Dartmoor Vale Marathon
This race, being the only road marathon in Devon, incorporates the Devon County Championships. On the start line contesting it were 2 Harriers representatives: Dave Wright and relative newcomer, Stuart Pearson. This was Dave's first ever marathon last year, having only just taken up competitive running in the summer of 2011. He clocked a very respectable debut time of 3:26:10 on this challenging course, which is by no means flat! (If you are familiar with the July Chudleigh 6 Carnival race, you are familiar with THAT hill: 1.5 miles long, very steep, and this hill is tackled twice on this 2 lap marathon course!)
This year Dave wanted to see an improvement on last year's time, and with his PB now down to 3:15:55, set at the North Dorset race in May, he was certainly capable of that. However, he confessed to not having had the best preparation and was lacking in a few long training runs, but his legs obviously remembered what it's like to run the distance and they got him around in a superb time of 3:20:21. 6 minutes better than last year and crucially, this gave him a top 10 spot overall in the race - 9th - and 1st MV50. So Dave is now also the MV50 county marathon gold champion, improving on his silver medal from last year. Well done Dave.
When asked on the start line what sort of time he was looking for, a nervous Stuart Pearson said, 'Well, I'd like to do around 3h10, but now I've said that I probably won't do it. Maybe I should give a low estimation then whatever I do will seem more impressive!' Unfortunately though, Stuart is an honest guy and gave an honest answer and whilst we know he's capable of this time, marathons are unpredictable beasts and anything can happen on the day. On this occasion, the hills just slightly got the better of him and slowed his predicted speed down. He nevertheless still had a strong run to finish 19th overall in 3:28:58.
Only the one runner went under the 3 hour barrier, unattached runner Charles Jans taking the win in 2:48:29.
Dartmoor Vale Half
We had just the one Harrier representative in the half-marathon event and that was our super-vet athlete, Mick Allen. Clearly none the worse for wear after giving his all at the Parrett Trail relays the week before and proving that age is still no barrier to a decent performance, Mick made light work of this hilly course to post a time of 2:04:51 which gave him 262nd place overall and a comfortable victory in the MV70 category.
There were 354 finishers in the half event with victory going to Pete Monaghan of Torbay AC who was a full 8 minutes ahead of the second placed athlete!
Dartmoor Vale 10k
The majority of Exmouth Harriers, albeit a small majority, opted for the shorter 10k option. Shorter and flatter it may be, but this race was perhaps the most competitive of the day and there could be no relaxing and sauntering around if you wanted to perform well. And good performances were on the agenda for all 3 Harrier participants.
Winning the race in emphatic style was our Eithiopian guest member, Berihu Tesfay. Despite going wrong a total of 3 times in the early stages - fortunately nothing major, just the odd wrong turn before he was shouted at by the helpful chasing pack of runners, having to catch them and pass them again to regain the lead - Berihu won the race in 33:30. Almost 2 full minutes ahead of second place and, crucially, in a new course record time, taking over 1 minute off the previous course best, set by Pete Monaghan, winner of this year's half, in 2009. A time we think will be hard to beat on this undulating course around Kingsteignton.
Next in was myself, Ellie Sutcliffe. On the start line I spotted a few of my regular rivals and knew that if I wanted a victory here I would really have to work for it. I was also hoping that there might be an outside chance of a PB, so I set out hard from the gun and led from the start. I find that I always run harder when I am running scared and so I gave it my all but 2 hills on the course just slowed my time enough to make a PB attempt just beyond my grasp. In the end I crossed the line in 11th place overall, 1st place in the female race, 6 seconds outside of my PB in 38:10, but, following Berihu's lead, I set a new female course record, taking 1 minute 27 secs off the previous record set back in 2008.
Shortly after came Cathy Newman, who has been returning to fine form since returning from Eithiopia earlier in the year. Cathy was tantalisingly close to getting in under the 40 minute mark, just missing it by 2 seconds, clocking 40:01 to claim 26th spot overall, 4th place in the female race and top FV50 by a clear mile. This time also ranks her as 12th fastest FV50 over the 10k distance this year and we are sure there is more to come, perhaps when she tackles the Weston 10k in December?
287 finishers in this race, the winner being mentioned above!
These are superbly organised races by the Dartmoor Vale Rotary Club. Not easy to stage 3 races of 3 different distances on the same morning, but all went smoothly on the day. And added point of interest was that former politician and Strictly Come Dancing star, Ann Widdecombe, gave up her Sunday to come and start the races, present the medals at the end and present the prizes. She was a great sport and really got into the spirit of things, even coming up with the idea of staging her own race next year over a distance of half a kilometer, for the over 65s only! The Widdecombe Waddle, anybody?!
Ann Widdecombe having a laugh over David and Stuart's heads at the start of the marathon
Ann, on the gantry on the right, officially gets the 10k race under way
Berihu crossing the line in 1st place and setting a new course record
The 10k participants: Cathy, Berihu, Ellie. Clearly race numbers 2, 0, 7 and 9 are a winning combo!
Ann Widdecombe presented us with our trophies!