Actually the race is called the 'TrickEy Warren Trek', so named after the farm located at its starting point in Somerset, but the 'tricky' element still applies!
To see Mark Thompson run on Woodbury Common, he bounds along so effortlessly, in fact, like a feather-footed fairy!, that you'd think he'd been into this running lark all his life, but not so! In fact Mark only took up running five years ago as a means of overhauling a less-than-healthy lifestyle. Who'd have thought that he'd turn out to be quite a natural at it? Probably not Mark himself after his first tentative club run 5 years ago...
Mark Thompson writes:
'It is now 5 years since I first ran with Exmouth Harriers on a Thursday evening in an attempt to change my unhealthy lifestyle. That night there were only two other runners, Ray Elston and Bob Woodall. The run that night took us into Lympstone and up through Red Barn Lane. It appeared I was 'eating their dust' as both Ray and Bob constantly had to stop and wait for me to catch up. It was only a couple of years later I realised Ray was approaching his 70th birthday and Bob his 60th. I was determined to improve.
Improvement came slowly but the harriers were very encouraging, most notably Ray Elston and Richard Selby. This year I have been placed in the top ten in 6+ races but never quite making the top 3. On Sunday I ran the Trickey Warren Trek (a very tough and hilly 10k off-road event in the Blackdown Hills, near Taunton). The weather was challenging, with heavy rain showers making the course difficult to negotiate. There were many steep climbs and fast descents. On starting the race I tripped within 50m and grazed my hands and knees badly; I got up and continued to run. Unlike other races the leaders didn't pull away and for the majority of the run I was in the leading pack of three. This was unchartered waters for me and I am sure I didn't handle it particularly well! I came 3rd and the results will be on Teignbridge Trotters website shortly.
In every race for every winner there are many many more will never even get close to knowing what that might feel like. I'm pleased that with the help of the Harriers, I’ve got this close, if I can do it anyone can!'
Mark's time was 49.31, just 18 seconds behind the winner, David Hawes. That a 10k race should be won in a time of over 49 minutes gives you some idea of how darn tough this course is!
Well done to Mark, a much deserved and long overdue top 3 placing. Surely it's now only a matter of time and perseverance before he tastes victory?!
Mark's wife has now joined the Harriers too and has graduated from the beginner's running course with ease and is building up towards running the Bicton Blister Lite event in November. We wish her luck with her training and hope that her surge into running is as successful as Mark's!