Exe-rated runners!

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

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Woodland Relays a resounding success!

The Woodland Relays are a low-key annual event organised on rotation by the 5 participating clubs: Axe Valley, Sidmouth, Honiton, the Met Office and us, the Harriers. Last year Axe Valley hosted a superb event in some woods at Colyton and the Exmouth Harriers who made the trip over there to compete had a fantastic evening of friendly rivalry and good camaraderie with our neighbouring runners. In fact, one Harrier – Mike Musgrove – enjoyed the event so much that he put his name forward to organise this year’s event on behalf of Exmouth.
It was Mike’s first ever attempt at organising a race and even he would not have dreamt that the route he selected – a 2.6 mile figure of 8 loop on Woodbury Common – would be as popular as it was. A record attendance of 52 teams of 3 runners signed up, representing over a 100% increase on the number of teams entered at any of the previously staged events. Luckily the weather was on our side with the sun shining down making the route and the views even more pleasant for runner and spectators alike.

The registration desk was more hectic than expected, with 52 teams all entering on the night!

 There was fierce competition across the different categories which ranged from under 11 boys, girls and mixed (this age group completing just the one smaller loop of 1 mile), under 15 girls, boys and mixed, senior ladies, mens and mixed and over 50 vets ladies, mens and mixed.
Race organiser and director, Mike Musgrove, ensures the eager under 11s are listening to the race briefing!

In the under 11s, held over the 1 mile route, Upottery Boys and Upottery Girls both triumphed, with Sidmouth Juniors taking the spoils (or the chocolate!) in the mixed section. The under 15s gave the grown-ups a serious run for their money over the full course, with Honiton boys placing an impressive 5th place overall out of all the participating age groups, in an accumulative time of 50:34. Honiton girls also won the under 15s section, proving that whatever coaching the juniors are receiving over at Honiton, it is obviously working wonders! They finished in just over the hour in 1:00:31.
The youngsters really got enthusiastically stuck into the spirit of the event and produced some very impressive times showing that we have some potential future stars in our midst!

In the senior races, Axe Valley proved too strong for all their rivals, with their men’s team of Gary Perratt, Tim Lenton and Liam Roberts storming around to a win in an amazingly swift 45:32. Liam also ran the fastest male leg of the evening. Axe Valley also won the senior ladies race, further proving the club’s dominance when it comes to off-road events, with Amy Greenhalgh, Eleanor Wood and Carol Austin taking 57:45 to cover the three 2.6 mile legs. The senior mixed prize went to a team from the Met Office, in a time of 52:54.

The 'B' wave runners gather at the start / finish / change-over area, eagerly awaiting their team mates so they can get underway on their leg.

The vets races were just as highly contested and were dominated by Exmouth Harriers! Our vet 50 men’s team of David Wright, Andy Kernnedy and Hugh Marsden won the men’s section and placed 10th overall in a time of 55:00, with Dave Wright just edging out category rival Hugh for the fastest leg (17:29). Our vet women were not about to be upstaged by the men and put in an equally fine performance to take top spot in their category, with Cathy Newman, Claire Baxter and Susan Hill triumphing in 27th spot overall in a time of 1:02:35. Cathy also ran the fastest female leg of the night outright with a superb time of 17:11, beating the next female (Amy Greenhalgh of AVR) by over half a minute. The vet 50 mixed prize went to Honiton 39ers (so called as that was the bib number they were allocated and when pushed for time, they were unable to come up with another, more distinguishing name!).
 Many other Harriers participated and performed well: Jon Garrity, Adam Miller and Marc Cox came 3rd in the senior men’s race in a time of 48:02, with Adam just edging out Marc for the fastest leg by 5 seconds! The Exmouth Men’s B team of Chris Dupain, Scott-2-Trigs-Jordan and Richard-Have-A-Go-Hawes placed a superb 6thoverall in a time of 52:14.

A very determined 2 Trigs (a.k.a. Scott Jordan) digs in up the final hill to the finish.

Our senior ladies team placed a highly respectable 2nd in their category, with Carly Miller having a stormer on the first leg to set things up nicely for Lisa Hatchard and Hannah Bown to ably finish off. Their overall time was 58:26. Another senior ladies team, composed of Jane Macdonald, Nicky Kelly and Lorraine Gilson placed 5th in their category and 32nd overall in a time of 65 minutes.
The event was well supported by the Exmouth Running Belles – many of whom are also members of the Exmouth Harriers – as they fielded 4 teams and they all finished consecutively, occupying 40th - 43rd positions overall.
After slogging it out around a stunning but physically challenging pebbly and sandy route around the Common, all the runners could treat themselves to some wonderful homemade cakes, with Nic Musgrove being the most popular person at the event, selling the most amazing chocolate cake ever for the bargain price of £1. With all money taken from this event going to the charity Whizz Kidz – a cause dear to the organisers’ (Mike and Nic’s) hearts – it was great to see the event so well supported and to see the cakes being snapped up!
The superb array of home-made cakes were a welcome bonus for hungry runners (and marshalls!) and with the added bonus of knowing that buying one would be donating money to Whizz Kidz, they were also guilt free :-)

Mike says that he’s learnt a few things about organising races, having been thrown in at the deep end! We’d like to thank the other participating clubs for their support, including Sidmouth for the loan of their timing equipment and AVR for supplying the bib numbers and for generally supporting Mike with the organisation. Thanks also to the Harriers who marshalled or assisted in some way with the running of the event. 
Mostly though, as a club, we’d like to thank Mike for putting together such a great little event. The feedback from all the runners has been extremely positive and I think the smiles on the faces of the runners (particularly the kids, who were buzzing and talking about the event for ages after) speaks volumes. What a shame we have to wait a whole year until the next one!

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