Exe-rated runners!

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

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Bank holiday action in abundance, both home and away

Reader warning: Epic post to follow. Put on kettle, make tea and get comfy before reading on!

The August bank holiday saw lots of Harriers in action in many different races, both in Devon, Somerset and across (or rather, 'in') the channel. On Friday the Dawlish Coasters staged their 5 mile 'Forest Flyer' race, on Saturday the Killerton Park runs continued, on Sunday there was the staging of the Langport Runner's 'Battle of Sedgemoor 10k', and on the same day, in the Channel Islands, the Guernsey marathon. On the Monday, the Bampton Quarryman's 10k trail race in North Devon rounded off the proceedings. Read on for more detailed reports on Harrier performances at these races.

Dennis flies around the forest in the 'Forest Flyer 5'

After a day of incessant rain, runners participating in the Forest Flyer 5 mile race in Haldon Forest would have been praying for the downpours to ease in time for the 7pm kick-off... but they did not. This did not deter the 129 entrants who tackled the race, amongst them Dennis Gildea for the Harriers. Dennis followed up his strong run in the off-road Dalwood 10k from a couple of weeks ago with a another solid performance in the Haldon forest. With the paths saturated, making the turns slippery, Dennis ran hard to gain a well deserved 18th place in a time of 34.24: a good time on a boggey and slippery trail course.
The event was won by Red Venom runner Sam Hopton in a time of 28.25. Veteran runner Karen Cook of Southwest Road Runners was the first female home.

Adam is the king of Killerton!

On the Saturday Adam Miller continued to show excellent form in the weekly park run 5k event held in the grounds of Killerton House, near Exeter. The course was a little tougher this week owing to the previous day's heavy rainfall making it slippery in places, but this didn't stop Adam from storming around to clock 18.11; a time which was just 10 seconds off his best for this course and which was good enough on the day for 1st place overall. Well done to him!

Adam, Jon and Mike do battle at the Battle of Sedgemoor 10k

The very next day after his park run victory, Adam was all kitted out and ready to run again. The destination for this Sunday bank holiday run was Langport in Somerset and the race, the fast and fairly flat 'Battle of Sedgemoor 10k'. Adam was joined on the start line by fellow Harriers Mike Musgrove and Jon Garrity for this popular 10k race. Our three Harriers did the club proud, all of them finishing high up the pecking order and all setting fresh PBs!

According to Adam: 'The course was reasonably fast, starting on the flat in the town of Langport, rising to the 1.5k mark, then dropping down to the 3k point. The course undulates a bit from then on but is mainly flat with a downhill finish. Rain held off, although the slower runners got caught in a heavy downpour.'

Mike Musgrove headed the Harriers home in 26th position overall, 7th in his category in a VERY strong male vet 40 field (Mike's time converts to 78.46% on an age-graded performance!), and in a new PB time of 36.02. Anyone who's seen Mike race will know what a hard task master he is on himself and will fully appreciate his disappointment at not dipping in under the 36 minute mark. He was, however, pleased that he managed to do what he set out to and clock a new PB and, being only 2 seconds out, it's surely only a matter of time before he runs a sub-36.

Just 39 seconds and 4 places behind Mike was the super consistent Adam, also racing home to an official new race PB of 36.41. I say "official" as Adam has actually run a faster 10k in the first part of the Bath Half-marathon in March, when he was in super form during his London Marathon build up!

The third Harrier home was Jon Garrity. Like Mike and Adam, Jon went to Langport with the goal of setting a new PB and so he was understandably thrilled to storm home in 39.16, knocking a chunk off his previous best of over 40 minutes. Jon was in 55th place overall, meaning that all three Harriers finished in the top 12% of the 450 strong field.

The overall race winner was Steve Galliard from Bideford AC in a time of 31.39. The top female athlete was Emma Pallant of Aldershot, Farnham and District, in a very fast 33.40.

Mike, Jon and Adam at the 'Battle of Sedgemoor 10k', where they all set new PBs!

The marathon in Guernsey was grrrrrrrrr-eat!

Whilst Mike, Jon and Adam were turning on the after-burners and speeding around a fast 10k course in Somerset, I, Ellie Sutcliffe, had headed over the water to Guernsey for the bank holiday weekend to take part in the island's marathon.

When I told friends I was running a marathon on Guernsey their reaction was one of shock: 'Can you fit a marathon into Guernsey?!' But yes, in fact you can! The route heads out of Footes Lane athletic stadium, on the outskirts of St. Peter Port. It climbs uphill for the first 5 miles to the airport, which is the highest point on the island, and from there you drop down to meet the coast road which you follow for the next 16 miles as it twists and turns around the island's many inlets and bays. The route is truly stunning and the support from the islanders, who turned out in droves to cheer on the runners, was second to none. Only the last 4 miles were in a more built-up area and traffic became a problem. The winner, Nils Strik from Holland, who set a new course record in a blistering 2h30m47, even collided with an impatient driver who pulled out in front on him. Fortunately no harm was done.

Prior to the race I had a bit of a shock when I read in the race newsletter that I was favourite to win in the ladies' race. Considering the generous prize money on offer, I found this rather incredulous and the race director chap clearly didn't know my previous record of perpetually finishing 2nd in marathons! It also put a tremendous amount of pressure on me to produce the goods on race day! On the day, however, I felt in really good form after a solid summer's build up and a week's taper, and so I decided to go for it.

Due to the first 5 miles being uphill, I worked hard to not do my usual trick of tearing off like a loon. Once I hit the highest point I stepped up the pace and then on the long stretch on the coast road there was a pleasant tail wind to help me along, so I could 6.45 m/m quite comfortably.

There were only 150 something entrants, down on numbers from last year, but there were a handful of good male competitors from overseas. I ran almost all of the race completely alone, which is how I like it as I can concentrate on my own pacing without getting caught up in mini-battles on route, and I slowly picked off 3 other male runners along the way. I felt strong until mile 22; it was only after mile 23 that my pace dropped to 7.20 minute miling, but by then the finish was within spitting distance, so I dug in. The cheesy motivational signs - 'Pain is only momentary, quitting lasts forever'; 'Winner's don't wait for chances, they take them' etc. - that the marshalls had put up in the final 6 miles didn't really help, but they made me smile!

In the final half mile I turned a corner and saw another runner ahead, in fact this was the only other runner I'd seen since mile 20. He seemed to be struggling and I was gaining on him, so I used this to help me pick up my pace in the final stretch. We entered the stadium neck and neck but he put on a faster sprint finish than me and won our little battle! I later found out that he finished 5th overall and I finished 6th and 1st female in a new PB time of 3h03.49, running my first ever negative split! I was utterly thrilled, but then found out after that I was less than 3 minutes off the female course record, set by ultra runner Heather-Foundling Hawker in 2009, and I kicked myself for not pushing a bit harder in the last 4 miles! Oh well, it's just an excuse to use my winnings to pay for a trip back next year and have another bash at what was a superbly organised, super friendly and very special event.

Anyone up for making it a Harriers' holiday next year?! :-)

On the long stretch of coast road on Guernsey. The views were stunning!

I'll never forget this moment!

Bampton Quarryman's 10k trail race

Anyone who has run with Mark Thompson on a club run on the common will know how much he loves his off-road running and also how darn good he is at it. In fact, he makes it look effortless as he bounds off on his tip-toes like a fairy on fully charged Duracell batteries, whilst the rest of us are left flogging ourselves to death 100m behind, trying to keep him in our sights... it's quite sickening to watch!!! Small wonder then that the Quarryman's 10k trail race in Bampton, Devon, attracted Mark to cross the county on bank holiday Monday to tackle this tough off-road route.

The course, starting at the Quarryman's Inn, Bampton, is hilly, as you would expect for a race on the edge of Exmoor. It passes over Bampton Common and the terrain underfoot ranges from tracks to open fields and there is also the added challenge of 3 stiles to negotiate. These obstacles did not phase Mark though, who bounded around the 10k course in 45.52: an impressive time for such a tough route. This was good enough to bag him 8th position overall out of the 58 finishers. Bravo!

Monday, 22 August 2011

Tough times at Torbay 10k

A balmy summer's evening on August 21st in Torquay saw nearly 600 runners gather on the start line by the Pavillion Shopping Centre to take on the Torbay Regatta 10k road race. The course takes runners along the seafront in Torquay, up the hill out of the town and then down into Paignton, where it circles Paignton Green twice before looping back to Torquay and finishing on the grassy headland at Corbyn Head.

It is the official course for the Devon County 10k championships and so it always attracts a very high quality field of runners from all over Devon and also the neighbouring counties of Cornwall, Somerset, Dorset and Avon too.

Bets were on as to who would win the men's race with the top two contenders being the in-form, second claim Exmouth Harrier, Tom Merson, and the Newham and Essex athlete Kairn Stone, who has had a quiet summer season but is now coming back into form. On the night Stone took the victory in 31.39 from Merson who ran a very strong race for 2nd in 31.53. The female race was also of a high caliber, with Lucy Hodgson of Newquay Road Runners taking the win in 38.01. There were 544 finishers.

The Harriers did not discredit themselves at all and the 7 who competed all ran well within themselves, achieving some good individual results.

Heading them home was Mike Musgrove. Just back from 2 weeks holiday in France where du vin, du pain et du boursin were on the menu, as well as the odd trail run to keep up the fitness, Mike reported at the end that he felt a little heavy and sluggish around the course and didn't feel as though it was his best performance. That said, however, his time of 37.13 on an undulating course was still good enough for 15th place overall and, even more impressive, Mike claimed the top spot in the Vet 40 category; this is always a tough category at any race but particularly so in the Devon county champs, so well done to him.

Next home for the Harriers and having a very good run was Adrian Kearns who finished in 34th place overall and 4th Vet 40. According to a little stalking of his athlete profile on 'The Power of Ten' conducted by myself, this is Adrian's first 10k in recent years, so his time of 39.12 is a credit to him and his training.

Next in came your's truly, Ellie Sutcliffe. A little leg weary after the Exeter 10k 4 days before I just couldn't seem to get fired up for this one, so I was strangely not too annoyed when I saw 3 or 4 women shoot off into the distance from the start. I decided to use it as a leg sharpener before my marathon next Sunday so I didn't over cook it and just managed to dip in under the 40 minute mark, clocking 39.56 to take 41st place overall, 8th female and, pleasingly, 1st in my senior age catgeory (we won't mention how many vets were ahead of me!)...

Next up was the ever-consistent Andy Johnson. Having already raced hard in Exeter the previous Wednesday and still harbouring a slight calf injury, he did very well to clock a time of 42.49 which gained him 68th place overall and 5th in the Vet 45 catgeory.

And now to our super vet, John Perratt. John runs in the Vet 70 category and usually manages to come out on top, or very near it, in his races. For some reason the results have not attributed an age category to him on this occasion, but it looks as though there were no other vet 70s in front of him, so he is the likely victor in his age group. He ran an impressive 49.42 to take 212th place overall. To be just outside the top third of all competing runners at age 70+ gives you some idea of how good an athlete John is.

Cruising in next was Stan Mason to take 291st place in 53.36. All the more impressive, Stan-the-man-that-can even managed to muster the energy to encourage and assist chivalrously a struggling, young female runner on the run in to the finish line! Meanwhile, Stan's wife Joan was hot on his heals, coming home just behind in 313th place overall and a very creditable 4th in her female Vet 50 category in a time of 54.28.

Well done to all the Harriers - go wear your top quality :-/ gold finisher's medals with pride!

The start of the Torbay
Regatta 10k road race

Mike looking strong as he approaches the finish

Mike and Ellie looking ever so slightly dorky with our "gold" medals!

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Hugh and Dawn 'Race the Train'!

Our off-road-loving duo, Hugh Marsden and Dawn Teed, travelled up to Tywyn in Mid Wales this weekend (20th Aug) to face the annual challenge 'Race the Train'. This race takes runners alongside the Talyllyn railway for 7 miles out before they turn around and head the 7 miles back to the start, all the while racing a steam train, crammed with families, supporters and press crews, in addition to racing against the 900+ other runners. Sounds simple huh? Not exactly...

For runners, no such luxury as a warm, comfortable seat on the train with nice views to admire; they must concentrate and run hard the whole way as the course is multi-terrain, leading them through some rough tracks and paths as well as some very boggy fields, some of which have a steep camber to them. The train takes around 1h47m to complete the 14 mile out and back journey, which includes a 10 minute stop to take on water for the steam engine at the farthest point. Runners hoping to beat it cannot afford to take a 10 minute break; they must press on! This year's race also threw in the added challenge of heavy rain which lasted for the duration of the race. Small wonder then that the race has carved an iconic status for itself amongst the trail running fraternity, and small wonder too that some of the runners who signed up did not even manage to finish. Not the case for our Exmouth pairing, however, who have run this race many times before and who knew what to expect.

Hugh had an absolute stormer of a race. He not only beat the train by over 10 minutes, but his impressive time of 1.36.04 was good enough for 40th place overall (out of a strong field of 918 finishers) and, amazingly, our off-roadster scooped the Male Vet 50 top prize! A massive achievement considering this race attracts some really good quality athletes and the heavy rain this year made the going under foot even tougher.

Dawn seemed a little disappointed in her performance, it being 7 minutes slower than the time she clocked last year. She wondered if competing in a few too many races of late had taken the buzz out of her legs, and also the bad weather will not have helped returning athletes seeking to run a course PB this year. She finished just outside the top two thirds of athletes overall, in 623rd place, and 91st female in a time of 2.17.01. When you consider that the last runner home took a sedate 3.37.48, Dawn has nothing to berate herself for.

The first runner home was Andrew Hunt of Cardiff AAC who ran a blistering 1.21.31. The first female runner was Sarah Ridehalgh of Accrington Road Runners, just behind Hugh in 1.36.59.

For anyone interested in running next year's race, entries are already open and entries online are currently frozen at 2011 prices! Go to: www.racethetrain.com for more information and to sign up... if you think you are tough enough to beat the train!

Friday, 19 August 2011

Dave, Roger, Andy and Ellie do Exeter and Dennis does Dalwood!

For some race-hungry Harriers, competing only at the weekend simply isn't enough and so the addition of a couple of Wednesday night races in the region this week was a welcome bonus!

Exeter 10k

The Iron Bridge Runner organised Exeter 10k was a new addition to the summer running calendar this year. Originally designed to be a part of the 'Tour de Exeter', the Tour got cancelled due to lack of numbers but thankfully Pete and the organisers at Iron Bridge decided to retain the 10k race. Run over the same course as the South West Road Runner's First Chance 10k, the Exeter 10k provides a fast and flat 2 lap circuit alongside the River Exe and Exeter canal, starting and finishing at the quayside near the Haven Banks Leisure complex.

237 runners registered for the race, not bad at all for an inaugural event, and they were headed up by a strong contingent from the Bristol and West club, which included Exmouth Harrier's second claim athlete, Tom Merson. On what were perfect conditions for running - not too hot, no wind - four (and a half, counting Merson!) Harriers lined up on the start line and prepared to do battle!

Tom Merson won the event in a highly impressive time of 31.03. He was hoping to dip under the 31 minute mark but reported going off too fast in the early stages and so ran a couple of slower kilometres mid-race which just took the edge off his time. It was nevertheless an impressive run considering he'd just run hard over 10'000m the previous weekend.

I, Ellie Sutcliffe, suffered a similar fate. I went out like a raging lunatic, determined to beat my 10k PB of 39.45, set previously on this same course in January. At the half way mark I was flagging but in the lead so this spurred me to fight hard to the finish. Approaching the finish line I could see the clock ticking on towards 38 minutes. I battled to try and dip in under that time but didn't quite get there, finishing in 38.04. I was very pleased to cut 1m41s off my PB and to take victory in the women's race.

Andy Johnson was the next Harrier home in a very respectable time of 42.30. The summer 5k series he's been competing in had clearly sharpened up his legs as he crossed the finish line looking very strong indeed.

Next home was stalwart veteran runner, Roger Rowe. Still on the slow comeback trail from injury, Roger ran exceedingly well to finish in 43.33 and claim the top spot in the Vet 65 catgeory. Ever the perfectionist, Roger still professed to be dissatisfied with this performace after the race, it being a long way off the times he was clocking last year, but that is indicative of this running lark and the injury cycle: one minute you're up, the next you're down, and boy is it frustrating!

To round off the Harrier's performances, Dave Eveliegh powered on home to the finish line to clock 47.20. Utterly exhausted after the race - so exhausted he didn't even perk up when a marshall dangled his finisher's goody bag in front of his nose! - Dave had given his all and this was rewarded with this time, a personal best for him in recent years.

A good way to measure performances on an equal footing, regardless of gender or age, is to convert the times into age-graded percentages. A quick calculation of our 4 times revealed that Roger came out top!:

Roger: 79.94%
Ellie: 78.59%
Andy: 69.58%
Dave: 67.33%

Lastly, one has to spare a thought for the the poor - but who shall remain unidentified - runner who, just 2k into the race, got struck down by a very severe bout of the runner's trots... For the entire race I played cat and mouse with him as he got ahead of me, got dramatically struck down, had to dive off the path and drop all very rapidly before resuming his race and overtaking me again. This happened a total of 6 times, with him eventually finishing shortly behind me. He did the polite thing at the end of congratulating me and apologised for me having to witness all that. I said, 'Don't worry, not a problem, but I won't be shaking your hand if that's ok'! Running can be a glamorous sport at times...

Dalwood Fayre 10k
Whilst some Harriers were trying to clock PBs on a flat and fast city course, Dennis Gildea was at the other end of the spectrum, in the heart of the Devonshire countryside on a very hilly, multi-terrain course that is by no means PB friendly. The Dalwood Fayre 10k trail race takes place in the pitturesque village of Dalwood which lies in a velley between Honiton and Axminster. Not quite as brutal as the Dalwood 3 Hills Challenge which is staged in the same village in February, the 10k route is still not to be underestimated, with some brutal climbs and punishing descents.

Despite a recent "lull" in training, having been on holiday for the past few weeks and indulging in some non-sport related pleasures, Dennis ran a very strong race to finish the tough course in 12th place and a time of around 46 minutes. Dennis reported that he struggled a little bit on the climbs but the all downhill blast to the finish allowed him to use his descending skills to good effect as he picked off a few competitors on the home stretch.

Tuesday training with an Ethiopian twist!

There was a nice surprise awaiting the Harriers at this week's Tuesday night training session. When they got to the tennis club to meet for the run they found that Berihu Tesfay, the talented runner from Ethiopia who has been staying with Cathy and Pete Newman for the summer, was going to join them on a training run and maybe impart some of his secrets as to how he manages to run so darn fast!

Berihu has been staying with Cathy and Pete who met him in Wukro, Ethiopia, where they have been working as volunteers for the VSO for the past year. Cathy, a former international athlete herself, instantly recognised the love that many Ethiopians have for the sport of running and how, for many of them, being a successful runner and perhaps one day having the chance to compete for their country is their main goal and motivation to train hard. However, whilst many of these athletes are naturally talented and are prepared to work long and hard to achieve their goals, they are disadvanted in that they invariably cannot afford to buy decent running kit. Many of them run in whatever they can, sometimes just plastic sandals. They are also lacking in quality facilities, having to train on rutted and pitted dirt tracks and dusty roads. How wonderful then that Cathy and Pete came along and founded the 'Wukro-Devon Running Project'. You can read all about this project and its aims on the blog here: http://www.ironbridgerunnerevents.co.uk/wukro/

On Tuesday Berihu gave a candid and poignant speech in which he explained why budding athletes in Ethiopia sometimes need that extra bit of help from elsewhere in order for them to realise their full potential. He then went on to explain how Cathy, Pete and the Wukro-Devon Project - which has received sponsorship from Exmouth Harriers and Iron Bridge Runner - has already had an impact on athletes like Berihu and his fellow runners in Wukro. The biggest way in which an individual can help is by donating any unwanted running kit. New or nearly new kit, of any colour, shape and size, will be VERY well received and appreciated. See the project blog for details on how to go about making a donation.

After the speech it was time for Berihu to strut his stuff and put the rest of the Harriers to shame as he bounded effortlessly along, chatting away to everyone and not even breaking a sweat! Berihu talked about all the different running experiences that he's had over here in the UK this summer, which include sampling three different running tracks, taking part in some high quality races and his victory in the tough Haytor Heller off-road race, in which he also set a new course record! With performances like these, maybe we should be watching out for Berihu making a name for himself on the international circuit at some point in the future....

Berihu celebrates his victory and course record in the Dartmoor Haytor Heller race with fellow Harriers Mark Thompson and Hugh Marsden

Monday, 15 August 2011

Adam prevails at the Park run and Mark dazzles on Dartmoor!

Killerton Park 5k run

Adam Miller continues to show great form over the 5k distance. This was demonstrated on Saturday August 13th when he clocked his best ever time at the weekly Killerton Park 5km run. He was timed at 18:01 and finished in a comfortable second place.
These runs take place every Saturday throughout the year, starting at 9am in the grounds of Killerton House near Exeter. They are totally free to enter, meaning there are no prizes or momentoes on offer, but you do get an officially recorded time. They are ideal for newcomers to this running game as the 3.1 miles over pretty parkland is a nice gentle route into racing. They can also, as Adam has found, provide the perfect opportunity to complete a quality threshold run, since you always push yourself more when there are other runners around you and you know there is a stop-watch tracking your progress!
If you are wanting to run, you need to register in advance and obtain an individual runner's barcode. For more information and to register go to:

Meanwhile, on Dartmoor...

Mark Thompson has been clocking up the miles in various events on Dartmoor. In July he was the only runner in the top ten not from a Dartmoor based club when he finished 6th in the Cosdon Hill race, taking 37:50 to cover a nominal 3.2 miles. In difficult weather there was over a thousand feet of ascent but then a fast descent back to the starting point.
On 3rd August Mark was 5th in the short but steep Sourton Tor race, near Okehampton. The run of just under 3 miles only took Mark 24:43 but incorporated 800 feet of climbing and, again, the weather provided an extra challenge.
These events were something of a warm-up for the Cornwood Challenge on 6th August. Over 100 runners completed this race which Mark describes as 'a great example of a community event'. This race is multi-terrain and about 10km long. Mark again finished well up the field in 7th with a time of 42:51. Continuing a common theme, Mark just missed out on a “podium place” with his 4th in the over 40 men category. Tavistock’s Martin Holland was 1st overall in 35:45

Harriers reach the(ir) peak in the Sidmouth Festival 10k race

On Sunday 14th August, in what were ideal conditions for running, 7 Harriers ventured up the coast to Sidmouth to take part in the Sidmouth Festival 10k trail race, excellently organised by our neighbours, the Sidmouth Running Club. Arguably one of the toughest 10ks in the region, it sees runners gather on the start line at the foot of Peak Hill and run the first kilometre entirely uphill to reach the summit. The hill is so (in)famously hard that the organisers also run a seperate race-within-the-race, awarding a prize and the title 'King' or 'Queen' of the Peak to the first man and woman to reach the summit. From there the race continues on over Muttersmoor and into some woodland above the town, crossing the Sidmouth golf course before turning back sharply into the woods and finally letting gravity take over for the last kilometre as you speed back down Peak Hill to the finish line.
Due to the gradient of its climbs, this is most certainly not a PB course. Finish times tend to be 4 to 5 minutes down on what a runner could expect to achieve on a flat 10k route.

Seven Harriers joined the 142 strong field and prepared to do battle with the hill. Amongst them was Harriers' stalwart strong performer, Dave Stone. Dave has run this race for many years and has been consitently well placed, finishing 3rd in 2008, 3rd again in 2009 and 4th last year. Clearly being demoted from the top three placings last year fired him up to get back there this year as he ran a quality race, crossing the finish line in 3rd in a time of 40.25.

Next over the finish line, also finishing one place higher than he did last year, was our off-road king, Hugh Marsden. Hugh finished in an impressive 11th place, clocking a time of 43.50. Often Hugh manages to scoop the Vet 50 prize but on this occasion was just run out of it, into second place in his category, in what was a very strong field of vet runners.

Four places behind Hugh came myself, Ellie Sutcliffe. This was my first ever race last year after taking up running seriously last summer, so I was keen to see my hard work over the past year be rewarded with an improved time. Last year I ran 49.34 for 47th place and the 5th female spot and this year I was thrilled to improve that time to 45.32, knocking over 4 minutes off, and to claim 16th place overall and 2nd female.

Cantering in 2 places behind me, in a good time of 46.01, was vet 40 competitor, Jon Garrit, meaning that 4 out of the 7 competing Harriers finished in the top 20!

Next over the finish line was the ever-improving Scott Jordan. Scott's been working hard all summer, clocking up some 50+ mile training weeks, and this is clearly bringing its rewards as he finished in 52nd place, in 52.39: a decent time on this tough multi-terrain course.

Next in was Dawn Teed who was running this race for the first time and confessed to being a little daunted by the hill beforehand! Her prediction was that it would take her over an hour to complete the course but she proved herself wrong when she came blasting back down the hill to stop the clock at 58.06, in 93rd spot and 8th in the female vet 40 category.

Rounding off a septet of good performances, Jim Wyatt followed up his run in Totnes last week with another solid performance. Jim took just over the hour to cross the line in 107th place overall and 8th place in what proved to be a very strong vet 60 category.

Our male team, with the top 4 runners to count, repeated last week's Totnes performance by coming runners up (or, as Dave Stone put it, first of the losers!) to the visiting Hampshire based club, Overton Harriers.

Some pictures from the day can be viewed in an enlarged version by clicking on the images below.

Harriers about to tackle the tough Sidmouth Festival 10k trail run. Back L - R: Scott Jordan, Dave Stone, Jim Wyatt, Hugh Marsden. Front L - R: Ellie Sutcliffe, Dawn Teed

The eventual winner of the race, Adam Holland (far right, in black), and of the women's race, Lucy Commander (centre, in yellow), lead the way up Peak Hill as Dave and Ellie (left) give chase!

Dawn Teed lets the handbrake off as she powers back down Peak Hill to the finish.

Dave Stone about to summit Peak Hill

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Saturday social - 13th August, Exmouth



The boat trip has been cancelled but if you fancy drowning your sorrows on dry land instead, some of us are meeting up for a drink and some pub grub this Saturday evening.

When? Saturday 13th August, 7pm.

Where? The Grapevine pub, Exmouth (on the corner of Manchester Street, just off the Strand past the Lloyds TSB bank and opposite Exmouth Cycle Hire).

Who? Any Exmouth Harriers, partners and friends are welcome.

Hope to see lots of you there!

Hectic times for the Harriers: 4 races, 1 weekend!

The weekend of August 6th and 7th was a very busy one indeed for the Exmouth Harriers, with many members taking part in different races all over Devon and in Dorset.

Killerton Park Run 5k
On Saturday 6th August, Adam Miller again participated in the Killerton Park run in the grounds of Killerton House, near Exeter. Adam has taken part in a fair few of these events now, which are totally free to enter and attract runners of all abilities. Adam has won a couple of these park runs in the past but this week he had to settle for still creditable third place in a time of 18m19 as the in form, second claim Exmouth Harrier, Tom Mearson turned up to take an easy victory in a time 15m32.

The Great West Fell Race
Saturday 6th also saw the staging of the Iron Bridge Runner organised Great West Fell Race, on Dartmoor, near Okehampton. There was one lone Harrier towing the start line of this tough, self-nav course and that was our press man, Dave Eveleigh. Dave said he fancied trying something a little bit different and so the UK's most southerly fell race appealed. Dave joined 40 other runners at the foot of the moor and set off from Okehampton to climb up to Yes Tor, to the checkpoint. A little bit of scrabbling around on the top of the tor to find the check lost Dave a little bit of time but with visibility being good this didn't effect his race too badly as he picked his way back down over rough, granite-boulder strewn terrain, to the finish line, taking just over an hour in total.

Totnes 10k
On Sunday 7th August almost a dozen Exmouth Harriers made their way across the River Exe to Totnes for the Teignbridge Trotter organised Totnes 10k. With the "10k" element of the title being used quite loosely, this course is a shade longer than 10k and not to be underestimated. It is in fact more of a cross-country run, taking participants up and down country tracks and across fields in a hilly circular route, starting and finishing in Borough Park, Totnes. Adam Miller explained that it is important to get in the right position at the start of the race as the opening section is very narrow, making overtaking a real problem. Hugh Marsden came a little unstuck here as he likes to start off steady and wind the pace up towards the end, so he frustratingly found himself a little boxed in in the early stages. Nevertheless, he went on to finish strongly and ran himself into the top Vet 50 spot! Harriers also scooped up all the spoils in the male vet 70 category, with Ray Elston, John Perratt and Jim Wyatt showing all the young'uns how it's done! Other Harrier performances were as follows:

Men's race:
Dave Stone: 10th overall in 38.17 (3rd male vet 40)
Jamie Palmer: 17th in 40.07
Adam Miller: 19th in 40.14 (I believe there was a little game of cat and mouse going on between Adam and Jamie throughout the race!)
Hugh Marsden: 47th (1st vet 50) in 41.03
Andrew Kennedy: 105th in 49.15
Scott Jordan: 122nd in 50.09
Ray Elston: 186th in 53.26 (1st Vet 70)
John Perratt: 194th in 54.11 (2nd Vet 70)
Jim Wyatt: 263rd in 57.50
Well done to our men's team, with the first 6 runners to count, who finished 2nd to a very strong Torbay AC side.

Women's race:
Dawn Teed: 197th in 54.18
Denise Kennedy: 409th in 67.47

Some photos of Harriers in action at Totnes, courtesy of Dave Eveleigh, can be viewed below. (Click on image to view an enlarged version).

Hugh Marsden looking very
strong as he approaches the finish
line at Totnes 10k.

Dawn Teed powering on towards the finish.

Denise Kennedy proudly shows off
her finisher's medal!

Jim Wyatt pushes hard for the finish line.

The Stur Half
The last race this weekend in which a Harrier participated was the Stur Half, where I, Ellie Sutcliffe, joined over 400 other runners on the start line in Sturminster Newton, Dorset. This half marathon, organised by the Dorset Doddlers, takes runners out on an undulating route around the villages in the countryside of Blackmore Vale. A well organised event, water stations were every 2 miles and each had a theme of a different country, with marshalls dressed up and music from that country blaring out to cheer the runners along. Conditions were ideal - overcast and not too hot - but a strong headwind on some sections of the course did make the going tough in parts. I was leading the women's race until mile 9.5 when another Devon based runner, Emma Dennis from Braunton, passed me and went on to take the win in 1.26.17. I finished just over half a minute behind her in a new PB time of 1.26.50; 2nd female in 23rd place overall, out of 417 finishers. The event was sponsored by a local cake company, so I was very happy with the momentoes and prizes! :-D

Ellie Sutcliffe finishing the Stur Half in Dorset.

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Some Exe-cellent performances at the Run Exe Summer 5k series, round 2

A warm, sunny summer evening in the playing fields at Flowerpots, alongside the River Exe in Exeter, was the setting for the second round of the Iron Bridge Runner organised Run Exe Summer 5k series. On a flat course, reputed to be one of the fastest in the region, if not the country, PBs were a plenty, including the impressive PB set by second claim Exmouth Harrier, Tom Mearson. Mearson's fine performance of 14.57 was not only a PB but also a course record!

Several other Harriers also towed the start line in a field that had condiserably increased in numbers from 86 runners in round 1 to 110 this time. Amongst the Exmouth contingent was Nicola Musgrove who deserves a special mention as she was running her first ever race! Being married to race-mad Mike, it was surely only a matter of time before he had her signed up for a race! Before the start Nic said her goal was just to finish and maybe, as a bonus, not to finish last! Well, she did far better than that. She clocked a very respectable time for a first 5k of 27m23, finishing in 91st position and a clear 10 minutes ahead of the last placed runner.

Whilst the 5k makes for an ideal distance for a first time racer such as Nic, for more experienced runners it provides a top quality threshold run and a chance to get some speed into the legs. Nic's husband Mike certainly had some speed in his last night when he left some of his usual rivals trailing in his wake to finish in 17m01 and in an impressive 8th place overall.

Next Harrier home, looking to improve her time from round 1, was Ellie Sutcliffe. Short, fast runs not being her favourite, Ellie was very pleased to improve her time to 18m45, knocking 48 seconds off, and improving to 2nd placed female and 20th overall, just one place and 6 seconds behind the first placed female rival.

Having a good run to secure 41st position was Andrew Johnson in a time of 20m34 and just 15 second behind him in 43rd place was Vet 65 runner Roger Rowe. Still on the long road back to recovery from injury, Roger was slightly frustrated with this time, it being about a minute short of what he would usually expect from himself at this stage of the season; however, he had managed to knock well over a minute off his round 1 time from last month, so he has to take encouragement from that.

Another Harrier to improve upon his time from the last round was Dan Morley. He shaved almost half a minute off his previous time to finish in 21m09 and claim 47th spot. Dave Eveleigh also stepped up his game in round 2 and chipped 12 seconds off his round 1 time to run into 63rd place in 22m43. There was a fairly strong head wind along the river bank making these time improvements all the more impressive.

Last but by no means least, our Ethiopian guest for the summer, Berihu Tesfay, ran a very strong race. After experiences on the track, road and fell, Berihu came to Exeter to try and mix it with the top runners over this fast 5k course. On the night the stiff competition from the in-form Mearson, Shaun Antell and Steve Gallienne gave Berihu a fine quality race and spurred him to run into 4th spot overall in a highly commendable time of 16m36. Well done to him and all the Harriers who competed!

(Click on the following images to view an enlarged version)
Exmouth Harriers pose for a piccie at the start of the Run Exe 5k
L - R: Roger Rowe, Ellie Sutcliffe, Dan Morley, Nicola Musgrove, Berihu Tesfay, Dave Eveleigh, Mike Musgrove. (Not in photo: Andrew Johnson)

Strapped up but still running strong:
Andrew Johnson completes the first of
2 laps of the 5k course

Happy to finish ahead of some of
his main rivals, or just happy to
finish, Mike Musgrove?!