Fell Racing in Devon?
Not a County normally associated with the fells of England and I guess that those from the north will be snorting with derision about soft southerners and easy off road running. That will be those from the north who have not actually competed in the Grizzly, or the latest challenge on the south coast, the Exe To Axe which took place on Sunday, 1st April, 2012. Organised by Sidmouth RC and to Fell Runners Association rules, this was a Category B fell race in name and in nature.
The mileage is a little unclear with the organisers claiming 20.3 miles, and those with GPS watches who actually ran it, claiming something in excess of 21 miles. The start is at Foxholes car park in Exmouth and at the start of the coastal path. You then follow your nose and the path until you reach Seaton some 21 miles later, after passing over West Down, through Budleigh Salterton, Ladram Bay, over Peak Hill, Sidmouth, over the hill above Sidmouth, over Salcombe, over Weston, over Beer Head (note the reference to ‘over’), down through Beer and up and ‘over’ a small but significant hill over into Seaton.
So that was the challenge, and so how did Exmouth Harriers measure up to that. Well, pretty good, is the answer, with the club taking a clean sweep of all the prizes on offer. First runner home was Tom Merson of the Harriers in an exceptionally quick time for this course of 2:26.47 And the first lady home was Caroline Pleasance in 15th place overall, in 3:13.11. Tom was a full 16 minutes clear of the second placed runner and Caroline a staggering 20 minutes clear of the second female - fantastic running for our two Harriers.
The event can be tackled as a relay race, with teams of 2 – 4 members, and the first relay team back, was the imaginatively named 'Ben and Chris'. Comprised of Exmouth Harrier's Ben White and Chris Dupain, this pairing ensured that the Harrier's rein of victory remained unbroken as they crossed the line first in 3.07.20. They were shortly followed by more members of the Dupain family, with Dad Nigel and daughters Emma and Hannah - recently coming back into running after giving birth this winter - taking second spot in 3.32.25.
Other Harriers enjoying the challenge, and the marvellous weather, were: Scott ‘2 Trigs’ Jordan, who started talking to Emma Dupain at the start line and suddenly found himself in Seaton on an unplanned run in around about 3 and a half hour's time, Terry ‘Dark Destroyer’ Oldham, 3.46, Bob Keast 4.01.14 and Katie Comer 4.05.
Lorraine Gilson and John Goss-Custard took part in the relay team and completed legs 2 and 3.
A few memorable moments of the day include Lorraine straying off course at Weston Bay (sshhh, she doesn't want anyone to know!) and Katie giving some Devonshire pensioner a reason to smile when he strolled around the corner - with his wife - just as our Katie was in the process of removing some upper layers... made his day, that treat!
After a well earned ice-cream at Seaton, the Harriers headed back to Exmouth, though via petrol power this time! Well done gang!
Caroline on her way to an easy victory in the women's race.