The runners faced a challenge just getting to the venue with road closures in place due to flooding around Bicton College, where the races start and finish. A thigh deep, 50m long puddle that had engulfed the lane out the back entrance of the College meant that a last minute re-routing of the race was needed, with runners being directed into a neighbouring field to avoid a dunking, and this before they even got to the off-road section of the run!
Due to the course being saturated and very boggy throughout, conditions were tougher than ever this year for the runners and this was reflected in the top three mens' and womens' times being 3-4 minutes down on previous years. However, the animated post-race banter suggested that all the participants had enjoyed the taxing, undulating course, which keeps runners guessing throughout as they twist and turn around the pebbly paths of the beautiful Woodbury Common, tackling a variety of terrain and natural obstacles.
The main 10 mile race was won by Stuart Hall of Devon Fire and Rescue Service in a time of 1:04:38. Stuart is a previous winner from 2010 and has also placed 2nd and 3rd in recent years. He also took away the top veteran prize. Lee Turner of Torbay AC was a strong 2nd place in 1:04:45 with club mate Simon Longthorpe claiming the 3rd spot in 1:05:15.
In the women's race, visiting runner Clare Miller from London Heathside took the spoils, clocking a time of 1:18:23 for 36th place overall. All the more impressive is that she completed the run in road shoes as a friend had entered her for what she thought was going to be a road race! Talented local veteran runner, Caroline Hewitt of Tiverton Harriers, grabbed the 2nd spot and top female vet, in 1:21:39 and unattached runner, Joanna McKenzie, made up the top three in 1:22:17.
In the 4.5 mile 'Lite' event, Christian Hewitt of Tiverton Harriers stormed to victory in 30:14, with unattached runner Sam Leary 2nd in 30:51 and Tavistock AC member Harrison Baker 3rd in 32:00. Exeter based South West Road Runner, Clare Hodgson, won the women's section in 36:03, with team mate and super-veteran runner, Karen Cook 2nd in 36:57, and another talented, local veteran athlete, Maggie Hunt, 3rd in 37:36.
With most of the Harriers tied up on marshalling duties, there were just a handful of Exmouth representatives running. In the main race, Marc Cox, nursing a slight foot injury, was the first Harrier home, in 39th place overall in 1:19:07. Nicolas Brown did 1:32:46 for 143rd place; Susan Hill 1:51:17 for 315th and Jim Wyatt ran 1:54:11 for 336th place and 2nd man over 70.
In the 'Lite' race, the participants of the successful Exmouth Harriers' beginners' running course were bravely tackling their first race. This not being the easiest race for a first attempt at competitive running, they all did superbly to finish in well under the hour. Catherine Gentry completed in 45:51 for 33rd place; Joanne Hollywood-Tucker was 38th in 47:22 and Jan Maker was 50th in 50:53. Having fun and not taking the race too competitively was stalwart Harriers' member, Lorraine Gilson, running with her son, Gareth, and daughter, Sarah. They all finished in 59 minutes and returned very wet and muddy with big grins on their faces!
Thanks must go to everyone who helped to make the event a success, including Harriers and their families who marshalled or did the time-keeping and results, the Exmouth Cadets who also helped to marshal, Bicton College for the venue, Sidmouth RC for the loan of some of their time-keeping equipment and St. John's Ambulance who, fortunately, were not kept busy on the day and had time to have a cup of tea and enjoy the atmosphere!
Some of the proceeds from the race will go towards the Wukro-Devon Running project, which the Exmouth Harriers support, and which helps to fund financially poor, but talent rich athletes in Ethiopia.
Jim Wyatt makes a splash at the stream crossing!
A squadron of Exmouth Belles (many of them 2nd claim Harriers) face an added obstacle at the stream crossing!