On Saturday 26th April was the 4th running of the Haldon Heartbeat 8.5 mile trail race. Organised by the Haldon Trail Runners, this off-road event starts and finishes at Exeter Race course, on the top of Haldon Hill, and sees runners tackle some of the finest off-road running that the forest has to offer, with plenty of mud and a lot of hills thrown in too.
There were 4 representatives from the Exmouth Harriers on the startline, of which 3 were ladies, but, unfortunately, that left us one short to close in a team to wage our attack on the ladies' team prize. Nonetheless, all 4 of us had good runs with a little bit of individual glory thrown in.
I, Ellie Sutcliffe, was the first Harrier home. In my first proper race back since injury, I took this one extremely cautiously, as the last time I ran over 6.5 miles, let alone 8.5, was way back in January. The conservative start paid off as I was able to make my way through the field once I knew that my calf was behaving itself and slowly clawed my way up to 18th place overall and 3rd female, finishing just 1 place and 20 seconds behind 2nd in 60:13, though some way off the time of 56 minutes I ran in my first year of running in 2011: a reminder of how much fitness I've lost these past few months!
Next in, just a few places behind me in 25th, was Jon Croome. Great to see Jon well and truly over his injury of last year and enjoying his off-road running again. His time of 62:07 shows his fitness is almost back to where it was too.
The run of the day, however, came from Jane Macdonald. Jane ran a perfectly paced, strong race and finished in a time of 70:11 in 69th place overall. However, she took the top spot in the women aged 45 category: this is her second categroy win, following her first at the tough Haytor Heller race last summer. Jane clearly has a talent for these tough, hilly off-road races and her improving performances are just reward for all the hard work she's put in in training since joining the Harriers last year. Well done!
Jane's win unfortunately came at the expense of a victory for Lorraine Croome, who also runs in the FV45 category and narrowly missed out on the win, having to content herself with 2nd place on this occasion. Nevertheless, Lorraine still had a good run and posted a solid time of 70:43 for 72nd spot overall.
An unusual purple technical tee-shirt was the reward for the 197 runners who completed this race, and what a joy to have a selection of extra small shirts so us more petite ladies can actually wear it for a change and not have to use it as a nighty!