Exe-rated runners!

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

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Dartmoor Discovery Preview

At the suggestion of Dave E., I'm going to just write a little preview of one of the biggest races of the year on the calendars of 3 hardy Harriers. The race in question is the 32.3 mile (that .3 matters, believe me!) Dartmoor Discovery Ultra marathon and the 3 Harriers in question are Dave Stone, Dave Wright and myself, Ellie Sutcliffe.
And so on, and so on, for 32.3 brutal miles! The 2011 D.D.

Dave Stone is a bit of a dab hand at this old Dartmoor ultra lark, having ran it 8 times in total and having won in it twice, in 2004 and 2010. Last year he was leading the race for the first 29 miles and another victory looked to be winging its way in his direction, but a back injury that he sustained at work really started to make its unwelcome presence felt in the latter stages of the race and Dave was overtaken with just 2-3 miles left to run by the eventual winner, Dave Tomlin, of the Teignbridge Trotters; though Tomlin's winning time was slower than the times set by our Dave in his two previous D.D. victories. So, you can bet your life that Dave will be all the more fired up to reclaim his throne in 2012. But who's his main competition?

Well, there'll be Dave Tomlin again; Dave has just set a new marathon PB of 2h39 at the Taunton marathon in April this year and he has been focussing on this race and tailoring his training schedule towards it since January. Last year's 3rd placed athlete, Roman Pavlu from the Czech Republic, is also back this year. Now that he is familiar with the course, he will be a hot contender for the title. Adam Holland - the youngest ever runner to complete 100 marathons, all done before age 21 - is also back; however, he only decided to run a few weeks ago and got a place via the waiting list, so his training programme may not have been as focussed as the other three contenders. And of course, this being such an unpredictable race, with unpredictable weather, other unknown pretenders to the throne could find their form on the day and throw themselves into the mix to stir up the competition. Should be an exciting men's race on the day!

For Dave Wright, this is, to the best of my knowledge, his first ultra (correct me if I'm wrong Dave!). Since joining the Harriers his fitness has developed, but so too has his confidence, and he now feels ready to take on the next challenge, beyond your standard 26.2m! However, he's also been doing rather well over the marathon distance of late too, having just obliterated his marathon PB on the North Dorset Villages course in May, to run 3:15:55. The D.D. enforces strict race cut offs at various points along the course and the marathon point is a generous 5h15m. Not only must this give Dave huge confidence that he'll easily be able to complete his first D.D., but it also sets him up for a highly placed finish... if all goes to plan on race day that is! Whatever happens, just committing to a race of this magnetude and doing the training for it is an achievement that needs acknowledging in itself: so Dave, we salute you!

As for me, well, I only started running in summer 2010, completed my first ever marathon in September 2010 and signed up for the 2011 D.D. on a crazed bout of post-marathon euphoria immediately after (easy to do these things when the event is 9 months away!). I ran the North Dorset Villages marathon in May 2011 as a training run, ended up going out too hard and it wrecked my legs for 3 weeks after, putting me back down to only 30 mile training weeks in my final build-up to the race. In short, my preparation for my first ever ultra, and only my 3rd time going to marathon distance, was truly abysmal! Fortunately what I lacked in physical preparation and fitness I made up for with mental tenacity, a competitive spirit and sheer bloody-mindedness! From mile 17 to mile 28 I even found myself leading the ladies' race last year, but at mile 28, on the climb out of Postbridge, the lack of miles in my legs and adequate preparation came to bite me on the back. I was overtaken by the very talented FV45 athlete, Diane Roy of East Cornwall Harriers, as she left me for dead on the hill, in the heat, and ran on to take the win. So, like Dave, I am also fired up for victory this year, but what are my odds?

If I were to bet on myself, I'd say I was 'evens', at best! Last year's winner, Di Roy, has sadly been ruled out of the running having just sustained a foot injury. Had she been competing this year though, I don't think she'd have been my main rival; that acolade goes to Isobel Wykes from Truro AC. Having won the Duchy Marathon in March and then a week later coming out again, stronger than ever, to win the Grizzly by a huge margin, this is one talented lady. She's got years of experience on me and has previously competed in 100ks. I have only faced her in a race once, and that was the Plymouth Hoe 10 mile this February where she finished 14 seconds ahead of me. Incidentally, my marathon PB is 14 seconds faster than hers. This could make for an interesting battle on the day! Also, just to mention, I will actually be running for my second claim club, Teignbridge Trotters, for this race. As there are no other female Harriers competing and the Trotters have enough females to make up 2 teams, I will be donning a different royal blue vest... please don't hate me!

Dave Stone and Ellie Sutcliffe, all smiles before the start of the 2011 D.D.

Whatever happens on race day, the great thing about the D.D. is the friendliness and cameraderie of all the runners. The support on route is tremendous and, although you are going through a very personal battle, you feel that you are linked to your fellow competitiors by this shared experience. There are moments on a race of this distance when you question what the hell you are doing and vow that you will never let yourself sign up to something so horrendous again (10ks, now they are a nice distance, aren't they?!), but then you cross that finish line and the buzz and sense of achievement you get is like no other... and then, in a moment of gin-fueled weakness, at the after-race party you sign up to run again next year!!

For more information on the race, click the following link:

There is a link on this website to the D.D. magazine, which gives you a map of the course. If any Harriers are free on Saturday 9th June and fancy a relaxing day on Dartmoor, I'm sure us 3 runners would appreciate some support on route! But please, if you do come to support, we just kindly ask that you don't waft your chilled glass of lager in our faces - we don't need any encouragement to throw in the towel and drift off course into a beer garden!!

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

What the Dupains did next...

On Saturday 26th May the Dupain-clan headed up the coast to Sidmouth to take part in the Sidmouth R.C. organised 'Little Long Run'. The twee oxymoronic name in fact beguiles the difficulty of the challenge that the race presents to participants. It may only be 3.8 miles long but it is a category B fell race involving some very steep sections of ascent. Further, the route represents something of an obstacle course with lots of things to jump (logs), avoid (nettles) and cross (rivers).

It was the first staging of the race and with just 44 finishers it was, in the true manner of fell running, a low-key but friendly affair. The Dupains were out in force and all of them had strong races, imposing themselves upon the overall results by all finishing in the top 50% of the field.

Chris was the the first Dupain and the first Harrier home in 11th place overall in a time of 40.44; this was after overtaking Ben White (an honorary Dupain, in the capacity of Emma's boyfriend!) when Ben went the wrong way! Ben finished in 44.14 which gave him a creditable 13th place. If he brushes up on his navigation, that could be a top ten placing next time! ;-)

Hannah Bown, née Dupain, came in as 2nd lady, finishing just one place and less than 2 minutes behind the first lady in 44.15. This have her 15th place overall; quite an achievement considering that being so petite the river was a lot higher on her than on most of the other competitors!!

Nigel 'Pops' Dupain had a good run finishing in 47.10 for 18th place. Emma rounded up the team in 21st place and 4th lady with a time of 49.10. She was pleased just to be back running and to finish comfortably in this, her first race since her accident that led to a few cracked ribs. Good to see you on the mend in time for the summer season, Emma!

The race was won by Chris Gill of Tiverton Harriers in a nimble 32:31.

All involved enjoyed the atmosphere of the event and the course, which was tough but interesting. Hopefully the event will grow and grow and gain further Harriers' support next year!

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Would you like to win an Olympic medal?

For those of you who are up on your history you may know that the Wenlock Olympian Games, staged in the charming village of Much Wenlock in Shropshire, actually pre-date the Olympic Games and formed one of the inspirations for the modern revival of the Olympics (you may have noticed the Olympic Mascot is called "Wenlock"). Part of these games is a 7 mile road race held on Sunday 15th July. There are age group medals up for grabs, down to 3rd place in each age category, so a really great chance for some people at the club to be awarded with an Olympian medal dated 2012!

Dave Eveleigh is very much up for participating but as it's a long way he'd quite like some company on the journey and to share the experience with some fellow Harriers. As the race doesn't start until 12.30pm, it's possible to do it all in one day and drive up on race morning and back in the evening, possibly stopping off at a nice country pub on route for an evening meal??? The entry fee for the race is only £4, so it's a real bargain.

Hugh Marsden is also interested but if we could get a good number to enter it would save on fuel costs and make for a great club day out. If you think you might be avilable and interested, please get in touch with Dave Eveleigh.

For more information on the Wenlock Olympian Games, click the following link:

Fantastic business / advertising opportunity!

Do you have a business?

Do you have a family member or friend who has a business?

Would you (or them) like to take advantage of a very cheap but effective advertising opportunity?

Read on...

Exmouth Harriers are producing a year book that will be distributed to all members at the end of year dinner and dance and awards ceremony. In addition to information about the club, its members - past and present - and their achievments, some pages will be kept free for people wishing to place business adverts. By keeping the production costs of the book low, it means that we are able to offer advertising slots at a VERY reasonable price. We estimate that a full A5 page colour advert would cost you £10 and a full page black/white advert being a snip at £5. In addition to this we would ask for an additional £5 donation to help with the printing and production costs of the book.

As we will not be charging members for the book, advertising revenue is our only way of funding the project, so please, if you have or know someone who has a business, enourage them to take advantage of this great opportunity that will also be helping the Harriers!

At the moment we are not looking to take money but just a pledge to purchase an advertising slot. If you are interested and would like to take up the offer, please see Dave Eveleigh.


Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Pearson in the prizes at Ottery and some new Harriers impress too!

On Sunday 20th May the Karen Hall's Ottery 10k took place. Established in the memory of the Ottery based estate agent, Karen Hall, this run has grown in popularity over the years and become a favourite on the running calendars of many of the local clubs. Starting and finishing at Ottery cricket ground, it takes runners on a scenic undulating route around the Otter valley on quiet country lanes.

Harriers have always supported the event and this year was no exception, with 10 of them taking up the challenge. Among the stalwart racing enthusiasts, there were also some new Harriers faces on the start line and all of them performed extremely well, which is hugely encouraging to us as a club with the Woodland relays and the Erme Valley relays fast approaching....! Here's how they all got on:

Harriers' prodigious young talent, Jamie Pearson, led them home in 3rd place overall in a superb new PB time of 35:35. A fast time on this course and, when you consider that Jamie is still only 20 years old, he's a very encouraging prospect for the the future.

Adam Miller also had a good run. He also clocked a new PB of 36:39, and this coming just one day after his new Killerton Parkruk 5k win and PB! This placed him 5th overall in the race. Looks like Adam has bouced back after the London Marathon and is getting some speed back into those legs.

Next in, running his first race for the Harriers, was newcomer Marc Cox. This was not only his first race as a Harrier, but probably his first since leaving school! So to place 8th overall in a swift time of 38:12 makes for a very exciting debut. What more will be see from Marc as the season progresses? With Jamie, Adam and Marc all being seniors, our senior men's relay team suddenly looks very strong indeed!

Next up, continuing the game of 'how many different and incorrect ways can his name be spelt in race entries / results' was John Garrety... sorry, Jon Garrity. The performance has not been attributed to him on the Power of Ten rankings yet, presumably as the adminstrators are so confused by how many different identities he seems to possess! Identity crisis aside, Jon also set a massive new PB of 38:41. He placed 10th overall and 1st MV40. Again, with Jamie Palmer, Dave S and Mike, what a cracking MV40 relay team we have shaping up!!

Next over the line was Chris Dupain. Chris was a minute outside his 10k PB, set on the First Chance course in January, but the Ottery route is a much slower course, so a 40:41 clocking to give him 16th place was a good performance from someone who is always a strong representative of the omnipresent Dupain contingent!

Next in came the first of our ladies, also a relative newcomer to the club, having been running with the Harriers for about 5 months now. This was, however, her first race for the club and Moira Glen did us proud. She covered the 6.2m distance in a swift 42:25 for 28th place overall, 4th female overall and easily top FV45. Having moved down to Budleigh from London, where she worked as a police officer in the Met, Moira is a tough cookie. Next year - rumour has it! - she'll move up an age category, so she'll be a "force" (excuse the pun!) to be reckoned with on the South West race circuit if this performance is anything to go by!

Hannah Bown, continuing her strong come back after the birth of her baby son in winter, clocked a very solid 44:26 for 46th spot overall and 7th female. Again, this is a good indication that she is well on track to getting her fitness and form back in time for the summer season.

Lee Russell had a very fine run, stopping the clock at 47:49 for 75th place but a very respectable 14th place in the ever-competitive MV55 category.

Mick Allen came next, giving it his all right to line to record a time of 52:36 that was good enough for 121st spot overall and a very impressive 2nd place in the MV 70 category.

Rounding off a collection of PBs, good come back runs and excellent individual performances for the Harriers was Claire Baxter. Claire covered the course in a tidy 53:09 for 125th place, 32nd female and 8th FV50.

A fine looking bunch of Harriers (and a budding Harrier in the making!) after the race.

Jamie with his prize for placing 3rd overall

Monday, 21 May 2012

Killer Crewkerne!

Sneeking a cheeky few hours off work on Sunday 20th May, I, Ellie Sutcliffe, drove the 15 miles down the A30 from my term-time Sherborne base to the small market town of Crewkerne to take part in the inaugural Crewkerne 10k.

With all the recent marathon and Dartmoor Discovery training, my speed has definitely suffered and I haven't raced over 10k distance since First Chance in January, so I figured it would be good to give the legs a good blast over a 6.2 mile course.

I knew there was a killer-hill to tackle at the start of the race as the race organisers - Crewkerne Running Club - had advertised a Sidmouth Festival 10k style 'King/Queen of the Hill' contest. This hill was only 500m long (half that of the Sid-Fest monster!) but it was brutally steep. I decided to go for it though and I duly reached the top as first woman and was crowned Queen of the Hill and awarded a bottle of Pinotage for my efforts! The only problem was that this initial burst left me absolutely gasping for breath and wheezing away with my sports asthma and this only 1/20th of the distance into the race! The other problem was that the rest of the course wasn't flat either!

The route took us on quiet country lanes through the villages of Merriott and Hinton St. George before returning to Crewkerne. With only 1 mile to go my watch was reading 33 minutes and I had hope that I could dip in under the 40 minute mark. But then, of course, that killer hill had to be tackled again in reverse and it totally finished me off. I puffed and gasped and wheezed my way up it, then let the hand brake off as I careered down the otherside to the finish line outside the town hall. I stopped the clock at 40:17: annoying to be outside the 40 mark but the course had almost 500ft of height gain and I was only 7 seconds slower than my First Chance 10k time on that pancake flat course in January, so not bad I guess.

I finished 1st female, by 3 clear minutes, and 11th overall out of 183 finishers. The race was won by the very talented athlete Adrian Marriott of Wells City Harriers, 2 clear minutes ahead of the rest of the field, in 33:07.

This race replaces the popular Crewkerne 9 mile. Not sure if it will be as popular as there are just so many 10ks out there now, but the route was nice, it was well organised and I think it will attract more runners next year. In the meantime, I seem to have garnered myself another course record, it being the first year, so I'll take that!

Crossing the finish line of the inaugural Crewkerne 10k. Knackered, but satisfied!

Weekly Parkrun round up

Exmouth Harriers had another successful outing at the Killerton Parkrun on Saturday May 19th. Adam Miller, who's now competed in over 40 Parkruns, secured another victory and also a new PB on the course this Saturday with a 17:44 clocking. He was well over half a minute clear of the second placed finisher.

Mark Thompson, back on his preferred off-road terrain, also had a very strong run to finish 6th overall and 1st MV45 in 20:21.

Roger Rowe - now a total Parkrun addict! - had another good run too. Not a PB for the course but not too far off, with 21:29 that gave him 11th place overall and easily top MV65.

The final Harrier taking up the Parkrun challenge was Andy Kennedy. This was Andy's first Parkrun and he ran a highly respectable 22:22 for 17th place overall and 1st MV50. This meant that Harriers placed 1st overall and 1st in all the 4 different age categories they were representing.

It has been suggested by Chair that we pick a date to target the Parkrun en masse and show them that the Harriers are a force to be reckoned with. If you are up for this challenge, please register your interest on the Harriers Facebook group, the Yahoo email group or with Chairman Bob.

Remember - these are timed runs and are totally free of charge!

This week the Killerton cows decided to take up the Parkrun challenge: here they are at the entries desk, queuing up to register!

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Dave E. and Jamie "on track" to success at the Devon county champs!

With the lure of off-road events being too irresistible for most Harriers, there were just 2 Harrier representatives at the Devon County track championships, held on the weekend of 12th - 13th May.

Dave Eveleigh opted to run in just the one race: the 3000m. Coming back into some real form and starting to mix it with the other men in his age category, Dave finished in 10th place overall in a mixed-age race but crucially he placed 2nd MV55, just one place behind the other runner in that catgeory, in 11:39:97. The winter 3k series at the Exeter Arena that Dave attended religiously has obviously sharpened his legs over the distance no end!

Jamie Palmer, meanwhile, opted for 2 events: the 800m and the 1500m. In both events there were enough vet runners to stage seperate senior and vet races. In the MV40 1500m race Jamie finished 2nd overall and also 2nd MV40 in a strong time of 4:24:62. In the 800m he again placed second in a sizzling time of 2:11:49, but this time he clinched the top spot in the MV40 category. A very successful weekend's running for Jamie and really encouraging for the rest of the track season.

It's a Roller Coaster ride for Chairman Bob!

On Saturday 12th May Exmouth Harriers' trusty chairman, Bob Keast, travelled to Wales to take part in the Rhondda Roller Coaster 26.5 miler. With the option of either running or walking the race, there were two different start times, with Bob and the running contingent setting out at a more sedate 9am. Nothing else about this event was sedate though, with the route involving 5500ft of total vertical climb as it twisted and turned, peaked and troughed - as its metaphorical title suggests - around (altogether, with your finest Southern Welsh accents please) 'The Valleys'!

If all this height is to be gained, it stands to reason that participants will want to be rewarded for their efforts, and on this run they were by no means disappointed with the reward coming in the form of some sensational views (see Bob's photos below for just a few examples). But whilst the views might have been breathtaking, running up those mighty hills to see them also took quite a bit of breath and made for a gruelling 26.5 miles.

As Bob started out he knew he was to be in for a long day on the feet. Recent wet spells had made the ground quite muddy in places but the sun came out on the day, even getting to be quite hot at some stages. Luckily there were 3 control points all offering refreshment to the weary runners, with the last check point sneekily being at a pub! Copious amounts of cake were thrown into the bargain, and, speaking of bargain, with an entry fee of just £6.20, this event offered truly great value for money.

So, how did Chair fair? Well, he completed the challenging and hilly course in a rather respectable 6 hours 41 mins. Upon crossing the finish line he was entreated to some very welcome home-made soup and yet more cake offerings! In short - a cracking day out in a beautiful part of Wales. Will Bob be back there next year? His answer:  "you bet I will"! Satisfied customer then!!

Some of the stunning scenery that Bob ran through on his 26.5 mile jaunt in the Welsh Valleys
(No photos offered of Bob actually running, so we'll just have to rely on the fact that, as Chairman, we can trust his word to the hilt and believe him when he says he was there!!)

Monday, 14 May 2012

Farewell, Caroline!

It is with great sadness that we must bid a fond farewell to valued Harrier member Caroline Pleasence.

Caroline has been with the club for well over a year now, having joined when she moved into the area with her job as a nurse and took up a post at Lympstone Commando base.

Over the past year Caroline has made her mark on the south-west running scene, showing a particular strength and talent for longer distance, off-road running. She has also made a valued impact within the club by being a real team player and stepping in to help out at every relay event that the club entered last year. Thanks to her enthusiasm for these events she helped the female Harriers team to 2nd place at the Erme Valley Relays, 1st place at the East Devon Way relay (despite being drafted in at last minute, not being familiar with the route and taking a few wrong turns along the way!!) and 2nd place at the Parrett Trail Relays.

She can also hold her own when it comes to individual performances and has established a name for herself amongst the competitive running club females in the region who must know that they are in for a tough run when they see her on the start line. In the past year alone Caroline has taken 4th place at the Dartmoor Vale half-marathon and the 15 mile off-road Exmoor Stagger races (both in October 2011). She crossed the line in 3rd place at the Sidmouth Beat the Bus race (June 2011), the 10 mile Stickler (October 2011), our own Bicton Blister race (November 2011) and the Otterton Reindeer Run (December 2011). She took 2nd place at the Grizzly Cub event (March 2012) but, most importantly, she ran herself to an impressive 1st place in both the local Woodbury 10k race (September 2011) and the gruelling 20 mile Exe to Axe fell race (April 2012). Quite an impressive tally.

We will certainly miss Caroline's team spirit, competitive edge, cheerful bubbly personality and those signature pink ribbons in her twin pony-tails at races! We wish her well in her new post and with her move to Surrey. We hope that she manages to find a running club as friendly as the Harriers, and we are sure that any running club will snap her up immediately!

All the best Caroline, and stay in touch!!

Caroline doing the Harriers' vest proud en route to finishing 1st lady in the 2012 Exe to Axe race

7 Harriers dice with death!

A ragged band they called the Harriers Off-Road contingent went to Combe Sydenham on Exmoor on 13th May and had a 'near Death' experience. That experience is the 'Black Death Run' organised by Taunton Hash House Harriers which comprises both 10.5 and 3 mile routes through the woodland surrounding the ancient manor house and mill buildings nestled in the valley. Water does indeed run through it and so did a few hundred runners in the two events.

Most races are challenging for all sorts of different reasons, and the challenge in this one is not to simply survive (I will explain the morbid references shortly) but to manage the hills and relentless combinations of steep ascents and steep descents which makes up most of the 10.5 mile route. There are a few similar trail races on the South West circuit but this one is billed as the 'hardest in the South West', and they are probably right. Even Mark 'Radiohead' Thompson has deigned to describe this race as hard so that should give you a clue as to its standard!

So why so morbid? Well, the route goes through what was a small but populated hamlet called Goodley until the arrival of the Black Death in about 1347. It would appear the inhabitants sealed themselves off from the ravages of the plague but one feckless villager sallied out to Watchet to buy provisions and brought the plague back with him, and all the inhabitants died as a result. With the respect associated with Hash House Harriers, they have taken this tale of woe and shaped the race around it with plenty of references to the Grim Reaper (marshalls and race director) and with skulls for the prizes. Unfortunately there were no prizes for the Exmouth Harriers today but some strong performances nevertheless.

Hugh Marsden, in his first competitive outing since returning to the UK from his winter base in South Georgia, was first home in 1:24:45 and took a very commendable 12th place, beating a lot of athletes his junior into the bargain. He was followed by Scott '2 Trigs' Jordan, 37th place in 1:32:38. Then came a burst of Harriers with Nicolas Brown in 56th spot in 1:36:23 and a few seconds and one position later Terry 'The Dark Destroyer' Oldham in 1:36:52.

Cantering in all on her lonesome was Katie Comer in 1:48:03, taking 120th spot. Her time was just slightly down on last year but, as Katie admits, she has not been doing the mileage she was at this point last year and so she was in fact very pleased with her performance. A short gap followed and then our final flurry of Harriers descended upon the finish line, with Dawn Teed placing 150th in 1:53:12 and Lorraine 'Back with a Bang' Gilson being awarded the same time in 151st.

There were 261 brave souls who confronted and defeated the Black Death and were rewarded with a technical tee-shirt that reflected the overall theme of the run. Look out for a bunch of black-shirts with skulls on pounding the promenande of Exmouth!

Apparently this sign was not mere hyperbole but in fact grossly accurate!

2 Trigs and Hugh battle it out to be top Harrier!

The Dark Destroyer stealthily stalks his Hogweed pray!

Katie, blatantly looking too relaxed and glamourous and thus not working hard enough!

Happy Harriers icing off their weary limbs in the stream.

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Roger Rowe gets blown around Yeovilton 5k!

Yeovil Town Road Running club organise a monthly 5k series at RNAS Yeovilton, every 2nd Wednesday in the month from April through September. Although it is a bit of a trek from Exmouth, Roger Rowe considered the drive worth it as this course is billed as being the fastest 5k course in the country, due to the fact that it's almost pancake flat. However, what you cannot control by driving 50 miles up the A303 is the weather, and blustery winds and some rain definitely made for slower times than at the April outing.

Roger's time was slightly down on what he ran last month. Last night, with a negative split, he crossed the line in 21:03. This gave him 53rd place overall and a very comfortable 1st place MV60. This time also slots him into 13th spot overall in the 2012 UK rankings for the MV60 category at this 5k distance.

There were 121 finishers and the race was won by unattached promising junior athlete, Miles Burton, in 15:54.

The next round will take place on Wednesday 13th June, 7.15pm kick off from Yeovilton.

Monday, 7 May 2012

Ellie and Dave W. do Dorset in style!

Whilst the obvious choice of race this weekend was the Great West Run, Dave Wright and myself, Ellie Sutcliffe, had other motivations. We are both, along with Dave Stone, running the Dartmoor Discovery 32.3 mile Ultra marathon in June and so we needed to get in a long training run in beforehand. The North Dorset Villages Marathon seemed like a good place to do that and for myself came with the added bonus of being just 10 miles down the road from my term-time residence in Sherborne.

Dave would have had a much earlier start, however, as the race sets off at 8.30am! Conditions though were ideal for marathon running; a little chilly to start but warming up along route, never getting too hot or too windy.

I felt like I had unfinished business with this course as I ran it last year as my second ever marathon. I set off far too ambitiously, blew up about two thirds in, and ended up losing the lead at the agonising 25.5 mile point! (I later found out that the woman I lost it to had been paced by her husband on his bike and he was feeding her the gap to me, only adding to my annoyance!) I did not need to prove anything time wise after achieving my sub-3h target at Taunton and I did not want to damage myself too much before Dartmoor, so I set out to run an even paced, confidence building run, and hopefully pull off a cheeky win. This was the most comfortable marathon I have run and all my mile splits were fairly even. I didn't crash at my nemisis mile (19!) and felt comfortable and in a rhythm. I crossed the line in 3:02:54, which gave me 12th place over all and 1st female, by almost 30 minutes! It was also the Dorset County Championships race and so as I live here and will not be participating in the Devon champs at Dartmoor Vale, I decided to enter, so that was a nice little bonus to be crowned as Dorset champion.

Dave Wright also had a stormer of a run and totally smashed his PB by over 10 minutes! His previous best was a 3:26 clocking at the Dartmore Vale race last Autumn. The North Dorset is by no means a fast course: it's constantly undulating and it also measures in at slightly longer than 26.2m. So a new PB of 3:15:55, 34th place and 5th MV50 has to give Dave masses of confidence that he is coming into his best form with the DD just 5 weeks ahead. There were 343 finishers, meaning that Dave finished just inside the top 10%.

The race was won by Steve Cannon of Lytchett Manor Striders in 2:42:00 dead. A good time on this course.

This is a super friendly and superbly well organised marathon by the Gillingham Trotters and as long as you can tolerate the early start, it's well worth a try... if only for the beautiful scenery and pretty villages that you get to see on route!

Being started on the North Dorset Village Marathon in Sturminster Newton by the town crier!

Dave Wright pushing on towards a massive new PB of 3:15:55.

What a Great (West) Run for Roger Riggs!

Great West Half-marathon

On what were close to ideal running conditions - light breeze, not too cold, not too hot, slightly overcast - 9 Harriers dusted off their trainers and participated in the Great West Run (GWR) in Exeter. The biggest (in terms of participant numbers) event in the area, the GWR half-marathon attracts a good mix of top level athletes, club runners and first time charity runners, making for a hugely varied field in terms of both finishing times and also running costume!

Of the 9 Harriers that took part, each had their own personal motivation for doing the race. The biggest mention has to go to Roger Riggs. This was Roger's first ever race last year and he was happy to complete it but also left wondering what sort of time he could do with a proper training regime. So he joined the Harriers! Since joining Roger has made HUGE progress and this is all down to the dedication and enthusiasm he has put into his running. He rarely misses a training session and always turns up with a beaming smile on his face and certainly looks to be enjoying every minute of it! A lovely, friendly guy, he has been a very welcome addition to the club and I can say that there is not one Harrier who has met Roger who wouldn't have been thrilled for him yesterday when he had an absolute stormer of a run, completing the course a whopping 22 minutes quicker than last year to stop the clock at 1:57:49. This gave him 854th place over all and 27th MV55. Very well done! We only hope that Roger will continue to set himself new targets so that we still get to welcome his cheery smiling face at training nights in the future!

Mike Musgrove had every reason to be pleased with himself as well. Running on still tired legs after his sub-3h marathon performance at London 2 weeks previously, he did not have the highest of expectations of himself prior to the race. As anyone who knows Mike will tell you, however, whether he's feeling 100% or not, he always gives 100%. He crossed the line in a time of 1:24:34 - down on his PB but this is by no means a fast course, containing several nasty hills. More impressive is to say that he came 20th over all and 2nd MV40, bagging himself a tidy Ironbridge Runner prize in the process. Although, Mike said that what made him even happier was seeing Roger's grinning face as he crossed the finishline. Aww... Harriers love!!

Jon Garrity (or Jon Gamily, as he appears in the results... people always seem to struggle with his name, he has previously appeared in the guises of 'John', 'Jon Garit', and now this!), was taking it easy and having a steady run after a recent calf-strain issue. He was foreced to pull out of the Bideford Half and register a DNF due to this injury so he sensibly took it easy on this occasion but still recorded a very respectable time of 1:34:01 for 109th place and 17th MV40.

Another special mention, on what turned out to be a great day for individual Harrier performances, needs to go to Diane Richards. Diane registered a PB, knocking 2 minutes off her time set in Barcelona back in March, and she did so on a much hillier and tougher course. She came in at 1:52:20 chip time to take 640th spot over all and 79th female. (Category position not known as for some reason the results have Diane down as a male vet....) Well done Diane, and keep chipping away at that time!

Next over the line was Clare Medlock, having a solid race to finish just outside the 2h mark with a 2:03:08 posting. This also placed her just outside the top 1000 runners with 1016th place over all and gave her 203rd female and 21st FV45.

Claire Baxter was having a steady jaunt around, helping to pace her friend Nikki who was running her first ever half marathon. Claire, and Nikki, were very pleased to finish ahead of a giant gorilla(!) in a time of 2:17:19. Claire was 1363rd over all, 368th female and 15th FV50.

Trevor Cope just loves the half marathon distance and will travel fair distances to compete, so of course he did not pass up the opportunity to run a race on his doorstep and clocked a consistent 2:33:52 for 1562nd place and 38th MV55.

Mark Thompson also competed but under someone else's name, so for the moment his result is not known; however, Mike reckons he finished in around about the 1:25 mark.

Roger Rowe took up official pace-making duties and paced 100 or so runners to a comfortable 2h clocking at an even 9m/m pace.

The race was won by the very in form Bristol and West athlete, Shaun Antell. Antell beat our own second claim speedster, Tom Merson, by almost a minute. Tom is of course still on the comeback trail after injury and so a time of 1:11:28 will have no doubt boosted his confidence ahead of the summer track season.

First woman was Vicky Pincombe, also winner of the Taunton half, with a convincing win margin in 1:22:11, 12th place over all.

There were 1669 finishers.

Claire Baxter and her friend Nikki after the race

Great West 5k

Meanwhile in the shorter, yet still challenging, Great West 5k race, there were two Harrier representatives. Andrew Johnson won the male over-45 category, placing a highly creditable11th overall in 20.22. Dave Eveleigh, really coming back into form this season, ran in as second male over-55 in 21.17, to place 16th overall. Considering 114 people finished the race, our 2 Harriers did the club proud!

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Harriers attend Killerton Parkrun's 1st birthday

Also on Saturday 28th April - whilst most Harriers were up at Haldon forest running in the Heartbeat trail race - a smattering of Harriers were at Killerton House, near Exeter, to celebrate Killerton Park Run's 1st birthday with a birthday run. As this week marked the 1st anniversary of the event in the grounds, birthday cakes were laid on for runners to enjoy after.

Times were down on previous weeks slightly due to the heavy rain fall and muddier conditions underfoot. This did not stop Adam Miller from turning out yet another consistent performance with a top 3 placing, stopping the watch bang on 19:00.

Jon Garrity was just one place behind Adam in 4th, in a time of 19.46. John is improving all the time and this summer looks set to be a good one on the PB front.

Les Turner recorded 28:33 for 46th place and he took 3rd place in a tough MV65 category.

There were 71 finishers and presumably they all retreated to sample the cake offerings after their wet and muddy run!

Ladies' captain Lorraine leads by example at Haldon

Guess the race....!?

 'Haldon Heartbeat' is not a title for a country and western song, but the name of an off road 8.5 mile run through the Haldon Forest. This year it's in its second year of running and congratulations must go to the Haldon Trail Runners for organising an event which is likely to become a standard feature of the local running scene. The route changed slightly this year with the organisers opting to omit the initial lap of the race course service track - that was run on tarmac - in favour of heading straight out into the forest and having more of the event off road. What also changed from last year to this was the weather! At last year's event it was an unseasonably hot 28 degrees and sunny (I remember chucking entire cups of water over me at the drinks stations and still crossing the line looking like an overcooked beetroot (ed.)!). Weather this year was an unseasonably cold 6 degrees, misty and rainy.

The venue, at the Exeter Racecourse, is fun, novel and practical and with such a great location to play with, they came up with a testing but highly runnable twisty, muddy course through the forest following forest roads, footpaths and the odd 'gallop' thrown in.

The Harriers were out in force this year and Chris Dupain led them all home in a strong time for such a testing course of just over the hour: 1:00:26 in 36th place. He was closely followed by new member Pete Trapnell in a time of 1:04:29 for 62nd spot. Special mention must go to Pete who is only just getting back into running, so to finish second Harrier on his first competitive outing in many years gives us some idea of the form he may find later on in the season. 

Ben White, again supporting a strong Team Dupain contingent, also had a very solid run and managed to show girlfriend Emma the underside of his shoes again,  coming in just after Pete, 64th in 1:05:15.

Having a storming run for an old wrinkly thing (his words, ed. takes no responsibility for this particular insult!) was Terry Oldham. Terry made up the Harrier's men's team and clocked 1:07:08 for 76th place. He was soon followed by Emma Dupain (82nd in 1:07:40 and 7th female) and Emma's sister, Hannah Bown, 1:08:04 and 86th, 9th female. These latter had to eat their pre-race threats after having made it clear to Terry prior to the race that old and wrinkly things were incapable of beating them!! It seems they were wrong!

Nicolas Brown took 102nd spot in a creditable time of 1:10:30 and then Nigel Dupain clocked another solid performance for the family, 110th in 1:12:53.

Arguably the finest performance on the day came from our ladies' captain and coach, Lorraine Gilson. After having struggled with months of unfortunate injuries and niggles, Lorraine put those well and truly behind her to finish in a time of 1:14:37, 122nd place over all, but, most crucially, this gave her top spot in the FV50 category. A well earned trophey and box of chocolates, that our selfless cap shared with her fellow Harriers (... and it is rumoured that Terry may have had the lion's share...) was just reward for her hard efforts. A fine inspiration to her faithful band of ladies.

Martin Richards and Siobhan Trapnell crossed the line in swift succession, taking 139th and 140th places respectively, in times of 1:17:06 and 1:17:15. Martin's wife Diana was swiftly giving chase too, crossing the line in 1:17:57 for 144th spot.

There were quite a few new faces for the Harriers at this event, and the ladies group were showing the rest of the club that they can mix it at the races. Laura MacMahon was attempting her first trail race in a pair of road shoes, but judging by the smile on her face at the end, she seems to have taken a liking to the off road challenge. She finished in a time of 1:18:50 and 150th place.

And last but by no means least, our stalwart husband and wife pairing, Stan and Joan Mason, had a fun day out on the trails, with Stan finishing in a time of1:25:32 for 184th place and Joan very close behind in 1:26:16 for 190th.
Harriers were out in force at the Haldon Heartbeat, and a force to be reckoned with they were!

Ladies' captain, Lorraine Gilson, with her prizes for placing top vet 50!