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