again already: the night's are drawing in, luring yourself up off the sofa to go for that post-work run becomes more of an effort, you can't find your headtorch and the illuminations on the Exmouth prom have long since failed to thrill you, so what are the alternatives? Well, there is always the Brooks Winter 3k series, held on the first Monday evening of every month throughout the winter at the Exeter athletics arena.

Monday 3rd October saw the staging of round 1 of the series and two Harriers took up the challenge. The number of races depends upon the number of entrants and the races are graded based on predicted finish times, meaning that everyone gets a competitive but not soul destroying race! There were fewer competitors taking part in this opening round than normal, doubtless due to the event coming on the back of a busy weekend racing wise in the region. That said, there were still enough runners - spanning all ages from the under 13s to the 70+ - to be able to stage 5 seeded races.

John Perratt, this time running in Exmouth colours, went in the D race and clocked a very respectable 7th position, finishing in 13:17. (Not bad considering John is a V/70 competitor!!) John was happy with this effort, it being on a par with lasts seasons' times. Dave Eveleigh can be very proud of his opening round efforts. He placed 7th in the C race and his time was a whole half a minute quicker than his best time of 12:53 for last season.

Monday, 3 October 2011

Exmouth hosts the BMAF 10k road championships!

Start of the BMAF 10k road race in Exmouth, with Tony Hatchard leading the Harriers out of the bottle-neck start!

On an unseasonably hot Sunday October 2nd, our quaint little seaside town of Exmouth played host to the British Masters Athletic Federation (BMAF) 10k road running championships. This was a nationwide championship event open to any master's level runner; i.e. only those over 35 years old need apply!

This event proved to be an unexpected challenge for marshals when the glorious weather caused an influx of vehicles and day-trippers to the town. Thankfully great work by the Exmouth Air Training Corps and the patience of most motorists enabled the athletes to complete the race in safety, with those in cars suffering only minimal delays.

A dozen Exmouth Harriers toed the start line here, of a total field of 228 finishers. In the heat of the day, navigating his way around cyclists, buggies, dogs, small children and a whole manner of other obstacle that lay in ambush for the competitiors on the seafront, the outstanding 'home' performance of the day came from Ray Elston who was 158th in 47:47, placing him as 3rd man over 70. Well done to him!

Dave Stone as ever led the Harrier's contingent home in a respectable time of 35.03 for 16th place overall and 4th male over 40, though a mere 17 seconds shy of placing 3rd in that category. Dawn Teed had a strong run to clock 49:47 to finish 172nd and 6th woman over 45 while Roger Rowe, 105th place, timed at 41.41, was also 6th in his category (Men Over 65), a catgeory which proved to be fiercly competitive on the day, drawing out the crème-de-la-crème of veterans from the South West and beyond.

Tony Hatchard and Dave Stone pushing on along the sea front

Mick Allen was 8th male over 70, taking 52:22 for 189th overall, again highlighting the calibre of the super-vet ranks that had been tempted out of their hiding places for the UK championships. However, Ray, Roger and Mick can all congratulate themselves as their collective performance in the V/65+ team category earned them the gold medal! Well done indeed!

Our male vet 65+ team of Roger, Mick and Ray (apologies to Ray on behalf of the photographer - Ellie's Mum - as she could not get a photo of you as you were tucked in behind a group of taller runners!) scooped the gold medal in their category!

In the over 35 men’s category Tony Hatchard was 9th (37:06, 46th overall) and Scott Jordan, unable to match his awesome new PB set in Woodbury last week but churning out another solid performance nevertheless, was 11th (45:22, 139th).

Dawn Teed and Hugh Marsden are usually to be found running off-road; it's a small wonder they didn't file a pre-race request for the route to be diverted onto the beach to avoid the traffic!

In the V/40 category, Mike Musgrove, nursing an achillies injury, was 10th (38:21, 61st place overall) with Richard Bishop following him into 11th V/40 (41:12, 98th). Our male V/35-44 team of Dave, Tony and Mike ran themselves into a bronze medal position. This is also a hotly contested age group so they should be very chuffed with that performance!

Not only did Mike Musgrove and Richard Bishop have to cope with uncharacteristicly hot conditions, but also with an unprecedented volume of traffic along the route!

In what proved to be a very competitive male V/50 categroy, Hugh Marsden had to settle for 15th man over 50, his time of 38:17 giving him 60th place overall; though perhaps if this race had been held on the beach or on some mud instead of the tarmac, Hugh would have felt more at home!
Nigel Dupain was 21st man over 55 (48:38, 166th) and rounding off the proceedings, Les Turner was 15th over 65 male (58:50, 217th).

Many of the runners decided to stay on in Exmouth and make the most of this Indian summer by having a picnic on the beach or a paddle in the sea after!

Despite the heat, Scott Jordan still manages to look cool in his reflector shades... how does he do it?!!

The lesser spotted Dying-Dave; looks as though he's coughing up a lung as he crosses the finish line!

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Double victory for the Harriers at the Woodbury 10k

On Sunday 25th September an impressive turn out of Harriers - 17 of the royal blue blighters in total - descended upon the nearby village of Woodbury for the Woodbury 10k race. Following an undulating, though not massively hilly, route that skirts around the village, this race is a charity event aiming to raise money for Christian Aid and their on-going project of improving living conditions in rural Kenya.

Being literally on the doorstep of Exmouth and Sidmouth, the race turned into a bit of a mob-match between the two respective running clubs. Though Exmouth easily triumphed on the day with victory in the men's race going to our Dave Stone in a time of 35.42, and top spot in the women's race to our own Caroline Pleaseance, clocking 42.11 for 9th place overall.

After Dave there trickled in a steady stream of Harriers, with Mike Musgrove heading them up in 5th position in 39.42, over 2 minutes and 2 placings down on his time from last year unfortunately; am sure Mike will be a bit disappointed with that, but we all have off days! Someone who clearly wasn't having an off day was John Garrity, hot on Mike's heals, in 6th place with 39.48; again John is exhibiting continual improvement since taking up competitive running only earlier this year.

After Jon came Richard Bishop in 7th place with 40.31, shortly followed by the first of a large Dupain contingent, Chris running 40.54 for 8th spot.

Then came Caroline racing to an impressive victory in the female race. She was being chased along by Scott Jordan who had a terrific race for 10th place in 43.56 and bagging a massive new PB in the process, knocking an incredible 7 minutes off his previous 10k best!

The friendly rivalry between Scott and Emma Dupain continues and on this occasion Emma had to settle for 2nd place to Scott and also a useful 2nd place in the women's race with her time of 44.36 - just 1 second slower than her time from last year, talk about consistency!

There was then a gap until the next Harrier, John Lambert, rolled in, in 16th place and in a time of 46.25. This also earned him a tidy 1st place in the V/50 category. Nigel Dupain continued John's success by having a strong run taking him to 22nd place and 1st V/60 in 47.26.

Ben White, also a Dupain in all but name, followed on in 48.09 and 26th place. Then came a bit of a gap before the Mason's cruised home, with Stan clocking 53.55 for 39th place and wife Joan snapping at his heals, just two places behind in 54.07.

Nicola Kelly was next, easily finishing in under the hour in 57.07 and 60th spot overall and she was being chased down by a block of three Harriers with Les Turner heading up the chase in 58.09 (63rd), then Alison Wilkinson in 58.43 (64th) and rounding off proceedings for the Harriers, Lisa Broad, 59.00 and 65th. There were 88 finishers.

This meant that all 17 Harriers completed the course in under the hour. Well done to everyone!

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Run RAB-bit, run RAB-bit, run run run!

Run RABbits, run RABbits, run run run,
Go climb that mountain just for fun fun fun!

No, I haven't gone mad, this little ditty is just to set the theme of the weekend of 24th/25th September, in which 9 Exmouth Harriers made the long trek up to Bethesda in North Wales to participate in the RAB Mountain Marathon. Amongst them was Terry Oldham who has written the following report which gives a real 'flavour' of the event and what our intrepid 9 Harriers had to tackle over the two days!

‘What you doing here then?’

'Taking part in a Mountain Marathon', I replied.

‘Where’s that going to be then?’, was his next question.

‘On a mountain, isn’t it!’, his friend interjected.

Well, the local teenagers wandering around the Dyffryn Ogwen school playing field in Bethesda, North Wales, as it was turning rapidly into a camp site, may not have been the brightest buttons in the box, but I could not deny that mountains play a role in a mountain marathon. And at the RAB Snowdonia Mountain Marathon on the 24th and 25th September, 2011, that role was as principal lead.

My exchange with them occurred while I was trying to erect, (no sniggers there!), David Backway’s tent, in a gale blowing down from the mountains that form such a dramatic backdrop to Bethesda. However, at 9 pm, it was dark, it was raining, I had never seen Dave’s tent before, and I was trying to engage a group of teenagers in conversation made difficult by their strong Welsh accents. I could see that this weekend was going to be about challenges.

For those that are not familiar with the sport, this is essentially a giant orienteering course played out over two days with an overnight camp in the middle. All competitors have to carry all that they need for the camp, including food, and return to the finish with their kit (minus the food!).

So, add to that a course that can take you over 26 miles on each day, with an extraordinary amount of climb, then this is something not to be taken lightly. It has to be said that the elite runners are usually the only ones who cover this sort of distance. For those classed as ‘standard’, then the average mileage is about 13 to 15 miles each day. It will come as no surprise that I was in the ‘standard’ class.

There were a large group of Harriers at the event, with Bob Keast, Paul Champion, Sue Wilkins, Dave Backway, Katie Comer, Lorraine Gilson, Jon and Lorraine Croome, and me, Terry Oldham, all on the start line on the Saturday. The weather on the Saturday morning had not improved much from the overnight strong winds and rain showers, so a challenge indeed.

Lorraine Gilson and I formed one team and we were joined throughout the event by Dave Backway and Katie Comer who formed another. Dave and Katie were new to the sport and so wanted to see a master at work. Why they were running with me I am not sure.

It is difficult to describe the terrain and the competition, and so I hope that there will be some photos to accompany this report in due course (there now are: see below! (ed.). They at least will show the terrain but may not give you full sense of what it is like to try and run over. The rocks and stone are slippery when wet (it was raining), the peat bogs are, well, peat bogs, there is tussock grass, heather, streams, rivers, and very steep ascents and descents. So, running was reserved for the occasional burst unless you were one of the stick thin elite runners who appear to be able to run up and down anything and have x-ray vision.

As for the competition it is all about points and gaining as many as possible in the time available. The first day gives you 6 hours and the second day 5 hours. If you go over the time limit you start to lose points and if you are more than 30 minutes over you lose all the points.

During the day you have no idea how any one is faring save for your own team (or two!). I have to say on the first day we also had no idea of how much time we had, which may explain why we finished about one hour early. I think we were having a Zen moment and so rejected all external goals, or something.

Anyway we had the benefit of choosing the prime location on the camp site, which in itself was in a prime location. A beautiful valley with a river running through it, which was helpful given that that was where we had to get our water from. By this time the weather had turned around to a warm and sunny afternoon and evening, and we had the pleasure of being able to sit in the sunshine and hear the tales of ‘who did what’ that day.

Sunday morning dawned warm and bright and so it was back to the hills for day two. On this day we took on the ‘external goals’ and actually knew what time it was and what course we wanted to attempt, so much for ‘Zen and the Art of Mountain Marathons’.

My route choice took us up the steepest way out of the valley which involved crawling up part of the hill, and who was it who said that the direct approach is not always the best? However, going up steep hills was what we did for most of Sunday and what a great day it was. We four really got in to the swing of it and actually scored some points too. We also got the timing right finishing with a long downward run in to the finish with just 5 minutes to spare.

I am pleased to say that all the Harriers returned intact and to a warm welcome at the finish. As for Dave and Katie I think they are now converted to the sport given that they were discussing the next event (even though still covered in peat bog and sweat, that was just Katie) only a few minutes after the finish.

So, thank you to Bob K and Paul and Sue for inspiring Lorraine and I to return to the hills and for introducing Dave and Katie to the delights of the electronic dibber. Don’t ask!...'

Terry Oldham.

All together now: WHAT IN THE BLUE BLAZES IS AN ELECTRONIC DIBBER? (And most importantly - is it legeal?!)

Pre-event carbo loading in camp!

Just a small hill to start with...

Beautiful Welsh weather for the event!

Slippery when wet! Terry and Lorraine pick their way over the wet rocks with intredipation!

Chairman Bob Keast leads his fellow Harriers through a river crossing

A peat bog! This stealth-like silent killer lay waiting in ambush for Katie to pass and then sucked her in, up to her waist! (Luckily Lorraine was on hand to mount a rescue!)