Exe-rated runners!

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

Thursday, 30 May 2013

A successful weekend for the Hatchards!

The Harriers is full of running couples and Lisa and Tony Hatchard are one of several examples in the club who manage to juggle work, family life and both of their training and running schedules with huge success. A key process in this success seems to be mutual support and give and take, so that they both get a crack at doing the sport they love. If their performances from this weekend are anything to go by, this pair are getting it spot on!

On the Saturday, Tony stormed around Killerton parkrun to 3rd place overall and a massive new course PB of 17:52. This will be a great confidence boost for him as he has been working hard on getting his fitness back ready for the Torbay Half in 4 weeks time.

Tony at Killerton parkrun, on his way to a sub 18 min clocking

Lisa was spectating and on parent duty on the Saturday, but on the Sunday it was her turn to take centre stage as she prepared to tackle something totally new to her (and, indeed, to most members of the Harriers): an aquathlon. Organised by the Exeter Tri Club, this event formed part of a wider series of events that have been taking place around the region throughout Srping. This particular round was held at Exeter University in their outdoor swimming pool.

Lisa first had to swim 600m (24 lengths) and then run 5k. She was contesting the novice event, as this was her first attempt at a dual discipline race, and she did superbly well, finishing as top female and in 2nd place overall. Her swim time was a brisk 8:37 and her run, on a hilly 5k course, 24:06. Amazingly, her run time was the fastest overall by 2 minutes, beating all the men in the process! If this debut is anything to go by, Lisa could have found a new niche talent for multi-discipline events!

Well done Lisa! We're all very proud and in awe of you for trying something completely new!

Harriers clean up at the Devon County track and field championships!

There has been much talk in the athletics' fraternity of late about diminishing numbers at county track and field championships and, certainly, the numbers participating in the distance races at the Devon County Championships were very small in comparison to those at road and multi-terrain races, but for those who were willing to give it a go, they found that they were rewarded with medals and PBs a plenty! The low cost of entry - £4 for your first event and £2 for each subsequent event - adds a financial incentive to trying out the track and running a fast time in the process. Five Exmouth Harriers, the majority with either very little or no prior experience of racing around the 400m oval, rubber strip, were prepared to give it a go last week-end (26 & 27 May), when the event took place at Exeter Arena.

Carly Miller was the first Harrier to test herself when she contested the 1500m (just under 1 mile) on Day 1. This was her first time running over this distance but she had set herself a pre-race goal of completing within the 6 minute barrier: no easy task for a first attempt at a 1500m! Nevertheless, unfazed, she went out hard and attacked it from the gun, passing through the first 400m a little ahead of her planned pace. For the next 2 laps she backed off slightly and got into a rhythm, then, when that magical bell sounded in her ear, she kicked and gave it all she had, crossing the finish line in a time of 5:59:86. Inside her target time and perfectly paced, as if she had been doing this for years, not for the first time! Her efforts were rewarded with a silver medal in the senior women's category.

Dave Eveleigh then tackled the same distance in the men’s race that followed. This is his preferred distance and he made the most of the good conditions to storm around the track to a new season's best of 5:32:61, taking 5 seconds of his previous best this year. This is also his best performance of the year in terms of an age-graded score and will give him a good boost in the club championship. He was comfortably 1st man age 55-59 and, as such, received a gold medal for his fine run. 

By the time the 5000 metres (12.5 laps) race came around, later in the afternoon, the weather had gotten warmer, but the wind had also picked up slightly. Not that this was going stop the two Harriers contesting this mixed-sex event from giving it their all. In the women's race, I, Ellie Sutcliffe, was trying my hand at my first ever track race. Prior to October last year, I had never set foot on a track since it was enforced upon me at school (#shudders at the memory). I am now comfortable with doing reps on it, but racing on it was to be a whole new experience. After a few minor corrections for etiquette (or, rather, lack of it) at the start line, I was off, chasing after the experienced Helen Dyke from the gun. Helen got the gap in the opening lap and, although it never grew, I didn't manage to reduce it much either. Eventually Helen took the win in 18:16 and I finished 9 seconds adrift in 18:25:05. Fighting off a late charge from a fast closing Newton Abbott athlete pushed me on in the final 100m to a new PB time over the distance by 15 seconds. As Helen is a vet 35 athlete, I cannily managed to scoop the gold medal for the senior race. Felt a bit of a fraud as I was clearly 2nd, but that's the way they work it, and I ain't complainin'! 

Ellie, feeling the heat (and the pain!) in the 12.5 lap 5000m race.

In the same race, also being pulled up for his lack of track etiquette - what a pair, we'll give the club a bad name! - was new Exmouth Harrier member, Rob Orton. Although new to the club, Rob is not new to running and was a member of Tavistock AC for many years before moving to France where he spends the most part of the year. However, when he's back visiting family in Devon, he stays in Woodbury and last autumn he attended a few training sessions with the club and liked us; so this year he decided to sign up and this weekend's race was his debut in the blue and gold vest! If his performance in the 5000m is anything to go by, we are lucky to have him, as he is clearly a talented athlete. Rob himself was slightly dissatisfied with his run as he paced himself according to his garmin and not to how he felt: the technology went slightly awry, with the satellites (and thus, the distance), not being accurate, and by the time he realised he had left it too late to react and make up the ground. A substantial negative split and a time at Killerton parkrun from the previous week that was only 4 seconds slower, on a hillier, rougher surface, confirms that there is much more to come from Rob over this distance in the near future. Nevertheless, he still bagged a small PB of 16:21 and scooped a bronze medal in the 'Combined Events'.... er, sorry, 5000m race! ;-) (You had to be there to get this little joke!)

Day 2 dawned and it was time for Adam Miller to uproot himself from the sunny grass bank he had been lounging on as a spectator on day one, to dust off his racers and have a go himself. He opted for the 3000m, a new distance to him, and also his first ever experience of a track race outright. Not knowing what to expect of himself over such a short distance and following a season of marathon training, he set himself the rough figure of a sub 10 minute clocking as a pre-race target. Blustery conditions greeted the athletes on day 2, making their task slightly harder, but Adam is nothing if not gutsy and he set out hard, attempting to stay with the leaders. It soon became apparent that an under 20 junior athlete was a clear front runner in the race and he comfortably began to pull away, leaving Adam with Exeter University athlete, Will Cullen, to hang onto to. Having raced Will several times over the cross country terrain, he knew he was an athlete to be respected and, with Will having the added advantage of having run several 3000m races, his experience triumphed on the day. Adam was still a highly creditable 3rd overall though in a time of 9:51:28, well inside his 10 minute target, and he took the spoils and a shiny gold medal for the men over 35 section. 

Adam contesting his first ever track race: the 3000m (7.5 laps).

In the same 3000m race, Dave Eveleigh was delighted to hold off category rival, Dave King, for the first time in four races over this distance to win the men aged 55-59 category in 12:00:56: agonizingly close to a sub 12 minute clocking, but, in the windy conditions, and considering he had also raced the 1500m the day before, was a superb time nonetheless. That shaky performance at Ivy Bridge 10k is now but a distant memory for Dave!
Dave, pulling away from category rival Dave King, in the 3000m

Carly Miller also did the 1500m - 3000m double and came up with a second Personal Best at the Championships in recording a time of 12:44:82. Undeterred by the fast start, Carly ran her own race and, after establishing a good rhythm in the opening laps, found that she was able to reel in an athlete from Bideford who had started to fall off the pace. This was not Carly's first attempt at this distance as she had done a couple of the IBR organised winter 3k races, but the more clement conditions seem to have suited her as she took 15 seconds off her previous best.

Carly, just after the overhauled a female rival from Bideford AC, in the 3000m

In total the five Harriers came away with five Personal Bests and six medals! Not a bad tally for such a small club, showing that once again, we can punch well above our weight when it counts!!

The 4 Harriers from day 1 and their trinkets. 

Monday, 20 May 2013

Credit to the Crediton Crunch!

I, Ellie Sutcliffe, was once again the sole Harrier at this well organised, multi-terrain event staged by the Crediton Running Network. The race was in its third year this year and credit(on?!) must go to the CRN for putting together such a great event. As a cheap-to-enter local race, this really did tick all the boxes: a beautiful, well marshaled course, a good set-up and atmosphere at the race HQ (in Lords Meadow Leisure centre, with bargain cakes, excellent showering facilities and free massage), a good quality finishers medal and goodie bag that included not just 1, but 2 chocolate bars, and, for myself who was fortunate to win the ladies race, a lovely top quality trophy and a gold medal that puts the Devon County A.A. ones to shame!

The route was described as being very hilly but in reality - and particularly after last week's beast of a run at Killerton - it was not that bad. (500ft of climb compared to last week's 1200ft!). It was billed as 10k (ish) and measured in at 6.35 miles on my garmin. The highlight of the run was running through the private grounds of Downes House, formerly the home of Sir Redvers Buller (whoever he was!). Nice pad though!

I set off with gusto and at about one mile in there was a hairpin bend that allowed me to look back up the lane and see who was behind me. Unable to see any other women, I could then relax a bit and just concentrate on keeping a good rhythm. As it turned out it was a good thing I had made such a gap early on as from about 2 miles in I started to feel dreadful: the legs suddenly felt like led weights and I felt very spacey and lethargic. From here on in it was a case of damage limitation and trying to hang on to the finish. I felt fine as soon as I finished - just one of those days where you inexplicably just don't feel right, we all have them! I slipped a few places but finished in 17th place overall, first female, in a new female course record (not forgetting the race has only been going 3 years though, and only 2 years on this present route, so I'm sure this will be easily beaten) in a time of 42:42.

Would definitely recommend it to Harriers who like a mixture of terrain (50/50 off and on road) and cheap but good quality cakes at the finish.... just the 2 for me on this occasion, ultimate restraint!

Start of the Crediton Crunch - an uphill start, always nasty!

A podium place for Nigel in the Run Exe 5k!

Tuesday 14th May saw the first round of the Run Exe Summer 5k series get underway. Organised by Ironbridge Runner Events, this is a flat (apart from 2 very small slopes up off the river bank), fast 2 lap course around Flower Pots playing fields, in Exwick. There is one race each month from May - September and runners can opt to run them all, some or just one of the races, but at least 4 out of the 5 need to be completed to be in the running for series prizes.

The Harriers were well represented at this first round; perhaps the introduction of the club championship this year has enticed a few of them to have a go to tick off the '5k column' and add another category to their bid for completion of the required 6 races. Who knows, but what is certain is that they all had very good runs, particularly considering that the conditions were not favourable, with puddles on the course following a heavy downpour before the race and a stiff wind on the course too.

The first Harrier home was Chris Dupain, in 25th place overall, in a fine time of 19:23. Chris will have been pleased to get one over on his sister, Hannah, after she managed to beat him 2 days previously at the Beer Blazer event! Perhaps Chris favours the flat tarmac terrain whilst Hannah is more at home when offroad in the hills! Hannah wasn't too far adrift though, posting a fine sub 20 minute time of 19:51 for 31st place overall and 4th female.

Andy Johnson was the next Harrier across the line. He takes part in this 5k series most years and his times are always consistent, showing that year on year, he is not getting any slower. On this outing he ran 21:02 for 46th place and 4th MV45.

Less than a minute behind Andy, and also having raced in the Beer Blazer 2 days previous, was Ben White. Ben clocked a time of 21:46 for 52nd place overall.

Keeping a tight leash on her husband-to-be was Emma Dupain, who had Ben in her sights the whole way but just couldn't close the 21 second gap, finishing in 22:07 for 57th place overall and 11th female on the night.

Nigel 'Pops' Dupain made it a solid half dozen Harrier performances with his useful time of 23:10. This gave him 6th place overall and top spot in the MV60 category. Nigel - you know you're going to have to do the rest of the series now to try and hold on to pole position, don't you?!!

There were 86 finishers. Exeter University student, Jack Fitsall, won the race in a brisk 16:12. Top woman was SWRR's Emma Sharples in 18:56.

Well done to all 6 Harriers who hauled themselves out of their cosy homes on such a nasty evening. The first rounds of both the Yeovilton and the Run Exe "Summer" 5k series have not been graced with "summer"-like conditions. In the words of D:Ream: things can only get better. On on to round 2!

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Harriers are here, there and everywhere over the past week!

The week of 5th - 12th May was certainly a hectic one for the Exmouth Harriers, who were participating in no less than 8 different events in 4 different counties!

Kicking them off on Sunday 5th May was Dave Wright who headed to Sturminster Newton in Dorset to take part in the North Dorset Villages Marathon. Dave has a soft spot for this event, despite it's rather insalubrious start time of 8:30am, as this is the third year in a row he has set his alarm clock for 5am to get up there  in time to toe the start line. It is a great little event with a friendly, low-key feel, yet with top notch organisation - runners can even deposit their own personal drinks out on the course, giving them the feeling of being an elite marathoner!

In finishing the 26.2 miles in a fine time of 3:18:53, Dave made it a dozen marathons completed this year by members of the Exmouth Harriers. This time gave him 29th place overall out of 294  finishers. He was 5th in his 50-54 age category. This is impressive indeed as Dave has to fit his training in around his long work hours as a maths teacher at the local secondary school.

On the same day and at the extreme other end of the spectrum in terms of distance covered was Dave Eveleigh, who took part in the 1500m race at the Devon Open Meeting in Braunton, north Devon. He finished in the middle of a field mixed in age and gender but was satisfied with a time of 5:37 for a distance he favours and, in so doing, added yet another fine string to his championship bow.

Midweek saw the second round of the Yeovilton Summer 5k series take place on a pancake flat course at RNAS Yeovilton, in Somerset. With most of the first round Harriers who ran unable to take part, it was left to Jon Garrity to fly the Harriers flag at this event, and he did so in style. In much more favourable conditions than greeted him in the first round (the wind being in the right direction, providing some welcome assistant on the out and home stretch), Jon stormed around the course in a time of 18:12, over a minute quicker than his time from the last round, and a new PB for the 5k distance. This gave him 22nd place overall and 3rd MV40. As Jon continues to sharpen up over the coming months, a sub 18 minute time is looking like a highly realistic possibility.

A dozen Exmouth Harriers were at the Ivybridge 10km Race on Saturday evening. Opinion was divided on the speed of the course which has a very steep, but short, uphill section between 3km and 4 km but is then mostly downhill for the latter half of the race. The event is very popular though with over 600 entries and is always competitive.

Adam Miller had an extremely impressive top 10 position (10th exactly), though his time was a fairly modest 35:41. Adam did not see this as a course for a personal best, and perhaps he was still feeling the effects of having the efforts of his London Marathon performance in his legs, but on the right course, on the right day, he will surely chop at least 2 minutes off that time in the not too distant future.

Marc Cox is a name that has not appeared in local race results a lot recently but here he was back with a bang. Marc was 16th in 36:44, which represents a massive new personal best for him, carving 20 seconds off his previous 10k best, set at the local Woodbury event last September. 

Mike Musgrove would have expected to finish in around 36 minutes but he cut a rueful figure pedalling back to the Race HQ on a bike lent by a helpful marshal, having had to bail out with a calf injury. 

On paper, Richard Hawe’s time of 39:38 does not indicate an exceptional run and was some way outside of his personal best - again, perhaps fuelling the argument that this is not the fastest of courses - but his 60th position in a field that size, as a runner in the MV45 category, would suggest otherwise. In that category itself Richard was 9th out of 68 runners. 

Four minutes passed before the next Harrier finished, with Andrew Johnson (another MV45 contestant) crossing the line in 43:35, giving him 127th overall. 

The ever-improving Lisa Hatchard was the first Exmouth woman to finish and very pleased to come away from the event with a new personal best of 46:35, in 206th place. Just behind her was Carly Miller in 47:02, another personal Best, but by the tightest of margins (1 second); however, Carly did not feel great on the night and came down will illness the day after, so once she is back to full fitness and can find another fast course, a sub 47 minute clocking will be there for the taking.

Phil Bater was our next man across the line, in a fine time of 47:41 in 236th place overall. Phil races very rarely but he proved here that it's quality and not quantity that counts as he scooped himself 4th spot in his MV60 category; a category that is very well contested at this highly competitive race.

Dave Eveleigh would have expected to finish in around 45 minutes but was forced to walk some sections of the last two miles of the race and was apparently looking so bad that a marshal tried hauling him out of the race. However, nothing if not determined, our Dave stuck to his task and finished the race, impressively about half-way down the field (356th) but, frustratingly, almost 10 minutes slower (52:06) than he recorded for the 10km distance in March. You know with Dave though that he will not let this below-par performance deter him from coming back stronger than ever next time. 

Ray Elston was 289th in 49:47 and 5th MV65: a category in which there were 17 finishers. However, Ray is in fact well over 70 and he and all those others (just) able to remember the Second World War surely deserve a category of their own! Mike Keep and Jim Wyatt were also septuagenarians running in the MV65 category. Mike clocked 54:48 in 439th place and Jim 56:06 in 475th place. Hopefully it will only be a matter of time before race organisers cotton onto the fact that these athletes (because they do not walk around, they RUN!), are highly competitive and deserve a category of their own!

The Somerset based Black Death Run is named because of a local historical event (namely, the Black Death wiping out the entire village of Coombe Syndham, where the race starts and finishes), rather than for its harrowing effect on participants, but it is tough enough anyway to warrant the name for that reason too!

Hugh Marsden and Dawn Teed have just returned from a tour of New Zealand but the land of the long white cloud is very conducive to outdoor activities such as running and the pair seem as fit as ever. There were over 300 finishers in the 10 mile cross country race, of which around 90 were female. Hugh was 20th and occupying his usual slot of first MV50, timed at 85:40 for this gruelling and very hilly 10 mile multi-terrain run. Dawn had a strong race too and finished in 127th place overall, 3rd in her FV50 category and 8th woman overall in 1:44:54. Joining Hugh and Dawn was Susan Hill who was 192nd and 29th woman in 1:55:01.

Yet another local event held on the weekend of the 11th / 12th May was the Beer Blazer. The best way to describe this 10k run is to call it a 'mini-Grizzly', as it is organised by Axe Valley - also the Mothership of this epic 20 mile multi-terrain race in March - and it is run over some of the same terrain as the Grizzly too, i.e. pebble beach, insanely steep cliff paths and jacobs ladders, mud and rivers. Perhaps the only thing than does not feature in the 10k race is the infamous bog! Nevertheless, it is a tough, hilly multi-terrain event which attracts those members of the hardcore off-road contingent.... and the Dupain clan!

Once again, our Exmouth Harriers running family were out in force and all had excellent runs. Hannah Bown (or Brown, as she once again appears - INCORRECTLY, I'm sure she'd like it to be reiterated! - in the results), had a superb race to come out as top woman, 3 full minutes clear of the 2nd placed female, in 17th place overall in a time of 47:47 (not forgetting, this is no flat, fast road 10k!) from a field of 94 finishers.

Hannah will have been pleased to get the better of her brother, Chris, on this occasion, who finished as 2nd Dupain and 2nd Harrier, 29th overall, in a fine time of 51:19.

Ben White was extremely close behind, pushing Chris all the way to the line, posting a time of 52:14 for 32nd place overall, whilst his bride-to-be, Emma Dupain, was just slightly adrift of him in 49th place overall and 8th female in 54:32. Not forgetting that Emma also plays hockey to a highly competitive level and so she spreads her talents across two sports whilst also juggling a hectic job as a PE teacher!

Killerton is better known for the weekly 5k parkrun event; however, on May 12th it played host to Relish Running Races series of 5k, 10k and half-marathon races. Following a twisty, turny and insanely hilly course around the grounds and parkland (1200ft of climb over 10k - brutal!), I, Ellie Sutcliffe, opted for the 10k distance, which was run over a tough but beautiful one lap route. I was the lone Harrier on the start line and fought hard around the interesting course to post a time of just over 44 minutes. 3 men shot off at the start but I found myself in a chasing group of myself and 2 other blokes. I managed to ditch one of them but the other stayed on my shoulder to the end. Approaching the finish, he took a wrong turn and almost carried on for a second lap on the half-marathon route, until I sportingly shouted out to correct him and get him back on track.... only for him then to out-kick me in the sprint to the finish line: the sod! So I finished in 5th place overall and 1st female. It was a well organised event with a fantastic atmosphere and hopefully the races will take place again next year - I'd urge all the off-road contingent to give it a go - it's tougher than parkrun but a lovely route, running through bluebell woods and fields of buttercups!

Ellie on one of many steep downhill sections at the Killerton 10k. What goes down....

Joan and Stan Mason meanwhile popped back to the Midlands to complete the Bosworth Half Marathon in just under (1:59:47) and just over (2:07:13) 2 hours respectively. It's great to see Stan back competing after a testing few months on the health and injury front and good to see that he has not lost too much fitness, if this time is anything to go by. Good to have you back Stan.... just in time for the relays season!! :-)

Joan, Stan and friend after the Bosworth Half: where are your vests guys? Tut tut!!

Well done to all the Harriers who raced last week and represented the club so well in such a variety of different events. Good luck to any racing this weekend!

Friday, 3 May 2013

Keep keeps on churning out good performances!

Mike Keep has been very active on the local racing circuit since returning to the region from Africa earlier in the year. On April 28th he was the only Harriers' representative at the Plymouth Half Marathon. The absence of any of Mike's club-mates might be explained in part by the somewhat hefty £31 entry fee; this race now being organised by the GO2 events company, who are also taking over the running of the Great West Run this year. The GWR also costs £31 to enter and these are the most expensive races in Devon. Significantly cheaper (nearer £20) are the races over the same distance in Exeter - the IBR 3-lapper (Feb), Bideford (Mar) and Torbay (Jun). Also, if you are prepared to drive to neighbouring Dorset, the Dorset Doddlers organise a truly fantastic half marathon, the Stur Half, from Sturminster Newton High School, in August. At just £8 a pop to enter, with free cake and a quality finishers' tee-shirt (that comes in both male and female sizes), not to mention the beer tents and catering facilities installed in the field at the school at the finish area, this is perhaps the best value for money half you will find in the west country. But I digress....

Keep had another good run, just cracking the 2 hours barrier in finishing 1508th overall of just over 3000 completing the event. There was no Men over 70 category but Mike was 18th of 56 in the over 60 section so it is tempting to guess he would have placed in the top 3 of any over 70 category. It must be said that race organises need to correct this little bit of trophy injustice. It really is not fair to expect a man of over 70 to compete in a category with others up to more than 10 years younger and there is certainly a demand for an over 70s section, as Exmouth Harriers alone have 4 members actively competing - yes, competing, not just participating - in this age group. Nevertheless, this places him inside the top 40 in the country in his age group for the half-marathon distance this year: a superb achievement. Well done Mike!

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Harriers hammer the hills at Haldon Heartbeat

Following last week’s uber-urban experience at the London Marathon, this week saw members of the Exmouth Harriers return to a spot of local, rural roots running as, on Saturday 27 April, 5 members lined up for the hilly Haldon Heartbeat race. The race starts and finishes by the finisher's post at Exeter Race Course, on the top of Haldon Hill. The route is multi-terrain and includes forest tracks and access roads, heath-land and grassy galloping stretches, totalling a shade over 8 miles. There is about 650ft of total climb involved, with 3 main short, sharp hills and some longer, highly runnable, downhill stretches in-between to allow recovery.  The event, organised by the Haldon Trail Runners, was in the third year of its running this year and it continues to attract a good mix of club and unattached runners seeking out the ever-popular off-road running experience.

This year, London 2012 Olympian and local Exeter Harriers athlete, Jo Pavey, started the runners off and presented the prizes, which added an extra special dimension to the event.

With a recent dry spell, the going underfoot was most definitely good to firm (to coin racing terminology due to the location of the event). There were 164 male finishers and just 29 female this year, with the winning man, Lee Turner of Torbay AC, completing in a time of 49:15 and the first female, Rebecca Mingo of Bere Alston Trekkers, in 35th place overall with a time of 59:25.

Jon Garrity, coming back into some good form just in time for the summer season, was the first Exmouth Harrier to finish, in 58:02, for a fine 24th place overall and 6th man aged 40 - 44: an ever-competitive category. Chris Dupain was 43rd, just over the hour, in 60:46, a very good result for someone who only races occasionally and fits in training around a busy lifestyle. 

Luckily there were plenty of marshalls and no trig points to locate in this particular race, so Scott-2 Trigs-Jordan was in his element. The downhill stretches will have also allowed him to unleash his phenomenally fast downhill running technique and gain some ground on his more cautious rivals. Scott finished in 62nd and 13th man aged 40 - 44 in a time of 63:29.

Ben White would have had Scott well within his sights, crossing the finish line just a few furlongs (sticking with the racecourse theme!) behind in 67th place with a time of 64:02. The only filly in the race, Emma Dupain, was 80th and 7th female overall in a small but select women’s field that represented just 15% of the total number of entrants. Perhaps the thought of 8 miles of hills put all the other ladies off!