The route is mainly flat, with one sizeable hill in the woods at about the 3.5 mile point. The race takes runners along the River Dart and through fields and tracks around the stunning Dartington Estate. Due to the scenery and superb organisation, the race always attracts a large field and this year was no exception, with just short of 500 runners toeing the startline. Slightly damp conditions greeted them there, but that was quite welcome as it kept temperatures down... the spectators wanting to take advantage of the 'festival' atmosphere at race HQ might have felt differently however!
The start of the Totnes 10k at Borough Park, with Hugh Marsden prominent front left.
The race was won in a new course record and sub 35 minute time by Exmouth resident, Tom Merson. But the stand out performance of the day for the Harriers had to come from Marc Cox, who knocked over 2 minutes off his time from the previous year to finish a superb 7th overall in what was a highly competitive field with some top competition stacked around him. His time was 39:07 and that is shifting some on this technical, off-road course that measures in over distance. Well done Marc!
On this occasion, Dave-Sparrow-Legs-Stone had to settle for an unusual 2nd place finish amongst the club contingent but he did, nevertheless, secure the top spot in his MV40 category with yet another fine run in a time of 39:58 for 11th spot overall.
Another veteran of this event and a super-veteran runner for Exmouth is Hugh Marsden. Hugh once again ran a strong race to scoop the top MV50 prize and 24th place overall. His time of 41:06 was 2 minutes up on his time from last year and this will give him a huge confidence boost as he has been suffering with some uncharacteristic injury niggles this season.
Next in was myself, Ellie Sutcliffe. I could not have been more shocked at the outcome of this race as I entered it on the back of injury and with barely any training miles under my belt. Expecting very little of myself, and certainly not expecting to finish in the top 3, I set out at a sensible tempo pace rather than my usual 'go like hell and hang on' strategy. A lady went off fast at the start and I happily let her go but at about 1 mile in, I overtook her and then just kept an even pace to the finish line to claim the first female spot. Even more shockingly, my time of 43:31 was exactly 2 minutes quicker than last year: like Hugh, this was a confidence boost I really needed! Maybe there is something to be said for running a sensible, even-paced race!
Chris Dupain was clearly feeling no after-effects from his mammouth effort of 3 races in 3 days at 'Le Tour d'Exeter' the previous weekend. He was storming ahead on the flat section across the fields but dropped a couple of places in the uphill section in the woods. A strong last 2 miles meant that he stayed inside the top 50 finishers and thus the top 10% of finishers, 49th in 44:19.
Scott-2-Trigs-Jordan, enjoying a fine running season and relishing in the off-road trail races of late, had another superb run to again knock minutes off his time from the 2012 race, in posting 47:03 for 85th spot overall and gathering some valuable points for the male team competition in the process.
He was chased down by Ben White, who crossed the line in 50:31 for 126th spot and Ben was enjoying his last race as a single man before he weds his fiancé and fellow Harrier, Emma Dupain, who was literally chasing him all the way to the line. Emma posted a time of 50:56 for 104th spot overall. The pair are to wed next Saturday and so the Harriers wish them well for the final preparations this week and look forward to sharing in their special day next weekend!
Ladies team captain, Dawn Teed, was next to appear. Before the race she and Ray Elston shared a joke that one day she would manage to beat him... and today was that day! Having a superb run, Dawn crossed the line in 52:41 for 167th spot overall. As usual, the FV50 category was stacked with talented local runners, and so Dawn narrowly missed out on a podium position on this occasion. Not only did Dawn manage to beat her time from the previous year, but this was her fastest time on the course since 2006 (and she's run it every year!). That winter marathon training she did for the Falklands Marathon is still paying dividends!!
Claire Baxter is really back with a bang this summer, following a long lay off period over the winter after an operation on her toe. If anything, it's made her stronger, as she is churning out some superb performances and featuring in team prizes at every outing! Her run of 57:47 for 253rd spot overall enabled myself, Emma and Dawn to join her in securing the 2nd ladies team prize behind a very strong Torbay AC squad. This was Claire's 3rd team prize in as many consecutive outings! She is clearly our lucky mascot... when's your next race Claire? We'll make sure we all sign up!
Father of the bride-to-be, Nigel-Pops-Dupain also had a good outing, finishing comfortably inside the top half of finishers, 182nd place with a 53:52 clocking. Will he indulge himself in a day off racing next weekend in order to give his daughter away, that's the question?!
Perhaps the finest head-to-head battle on the line of the day came from our super-vet MV70 (actually 74!) runner, Ray Elston. Literally sprinting it out with a category rival (who was none other than the Teignbridge Trotter's race director's father!), Ray was just pipped to the post and was forced to settle for the 2nd MV70 prize and 202nd place overall with his outstanding time of 55:08. Not forgetting to highlight that this man is 74! Yes, 74! Could your Dad / Grandad run a sub 1 hour 10k at this age?! Likely not!
The icing on the cake was that our men's team followed the women's lead and also scooped the 2nd team prize behind, yes, you guessed it, Torbay AC, who have won the team contest here for the past 6 years! Next year we need to send a crack team to try and haul ourselves up to the top spot!
By the time all our prizes were assembled, it looked as though we were planning on opening our own off-licence! It was nice that almost every Harrier who ran came away with something. The prize structure here is nothing if not generous and most of us won't need to buy wine or beer for some time to come!!
The Harriers' prize haul: enough booze to open an off-licence!