Honiton Running Club seemed to take over the community college in Minehead when its two full mini buses arrived last Sunday transporting 31 runners for the Exmoor Stagger and Stumble, writes Judy Davey.

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Both races provide a challenging off-road course using the steep and varied terrain of the moor and both usually boast breathtaking views. Unfortunately, although the weather was pretty good for running, it was very foggy. The distance of the Stagger is 16 miles with total ascent of 3627 ft. Although the Stumble is only seven miles, this is a race not to be taken lightly as it too has tough climbs and descents.

Ian Stewart led Honiton home in style finishing in 14th place in 2.14hours. Graham Reeves much prefers road running but he still managed to lead the next six Honiton runners home within five minutes of each other. Steve Davey knocked over eight minutes of last year’s time and managed to win a trophy for coming third in his age category. Heather Foundling-Hawker was third lady overall. Fran Bond completed this group winning 2nd in her category. Dennis Costello was tackling this distance for the first time since this year’s London Marathon and John Burgess had upgraded from the Stumble to the Stagger on a whim when he was registering regretting it as soon as he had passed the split for the two races. Tracey Strawbridge and Wendy Le Masurier decided some time ago that they would bravely tackle the Stagger and becoming resigned to the commitment, they actually quite enjoyed it.

Full Honiton results: 14, Ian Stewart 2:14, 31, Graham Reeves 2:28, 34, Steve Davey 2:29, 37, Richard Harvey 2:30, 41, Bruce Strawbridge 2:31, 43, Heather Foundling-Hawker 2:31, 45, Fran Bond 2:33, 86, Stephen Boyes 2:48, 90, Howard Bidmead 2:52, 143, Dennis Costello 3:14, 151, John Burgess 3:18, Tracey Strawbridge and Wendy Le Masurier 4:06. There were about 185 runners.

In the Stumble Rod Inglis led Honiton home coming 10th in 58:03. Roger Saunders has been nursing a bad cold and although he began with a Stagger entry he took the opportunity of changing to the Stumble at the split point. Judy Davey was also entered for the Stagger but sustained a calf injury just before the split and she also took the sensible option of taking the Stumble route. It wasn’t long before she was overtaken by Roger and then Mark Andow much to Mark’s delight until he realised Judy was hobbling. His lead didn’t last long before he managed to turn his ankle which forced him to walk. Judy caught him up only for them both to be overtaken by an even more delighted Nick Thorpe. Although Judy was disappointed she still managed to win her age category which softened the blow. Sandra Thorpe had a good run following a period of injury and it was great to see Alan Nichols take part in the outing after moving to Wales. It was great to see Val Hales running for the first time in a Honiton top smiling as she finished as always. Ian Jeeves coaxed Maggie Dillon along the route to complete the Honiton line up.

Honiton Stumble results: 10th Rod Inglis 58:03, 28th Roger Saunders 1:05, 31st Nick Thorpe 1:07, 32nd Mark Andow 1:07, 33rd Judy Davey 1:07, 45th Nick Bradley-Carter 1:09, 53rd Olivia Higginson 1:12, 58th Sandra Thorpe 1:13, 60th Alan Nichols 1:14, 64th Sam Shute 1:15, 65th Clare Melbourne 1:15, 68th Jo Davey 1:18, 73rd Jennie Sleeman 1:20, 80th Venetia Topham 1:23, 82nd Liz Corney 1:24, 95th Val Hales 1:30, 98th Maggie Dillon & Ian Jeeves 1:42. There were just over 100 runners.

Having worked up a cracking appetite, the Honiton runners treated themselves to slices of cake at the College before stopping off on the way back for a very enjoyable pub meal. Thanks to the organizers of the races and marshals but special thanks to Bruce for organizing the trip.

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