Exe-rated runners!

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

Friday, 29 June 2012

8 Harriers 'Beat the Bus'

On Wednesday 27th June 8 Exmouth Harriers were on the village green in the nearby village of Otterton awaiting the arrival of the number 157 Exmouth-Sidmouth bus. Were they going to catch it for a nice leisurely ride over to Sidmouth? No! They were going to race it on foot across country to Sidmouth as part of a Sidmouth Running Club organised race.

Now in its 3rd year, this race came about by chance as the race director, Bill Valentine, was taking the 157 bus back from Exmouth to Sidmouth one day and decided to jump off at Otterton and run the last few miles back over the cliffs. As he descended into Sidmouth he was surprised to see the very same bus that he had got off just pulling in. A light bulb moment! If he could beat it there without really trying, maybe with a bit more effort he could also beat it back again... He contacted the bus company, Stagecoach, to see if they would be willing to sponsor a race that required runners to do just that: race the 157 from Otterton to Sidmouth and back again. They agreed and so 'Beat the Bus' was born!
The No. 157 bus appears in the mist in Otterton - now to race it to Sidmouth and back!

Main Race 

Last year saw the race run on a lovely sunny evening following a dry spell of weather and so although the race goes across fields and muddy farm tracks, all of these were totally dry, dusty and compacted, making the going easy, even in road trainers. Fast-forward one year and what a contrast! A few weeks of heavy main meant that the fields were muddy and the farm tracks were totally flooded with muddy puddles that were over knee-height in places, making the going much tougher and requiring the use of some off-road shoes with good grip! The weather on the night began by being a little misty but by the time we had ascended Peak Hill this gentle mist had morphed into a thick cloud cover and you could barely see where to go, let alone the runner in front of you!

However, the Harriers are nothing if not a hardy bunch, as evidenced by the fact that of the 8 of them that took part in this 9k (5.75m) race, 7 had already competed in races of half-marathon distance or more just 4 days before and so they were racing for the second time in a week!

The start of the race and the first hill of many. Ellie has Scott on her heels and Hannah is in pursuit close behind!

Hugh Marsden was one of these as he had already had a very fine run at the Torbay half on Sunday and followed this up with another strong performance here at Otterton that saw him place inside the top 10 of finishers overall (9th) and 1st in the MV50 category in 42:23. Again, a steady start saw Hugh pace the climb up to Peak Hill conservatively and then he really got going on the return, picking off runner after runner on the predominantly downhill return to Otterton.

Next was myself, Ellie Sutcliffe, who also raced at Torbay. I won this event and placed 12th overall last year but this year, despite knocking over half a minute off last year's time in tougher conditions, I had to settle for 2nd placed female and 15th overall in 43:43. I was just 11 seconds behind the winning female, Lucy Owen of the host club, Sidmouth, but her descending skills and speed proved too much for me to hang onto in the last downhill section!

Not far behind Ellie and having a superb run was Scott Jordan. Scott was really fired up for this one and wanted a good quality run to put to bed the demons that plagued him after he was forced to withdraw from the Torbay half at the 7 mile mark on Sunday. A rest between then and Wednesday clearly did wonders for our 2 Trigs as he blasted his way up and down the steep hills and also bagged one of those missing trig points (Peak Hill) in the process, thereby really putting to bed any lingering doubts from the 4 Trigs race... but sorry Scott, the nickname stays!! Scott placed 18th overall in a fantastic time of 46:20.

A mere 28 seconds later saw Hannah Bown cross the finish line. Her and Scott had been tussling for position throughout the race, with Hannah often gaining the advantage on the uphill sections but with Scott's fearless approach to downhill running allowing him to get ahead again on the descents. However, she had a fantastic run that saw her clock 46:48 for 21st place and a well-earned 3rd female spot and trohpey, beating some very fine runners that included the very experienced SWRR veteran, Karen Cook.

Terry Oldham was running on marathon weary legs, having taken part in the gruelling Trail Marathon Wales just 5 days before. You would never guess it though to see him attacking the climbs and flinging himself down the descents and this was evidenced by his strong time of 50:39 and his placing welling up the field, 33rd overall and 6th MV50.

Terry's partner Lorraine Gilson was hot on his heels and also having a good run, following on from her fine performance in the trail half-marathon in North Wales. She stopped the clock at 56:26 to claim 50th place overall and a very commendable 2nd place in the female over 50 category.

Next up was Martin Richards, gaining in fitness and in confidence with every race, Martin posted a time of 57:20 which gave him 56th place overall.

Last Harrier in but by no means last overall as she finished in the top two thirds of finishers, was Dawn Teed. Again, Dawn had produced a fine sub-1h50 run at the Torbay half at the weekend but did not let that hold her back here as she stormed home under the hour in 58:11 for 58th place overall and 6th FV40.
Dawn finishing strongly on Otterton village green

The bus takes about 55 minutes to make the return journey and so most of the Harriers managed to beat it with the others being very close.

Harriers with their certificates for beating the bus!

A muddy Scott has a scrub down in the stream after the race! (A.K.A. his annual bath!)

"Darn it. I dropped the soap"...

Fun Run

 Whilst we were all off over the cliffs to Sidmouth there was action back in Otterton in the form of 2 fun runs for children. An under 10s race saw a bunch of enthusiastic youngsters running one lap of the field above the village green, whilst the over 10s completed 2 laps. Most of the competitors across the 2 races were made up with families from Lympstone who are part of the running club started in the local primary school there by the Harriers' own Mike Musgrove. Sporting their club colours (pink!) on the night, the energetic band of mini-Harriers gave their all as they tore around the steep and uneven field. The under 10s race produced a victory for one of Mike's runners as he took top spot in the boy's 1 lap race. The running club has seen the children's running come on in leaps and bounds and many of the members are now excelling at their school cross-country races. If only more schools had an enthusiastic Musgrove to get the kids active and enjoying exercise! Well done to all the runners who took part!

Already competitive! Mike's running club youngsters (in their pink club vests!) make easy work of the hill

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Testing (and tiring) times at Torbay Half Marathon

Exmouth Harriers at the start of the Torbay Half Marathon
L -> R: Hannah Dupain, Dawn Teed, Hugh Marsden, Adam Miller, Trevor Cope, Ellie Sutcliffe, Roger Rowe

On Sunday 24th June, 10 Harriers toed the start line of the Torbay Half Marathon. One of the biggest half marathons in the south-west, the event also attracts a smattering of top quality runners due to the very generous prize money it offers. This year was no exception with the organisers offering £450 cash to the winning male and female and so, unsurprisingly, this saw a handful of Kenyan athletes making the trip down to the English Riviera to run the race.

This did not phase the small band of Exmouth Harriers, however, who lined up along side the other 1400 ish runners for the 2 lap course which takes runners from Paignton out to Torquay along the coast road, then back again and then repeated before finishing alongside Paignton Pier. Weather conditions were close to ideal with the rain having stopped just in time for the start, although some might say it was a little on the humid side, the sea breeze certainly helped to keep the air fresh.

At 9am the gun sounded and we set off on an initial lap of Paignton Green before leaving the town and climbing up the hill on the coast road towards Torquay. The climb does not seem so bad from the Paignton side, but on the return from Torquay it is a lot sharper and steeper and you really had to dig in to prevent your pace from slowing, particularly on the 2nd lap. Due to it being an out-and-back 2 lap course with the roads shut, you keep passing all the other runners at the turn around points. This not only helps you to see how far ahead or behind the competition you are but it also makes for a very sociable run as you keep passing your fellow team mates and shouting encouragement across the road at them... or just giving them a wave or a thumbs up / down once you became too tired and out of breathe to talk, let alone shout!

At the first turn around I could see that Dave Stone was lying in about 15th place and going along quite comfortably, and Adam Miller was really close behind, only about 30s to a minute adrift. I, Ellie Sutcliffe, was next and then Hugh Marsden was about 1 minute behind me at this stage, but with Hugh always preferring to start steady and wind up the pace towards the end, and myself opting to start hard and hope to hang on for as long as possible, I knew it was only a matter of time before he caught me up. He eventually did so at mile 7 and I never saw him again until the finish! On the first lap Marc Cox was going well, as was Hannah Dupain, who was just 20s or so in front of Scott Jordan, who in turn was about 30s ahead of Roger Rowe. Dawn Teed and Trevor Cope were also having good runs and looking fresh further down the field.

By lap 2 Dave had found his rhythm and pulled himself up a few places into 8th. Adam was still having a superb run too and was sat just 2 places and about 1 minute behind Dave and looking strong. Hugh was going like a train at this point and working his way up through the field, picking people off as he went. The surprise was that Hannah and Roger were now neck and neck at the 10 mile point but there was no sign of Scott Jordan. I then went on to pass Marc and Dawn and Trevor but no Scott: where was 2 Trigs?!

In the end these were our finish time and places:

Dave Stone: 1:16:48, 8th place overall and 1st MV40.
Adam Miller: 1:18:14, 10th place and 5th MV35.
Hugh Marsden: 1:23:52, 26th place and 3rd MV50.
Ellie Sutcliffe: 1:25:48, 40th place, 7th female and 1st 25-29.
Marc Cox: 1:30:06, 91st place.
Roger Rowe: 1:35:10, 140th place and 1st MV65.
Hannah Bown: 1:36:31, 169th place and 19th female.
Dawn Teed: 477th place (category placing not yet known)
Trevor Cope: 2:35:34, 1255th place. (Category placing not yet known)

1329 finishers, 479 of whom were females.
Winner: Tewodros Shiferaw of Birchfield Harriers in 1:06:14.
Female winner: Annabel Granger of Bristol and West in 1:21:20.

... You will notice there is one name missing from the above and that is Scott-2-Trigs-Jordan who sadly registered his first ever DNF. Unfortunately 2 Trigs learned the hard way that keeping up an intense training schedule alongside working full-time and being a full-time husband and Dad can sometimes leave you a bit depleted in energy. The disadvantage with a 2 lap race such as this is that if you are physically tired already, it is mentally exhausting to have to pass the finish and know you have another lap to do. On this occasion poor old Scott just couldn't find the mental strength to keep going and so he stepped aside after lap 1... and craftily still managed to get his goody-bag, tee-shirt and medal!! Not wanting to kick a man when he's down but... only doing 2 out of the 4 trigs and now only half of a half? I think the nickname might be lingering on for a while longer...
In all seriousness though, Scott is a tough cookie and he will not have taken the decision to withdraw lightly, so get a good rest Scott and you'll soon have your energy back and will be giving Dave and Marc a run for their money!

I would have liked to have used the excuse of having the Dartmoor Discovery still in my legs to justify the fact that I was over a minute outside my PB and conceded my 5th place at about mile 8 when 2 Erme Valley ladies passed me, who ordinarily I should beat, but Dave Stone's awesome performance kind of prevents me from doing that!! To say Dave ran his fastest ever DD just 2 weeks previously and then comes out and places 8th in such a high quality race, and top MV40, always a hotly contested category, is nothing short of amazing.

However, the performance of the day has to go to Adam Miller who set a new personal best on this, not the flattest nor fastest of courses, and managed to place top 10 alongside some incredible athletes, including 3 Kenyans! Following on from his new PB at the London Marathon, 2012 is turning out to be quite a successful year for Adam. Long may it continue!

Hannah Dupain also deserves a mention as to look at her and see her run on Sunday, you would never know that she had given birth about 6 months ago! Her time of 1:36:31 is not far off the times she was clocking before falling pregnant and there is certainly more improvement to come. Very exciting for next year... but no more babies Hannah!!!

This event also incorporated the South-west vet championships, so some medals will be winging their wee way to Dave, Adam, Hugh and Roger. Very well done guys! 

Some find that the entry fee for this event is a little steep at £20, however, the fact that you get to run on closed roads, with ample room, ample water stations, music bands lining the route for entertainment, and a quality tee-shirt and medal at the end makes up for it. All 10 Harriers who ran would certainly recommend this one!

Roger Rowe approaching the finish of the Torbay Half where he finished 1st MV65!
Hugh pushing for the finish line. This is clearly a man who is not trying hard enough.... ;-)

Hannah doing a quick time check as she approaches the finish and is pleased with what she sees!

Adam grinning away towards Carly and his parents as he reaches the finish, and no wonder! A PB and a top 10 finish at the Torbay Half - who wouldn't be pleased with that?

Ellie, very pleased to be making a run for the finish to the cheering crowds who were very encouraging to all the runners!

Katie, Terry and Lorraine hit the trails of North Wales!

On the weekend of 23rd / 24th June three Exmouth Harriers, Katie Comer, Terry Oldham and Lorraine Gilson, made the long trek up to North Wales to participate in the inaugural Trail Marathon Wales. Staged in the Coed-Yr-Brenin - a hilly wooded area in the south of the Snowdonia National Park - the event offered full and half marathon options, with Katie and Terry option for the former and Lorraine for the latter.
The following report on the race comes from Terry Oldham:
'Hello fellow Harriers and a brief report from the wilds of Wales. It was indeed a tough trail marathon. I have done a fair view off road marathons and greater distances over the years, but this was a toughie. At about 15 miles ish, (there were no mile markers and I don't do watches or GPS etc so it was a guestimate), I was ascending yet another hill, across open moorland on this occasion towards a lone marshall and an abandoned hillside farm house. I was very slowly overtaking a stocky black haired guy with a welsh club name emblazoned on his vest. As I drew alongside, I said: 'they are not kind to us are they', referring to the route planner, and he answered with a broad Welsh accent, 'bru-tal isn't it'. Just place the emphasis on the 'tal'. And yes that's... an accurate description of the route. If you are familiar with the Black Death Run or the dreaded ascent up the hill to Castle Drogo, on the Drogo 10, then this run would strike a lot of reminders of hills past (and possibly future). The final 'coup de grace' being a brutal hill climb of about 1 mile from the river valley to a point above the finish area, and then an extra half a mile or so of climb on forest road, before the final 'mile down hill' which was actually about a third of mile. I was running through my whole repertoire of swear words on those hills, and the poor route planner's ears should or would have been burning. Yet . . . and with runners (that's what makes us such strange beasts) there is always a yet, what a superb course in a superb location, and the fact that there had been a gale blowing the night before, and the rivers and streams were flowing fast and furious, and the clouds parting revealing the valleys below and the mist wreathed round the trees like white candy floss made it special indeed. And, the organisers of the first ever Trail Wales Marathon had done a sterling job and the course was well signed and marshalled, and the goody bag was, well, good. And, you had 26.8 or 27.3 (depending on which runner with a GPS you spoke to) for the price of 26.2! Congratulations to Katie and she did extremely well, pushing two Lakeland fell runners training for the Lakeland 50 all the way round, and Lorraine for an excellent time over this course. Maybe more Harriers next year?'
In the full event, Terry finished in 5:04:37 for 141st overall and 17th MV50. Katie was not far behind, clocking 5:15:11 for 166th place overall and 30th female. There were 225 finishers in the full marathon with about 10 people failing to finish, showing just how tough the course was.
In the half, Lorraine finished in a time of 2:23:14, giving her 137th place overall, 34th female and 4th FV50. There were 287 finishers.
To give some perspective on just how well they did, the first man took over three hours to complete the full marathon course - even the Snowdonia marathon usually sees about 20 or so runners dip in under that time. The fastest woman took over 3:30 hours. In the half, the winning male time was over 1:26 and the winning female posted a time of over 1:51. So clearly, you can think of adding a good 25-30 minutes onto a flat city marathon time to guage how long you would take on a course like this. Our 3 Harriers therefore did those club vests proud and managed to have some fun along the way, which is what running should be about afterall! Well done!
Katie and Terry nervously awaiting the start of the full marathon.

Just one of the many brutal climbs on the course!

Terry ploughs on along one of the easier forest road stretches.

Lisa Hatchard is challenged at Plym Valley

Now that summer is underway in name, if not necessarily in terms of associated weather conditions, the midweek evening races on the local running calendar have become plentiful. Last Wednesday saw the running of the 'Plym Valley Challenge'. Organised by the Instinctive Sports running club, who are based in Plymouth, this is a tough off-road event of approximately 9 miles in distance, subjecting participants to some challenging ascents and descents and come challenging terrain... hence the inclusion of the word "challenge" in the race title!

There was just one lone Harrier representative who made the trip south down the A38 and that was Lisa Hatchard. A graduate of the beginner's running course and now a staunch devotee of the Wednesday night ladies club, led by Lorraine Gilson, Lisa is just getting back into running seriously after a break of several years during which small matters such as having a family got in the way!!!

If her performance at this tough 9 miler is anything to go by, she is really getting her fitness back as she finished the race in a time of 1:18:58 for 72nd place and 14th female. (There were 110 finishers, placing Lisa just outside the top 60%).

The race was won by the very talented Kairn Stone, who was using it as a warm up for the Torbay Half Marathon, in 50:14. First woman home was FV40 athlete Jaine Swift of Erme Valley Harriers in 59:30.

Lisa said: This was my first race in 3 years, the 'Plym Valley Challenge', a very hilly off-roader, perhaps not the easiest of races to choose! Thank you to Joan, Lorraine and Alison for their support and encouragement'.

So for any other ladies reading this blog who perhaps doubt that they will ever regain their former fitness levels and never be at a standard adequate enough to compete again: Lisa is the living proof that it is possible! So dust off those old trainers, get the hubby to baby-sit and get back out there!! Lisa would certainly recommend it!

Monday, 18 June 2012

Harriers go Coast-to-Coast!

All the coast-to-coasters assemble at Wembury for a photo-call before the relay gets underway.

On the weekend of 16th / 17th June, many Exmouth Harriers took part in a new event: the Coast to Coast relay. The brainchild of Sir Terence Oldham, esq., this event was designed to be both a social get together, with overnight camping and food / beverage consumption involved, but also to be a challenging run across the beautiful Devonshire countryside. You will see from the report below that this first event was a huge success. Terry has of course thought to thank everyone involved for making it all go so smoothly and for making sure everyone had fun and stayed safe, however, he has, in his infinite modesty, forgotten to mention his key role in the affair: basically, without Terry, this event would not have gone ahead. It could now become an annual fixture on the calendar, with the possibility of opening it up to other clubs in the future and holding it as an extended relay race, similar to the A.V.R. organised East Devon Way relay. So Terry, on behalf of the Harriers, thank you for all the time, effort and energy you put into organising this inaugural event, which was enjoyed by all involved and will hopefully be the first of many.

Read on for Terry's report:

‘There has been some debate amongst the thinking classes as to what elements make up ‘Englishness’. On Sunday morning over breakfast at the home of Dawn Teed and Hugh Marsden, John Goss-Custard opined that the central characteristic of being English was an obsession with weather conditions. He is surely right with that, and for those taking part in the Coast to Coast, the weather was the topic of conversation for most of the weekend.

The Coast to Coast (being the south Devon and north Devon coasts) long distance footpath is some 117 miles long, linking Wembury (near to Plymouth) with Lynmouth. The distance is a challenge, as are the many hills, valleys, rivers, streams, meadows, woods, high moorland, and low swampy fields, which are crossed in making that journey. So, the best course of action is to choose a weekend in mid June when the weather conditions will be ideal, with sunshine, dry paths, and perhaps a cooling wind. Well, the choice was made but the weather clock appeared to have stopped sometime in February, so Saturday featured strong to gale force winds, and heavy drenching showers of rain whipping across the hills of Dartmoor.

Did this make any difference to the Exmouth Harriers band of runners and supporters who were going to tackle the challenge? Not the slightest difference.

The dramatic moment of the selecting of the relay pebble: which pebble would be the lucky chosen one? All the pebbles on Wembury beach looked on in anticipation that today would be their day to finally get out of the south and head north!

At 8.20 am sharp, after the ceremonial lifting of the pebble on Wembury beach, the first two runners, Bob Keast and Stan Mason, set off up the track away from the beach and heading north. Waiting at Yealmpton (pronounced ‘yamton’) was Lorraine Gilson, Dawn Teed and Nigel Dupain, to take the pebble and race on with the assistance of the strong tail wind. After what was described by Nigel as a ‘flat course’, they arrived at Ivybridge in good heart, to pass on the pebble to Hugh Marsden and Adam Miller. The next leg was anything but flat, leading up from Ivybridge and right over the top of the moor. This was when the rain came and swept with Hugh and Adam over the next 15 miles to Holne.

Stan Mason and Harriers Chairman, Bob Keast, had the honour of running the opening leg.
Here they are at the end of their leg, arriving into Yealmpton, on time for the handover.

Nigel Dupain, Dawn Teed and Lorraine Gilson ran the 2nd leg, with some welcome tail-wind assistance, from Yealmpton to Ivybridge.
In Ivybridge Adam Miller and Hugh Mrsden took over the batton... well, the pebble, and ran the third leg - a particularly taxing leg up onto Dartmoor.

Waiting at Holne church were Moira Glenn, John Goss-Custard and Dave Eveleigh. Pebble passed and away, they went heading via Hameldown to Hookney Tor. At this point, a combination of weather conditions and challenging hills slowed the group down so that Katie Comer and Terry Oldham were set off without the original pebble, but safely in charge of back up pebble no 2! Their destination, via Fernworthy, was Dogmarsh Bridge, and after an exhilarating descent down to the valley they had made good time to the change over point, so waiting but not quite ready, were Dave Backway, Scott Jordan and Marc Cox. However, having taken charge of the pebble, they were soon away heading along the Teign to Castle Drogo and onwards towards Colebrook.

Dave Eveleigh, Moira Glen and John Goss-Custard had some particularly inclement weather conditions on their leg, which took them across the high moor from Holne Church to Hookney Tor.

The route of the Coast to Coast (which is now following the Two Moors Way) is less than straight forward at times, and a few route variations were thrown in by the trio, as clearly 12 miles was never going to be enough for them. However, they were safely scooped up by the support vehicle at Colebrook and delivered safe and sound to Thorne Orchard which was the overnight stop for the event. So, that was day one of the running all done, and it was time to get the tents up and the barbecue on. Remarkably the rain had stopped, and with the kindness and hospitality of Dawn and Hugh, this was a wonderful evening chatting about the adventures of the day and consuming the odd glass or two of wine.

The next day brought some better weather and left Scott questioning Dave's dubious choice of footwear...

Too cool for school! The boys contemplate day 2...

Day 2 dawned bright and sunny and promised much better conditions for the day. After a leisurely breakfast, the first two runners of the day, Lorraine Gilson and Dawn Teed, were kitted up and ready to go. Off they went leaving Thorne Orchard at about 8.05 am and once more heading north. Little did they know just how far they were going to be running that morning! As they were running north, the support vehicles headed out and were safely waiting at Withyridge village hall

Lorraine Gilson and Dawn Teed kicked off the proceedings on day 2 and left the overnight camp venue (Hugh and Dawn's house - thank you for the hospitality!) in the sunshine!

 Unfortunately, a combination of factors meant that Lorraine and Dawn were delayed (including a land owner deliberately removing and or destroying footpath signs), so Dave Backway, Scott Jordan and Marc Cox, set off without them, their destination being Knowstone some 8 miles away. Waiting for them at the church was Elaine Kale and John Goss-Custard, who set off in bright sunshine, just as Dave, Scott and Marc came careering down the hill in to the village, looking tired but relieved to have made good time without deviation.

Here come the lads! Dave Backway, Scott Jordan and Marc Cox take an 8 miler from Withyridge to Knowstone in their stride.

Following a few navigational hiccups, Lorraine and Dawn ended up running farther on their leg than they had bargained for, so a welcome dip in the river to refresh the legs was called for!

Waiting at Hawkridge, the full complement of runners and support team were now back together, and Nigel Dupain and Chris Dupain, set off along the valley of the Barle towards Withypool. While Lorraine washed her legs in the river surrounded by the paparazzi, Hugh Marsden and Adam Miller were limbering up for the short but fast leg from Withypool to Simonsbath. Pebble in pocket, following a cracking run by Nigel and Chris and handover, they shot off along the road out of the village.

Father and son team, Nigel and Chris Dupain, ran a lovely stretch along the Barle Valley to Withypool.

Once again the vehicles rolled north, and as Hugh and Adam made their way by a more circuitous route, the final team of Katie Comer and Terry Oldham, were getting ready for their arrival and the ascent out of the valley to Exe Head. Once again Hugh and Adam made short work of their leg and the last 12 miles of the route lay ahead. Those 12 miles sum up the footpath in that it gives you close to a heart attack on the climbs but leaves you with wonderful memories of views across the hills and valleys, and on this leg the added bonus of the sea and the south Wales coast in the distance. In addition, the steep sided valley leading to Lynmouth has an almost Alpine feel to it, particularly the cruel zig zag descent followed by a crueller zig zag ascent, and the final adrenalin descent to the finish at the beach by the Rising Sun pub. Waiting their, refreshed by fish and chip suppers and a glass of beer, the support team clapped Katie and Terry in, who once again made good time, and the run was over.

The final ritual was played out in front of the cameras as the south coast pebble found itself nestling amongst its north Devon counterparts, watched by a curious and slightly baffled set of tourists and Manwell, Katie’s dog.

So, what was the score? A total time taken of approximately 20.2 hours to do the 117 miles (although that time is adjusted to take account of various factors) and so giving an average of 10.2 minute miling. A number of runners, Hugh and Adam in particular, were a lot quicker than that, and others were slower, but overall the team effort gave the predicted pace of 10 minutes a mile, which is not bad going for cross country running and on a course many had not even seen before.

It is hoped that all who took part will have some fond memories to take away with them, and a few smiles too as to comments made and jokes shared. A very big thank you must go to Janice Comer who drove the mini bus and miraculously took the bus through some of the narrowest lanes in Devon without a scratch. But the biggest thanks must go to Dawn Teed and Hugh Marsden for their hospitality and the never ending supply of tea and good food at their home on Saturday evening and Sunday morning.

Will this event happen again? Well, there was already talk about ‘next year’ on the Saturday and a suggestion that we go from North to South, so why not?’

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Ellie does win the D.D. after all!!

Ok, so, to come instantly clean, we are not talking of the Dartmoor Discovery D.D. here, but the Dawlish Dash (about 7/8th shorter and 99/100th flatter!!) Organised by the Dawlish Coasters, this great little run is just a shade under 4 miles and starts and finishes at the Boat House Inn, on the sea front at Dawlish Warren.

Despite being only 5 days after the D.D., I felt rested, having not done a scrap of exercise in between, and just had a few muscle niggles in the legs that I hoped I would work off! The first half of the race is run on the beach and sees you having to negotiate about 15 coastal defence groins. No sooner had we descended onto the beach and I managed to get a momento of said beach inside my trainer. It lodged itself under the ball of my left foot, made itself quite at home and felt so uncomfortable it appeared more boulder-like than pebble. Stopping to de-stone myself would have wasted precious time, so I ran on and learned to live with my pebble friend for the remainder of the race.

I almost came a cropper on one of the groins early on too. I approached with gusto, flinging my foot up onto it to hurdle it steeple-chase style, but I am no lithe, agile Kenyan and my foot slipped, almost cutting me in half upwar... yeh, well, you get the idea, it wouldn't have been pleasant! After this I took a more cautious approach and used my hand to vault the blighters, which lost me some time but saved me from causing myself a mischief!

After 3/4 of a mile down the beach you turn around and run all the way back again, then up the boat launch slope and onto the sea wall. You follow the sea wall almost as far as Dawlish before going up and over the railway bridge and onto the coastal path at the other side. This is the only hill on the course and only entails 60ft of height gain. From here it's a 1 mile steady canter back down towards the finish at the Boathouse.

In the last 1/2 mile my thighs were really beginning to tighten and had the race been much longer, I think they would have cramped up totally. Luckily I hung on to claim 1st female and 17th overall in 25:14, over 1 minute clear of the super talented veteran athlete Karen Cook of SWRR in 2nd. Pete Monaghan of Torbay AC won the race in a spritely 21:15 from my ex b/f, Daryl (Tarq) Milford of Teignbridge, in 2nd in 21:26 - pleased for him as he hoped to place top 3.

Abolutely fantastic prizes, which included a bottle of wine, some stationery, a tee-shirt (that actually fitted, for a change!), a slate coaster and a voucher for a meal of my choice in the Boathouse Inn, where I planned to eat after anyway... I may have ordered the sirloin steak... it may have been the most expensive item on the menu... :-/

119 runners completed the race. Ordinairily it would have been more but the atrocious weather conditions will have put some people off. The organisers say it was the worst weather they have known in all the years the race has been running! Despite the weather, a super little race, very low-key, and at only £6 to enter, well worth a try next year! ... Maybe we could hire a boat and sail across to the startline?!

Aproaching the finish of the Dawlish Dash.

Yeovilton 5k continues...

The Yeovilton summer 5 series, organised by Yeovil Town Road Runners, continued this week with the third round on Wednesday 13th June. Roger Rowe was once again on the start line for the Harriers. You might wonder why it's worth the trek up to Yeovil when Ironbridge Runner also stage a 5k series on the doorstep in Exeter. Well, whilst the Exeter course is fairly fast, the Yeovil course claims to be the fastest 5k in the country, being all on road and without a single contour in sight.
Roger is proving that he is Mr. Consistency on this course as on this, the third outing of the series, he clocked 20:53, just one second slower than the April race. He also ran an incredibly even paced run: 1st mile 6:44, last mile 6:44, overall pace 6:43.2. This gave him 58th place overall and a comfortable victory on the night in the MV65 category, however, he has moved down the placing slightly in the national rankings for this age category, dropping from 12th last month to 14th this. Roger is nothing though if not determined and so you can be sure he will try his hardest to claw his way back up again by the end of the season.

The ever-improving Shaun Antell won the race in a new PB time of 15:08. Alexandra Cutts of SWRR won the women's event in 18:56. There were 128 finishers. Next race is Wednesday 18th July, 7pm kick off!

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Yet more relay success for the Harriers!

The Exmouth Harriers are garnering quite a reputation for themselves in the area for consistently being the top act to beat when it comes to off-road relay race events. Having come out as top dog in the past two years at the Autumn Parrett Trail Relays and having taken a comfortable victory in last summer's East Devon Way relay, this week they targeted an event for the first time: the Woodland Relays in Colyton, near Seaton. Staged by the Axe Valley Runners, this is an invitation only event and teams are made up from the local clubs of Axe Valley, Sidmouth, Honiton, the met office and our good selves.

As the name suggests, these relays were run off-road in some woods. There are three legs, so each team consists of 3 runners who each run the same 2.2 mile circuit. The legs were basically downhill with a very steep uphill towards the end which was very difficult to run due to the steepness of the gradient and slipperiness of the terrain, although some managed it (including Marc Cox!).

We had 8 runners representing the Harriers on the night, and a quick calculation revelas that 8 does not divide by 3, and so one runner had the pleasure of going round twice. This pleasure fell to Scott-Two-Triggs-Jordan, and quite right too! Call it karma: doubling up to compensate for cutting in half the required distance on a certain other recent race...! ;-)

Our men's A team, consisting of Afam Miller on leg 1 (13:19), Mike Musgrove on leg 2 (13:37) and Jamie Pearson on the third and final leg (12.42), secured victory in a cumulative time of 39:38, with a winning margin of 1 minute 13 seconds from the Axe Valley Runner's mens A team. Jamie Pearson also has the honour of running the fastest leg of the evening! Well done lads!

Axe Valley Runners Mens B placed 3rd, then our Harriers B team came in 4th, with Scott Jordan taking the opening leg (15:19), Dave Backway the middle (14:49) and Marc Cox the anchor (14:14). This gave them a total accumulative time of 44:22.

Our final men's team, Exmouth Harriers Sore (not sure how that name came about!), had Jon Garrity opening up the proceedings (13:48), Mark Thompson filling in the middle slot (15:00) and Scott Jordan running again to complete the sandwich (15:58). This gave the team an amassed time of 44:46 and placed them a well earned 6th.

There were 26 teams in total who participated and so the Harriers flew the club flag with pride, occupying 3 of the top 6 finishing spots! Unfortunately we had no ladies team, neither did many other clubs, so this will be something to aim for next time.

The event had a lovely low-key friendly atmosphere and the Harriers greatly enjoyed their evening... so much so that they might have agreed to stage the next round of the relays. (Each participating club takes it in turns to stage a similar event throughout the year). So, get your thinking caps on as to where and when we could hold it!
All 8 Harriers who participated in the Woodland Relays in Colyton

Our victorious men's A team: Jamie (fastest leg of the night!), Mike and Adam

Monday, 11 June 2012

Good day at the D.D. office for D., D., and E!

Dartmoor Discovery 2012

The Dartmoor Discovery is a 32.3 mile ultra marathon organised by the Teignbridge Trotters and which starts and ends in Princetown. With this race it's not only the distance that makes this one of the most challenging races in the region, but it's also the neverending hills and the unpredictable weather conditions that have given this a fearsome reputation on the ultra running circuit. Nevertheless, 3 Harriers felt brave enough to give the thing a bash, and here's how they got on...

Weather: Some would say ideal conditions - the gale force winds of the previous days had died down, there were showers, but only light ones and not long-lasting, there was patchy sun but not too hot. Temp. about 12 degrees; though many of us found that the last 8 or so miles got quite cold as there was a head wind and our pace had dropped off by then so we weren't generating enough heat to keep the muscles warm.

On the start line and psyching ourselves up for the colossal 32.3 mile task ahead.
(I seem to have already decided it's not going to go well and have bowed my head in resignation!)
A tired and (in my case!) almost hypothermic Dave and Ellie at the end of the race.

Dave Stone's race: Dave had an asolute stormer of a run and ran his fastest D.D. time ever of 3:43:59, on his 8th attempt at the event. Ordinarily this would be easily good enough for the win - it was about 8 minutes quicker than last year's winning time - but on this occasion someone phenomenal in the form of John Ward from Bideford AC came out of the woordwork! Dave knew that John was fast (he's a sub 2h30 marathoner!) but he hoped he would have the advantage on the stamina side, with John being a novice of ultra running and Dave being a hardened pro. However, John proved to have both speed and stamina and he stormed home to a comfortable victory and also breaking the course record, clocking 3:33:36! So Dave can take heart from knowing that he was beaten by a superb athlete. He can also take heart from the fact that he is still getting quicker, year on year. However, he was a bit frustrated that he and John are in the same MV40 category, so Dave even had to settle for 2nd place in that too!
Dave's splits:
10k: 39:05   20k: 1:16:50    30k: 2:05:47   Mara: 2:59:11   50k: 3:33:18   Finish: 3:43:59

Dave, still up with the winner, John Ward, at Newbridge (mile 10)
This looks like a man who is pleased to have sighted the finish line!
A massive new course best for Dave, an outstandingly gutsy run!
Dave with his prize (a cut glass decanter) for coming 2nd. Quick!, get the port poured out!

Ellie's race: I had a shocker! Hated every minute of it and wanted to give up about 8 miles in! Had a stinking cold all week leading up to it and threw every medicine under the sun at it which I think upset my stomach as I had bad cramps for the first half of the race. Despite being billed as the favourite I knew I wasn't the favourite and, as predicted, Isobel Wykes from Truro AC got ahead of me at the first hill at Dartmeet and I never saw her again! Disheartening to know from early on that I was running for 2nd again, so I set myself a goal of running sub 4h20. I failed at that too and struggled massively in the last 10 or so miles. I got very cold over the latter stages and my leg muscles seized up. I have never been so grateful to see a finish line in my entire life! So, I did run faster than last year by 6 minutes, but not quite the time I was hoping for with 4:27:02. 13th overall (exactly the same as last year), 2nd female, beaten very convincingly by Izzy who was only 5 minutes outside the female course record. So, like Dave, I repeated the same position as last year. With this time last year I would have won, but again, a super quality athlete popped up and ran a fantastic race, so I was at least beaten good and proper by a very deserving winner!
Ellie's splits:
10k: 43:13   20k: 1:28:08   30k: 2:24:32   Mara: 3:29:33   50k: 4:13:27   Finish: 4:27:02

(Excuse the vest! I was running on behalf of my 2nd claim club, Teignbridge, to represent the ladies team).

Mile 4 and not feeling as fresh as I would like... gonna be a long day!
Mile 21 at Widecombe and clearly enjoying myself more than I remember doing!
I've never been so grateful to see a finish line in my life!
Receiving my prize for finishing 2nd lady... my mother's already eyeing it up for her crysanths!

Dave Wright's race: Dave has only been running for a couple of years. He took it up as the big 5-0 birthday approached after having read somewhere that if you're not fit by the time you're fifty, you never will be! Not content at just dabbling with fitness though, he threw himself in at the deep end by training for his first marathon in the autumn of 2010. Which one did he pick? Abingdon - nice and flat? Dartmoor Vale - nice and local? No! He chose the Snowdonia as his first ever marathon, so you can already see that this man likes to set himself a tough challenge! Small wonder then that he signed up for the D.D. Dave was feeling confident that he would perform well, based on his recent marathon times and on how well the training had gone. He was hoping for a finish time of around 4h40. He set off hard and went through 10k and the first major hill on the course just behind me, in about 44 mins, and he stuck to his task throughout the race, digging deep in the latter stages when every fibre of his body was screaming at him to stop, and he finished in 4:46:41 for a well earned 28th place overall. Although he didn't quite make his 4h40 target, this is a phenomenal time for a debut on this course. Most impressively, however, this placed him top man in the MV 50 category! He beat some very high quality athletes in this category, including Alan Boone from the host club, Teignbridge Trotters, so Dave should be thrilled and incredibly proud at this amazing performance.
Dave's splits:
10k: 43:44   20k: 1:30:23   30k: 2:33:21   Mara: 3:45:11   50k: 4:32:29   Finish: 4:46:41

So, all 3 Harrier entrants came away with some prize money (IBR vouchers!) and tropheys. To any other Harriers who are tempted to have a bash at this iconic race next year we say: come and have a go if you think you're hard enough!!

Dave Wright, going strong at mile 4

Battling on through Buckland-in-the-Moor, mile 18

Still looking strong at the finish, setting an amazing time for a debut Discovery!

Dave with his well deserved and hard earned prize for placing 1st MV50.

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Mike is the pide-piper at the Umborne Ug!

Mike Musgrove not only led the Harriers home but also all but one of the runners in the main 10k Umborne Ug race on Saturday June 9th, as he finished 2nd overall. In addition, and in true pied-piper manner, he has inspired lots of youngsters from his village of Lympstone to have a go at running by starting up a running club at the local primary school, and many of these children competed in the shorter 4k fun run on Saturday evening.  

In the main race, the 4 competing Harriers - Mike and Nic Musgrove, and Martin and Diana Richards - got a bit of a surprise as they thought the Ug was a fairly flat course... not quite so! It infact boasts nearly 1000ft of climb over a distance of just 10k. The going underfoot was not always easy either as, after a gentle start down the country lane, the route veers off into fields where the runners had to plough their way through waist high wet grass. The route then rises up to some woods, from where there are some stunning views over the Axe Valley for any who want to take time to admire them, before it descends back down along some muddy tracks and fields and back into the village.

Mike came a bit of a cropper when he took a wrong turning on the course. He confesses to having "a bad habit of ignoring directional signs', but I guess when you are running as fast as he is, it's easily done, so we'll let you off! Despite this small navigational mishap, which he estimates cost him about 90 seconds, Mike still secured a solid 2nd place overall, in a time of 45:00, 3 1/2 minutes behind the winner, Tim Lenton of Norfolk Gazelles. Mike was also top MV40.

Next Harrier was Martin Richards who completed the tough multi-terrain course in under the hour, with 59:12 for 49th place and 8th MV40. Martin's wife Diana was not that far behind him, coming in just over 3 minutes later in 59th place overall in 1:03:21. This gave her 13th female overall and 3rd FV45.

Nic Mugrove completed the Harriers' contingent with a very fine time of 1:11:48 for 70th position overall and 20th female. Not forgetting that Nic is relative novice to running and certainly to competing, this is looking very promising for the summer season!

There were 92 finishers in the main event.

In the fun run 5 famililes from Lympstone were competing. Some of them are not runners at all and some are very new to it - no doubt having been coerced into trying it by Mike!. All had a really fun evening and enjoyed the run and the friendly atmosphere that is so characteristic of these Axe Valley Runners' East Devon Race Series events.