Once in a lifetime experience

Three Honiton runners decided to participate in a once-in-a-lifetime experience to run through the brand new London Olympic Park and finish in the new Olympic Stadium, writes Judy Davey.

The Olympic Park Run was organised by the National Lottery as a tester event for the games and 5,000 runners were selected to take part. Princess Beatrice (running herself) got the five-mile race under way and the runners then looped round most of the venues in the park though some were still in the final stages of construction.

Entering the stadium in the final mile involved running in a subterranean service tunnel for half a mile before emerging into the stadium with 10,000 spectators cheering, which was an inspiring experience. Julian Gigg finished in 384th with a time of 34.03 minutes for the five miles and closely followed by Roger Saunders in 743rd at 36:22. Greg Axsel was taking lots of photos around the course so had a more leisurely run finishing at 42:51 as the 2,352nd runner to finish. Roger and Julian found themselves rubbing shoulders with the likes of Sally Gunnell and Steve Backley at the finish.

The event no doubt tested out things and on arrival there was a huge queue through Westfield Shopping Centre to get through the airport-style security but it moved fairly swiftly. Roll on July when the elite runners get into action there!

?Six Honiton RC members took part in the Taunton Half Marathon posting great times. First back was Vernon Gillard in 1.37 hours followed by Nick Bradley-Carter in 1:40. Olivia Higginson had a great run finishing in 1:47 and next back was John Burgess who was having a good run until his legs cramped up at 11 miles. His target was 1:55 but he just missed this to finish in 1:56. Nevertheless, John was pleased as this is the longest distance he has run for 18 months. Clare Melbourne was delighted with her time of 1:57. These times meant pbs for Nick, Olivia and Clare. Helen Davy also took part but she was running with a friend and finished in 2:13. Wayne Spiller bravely took on the two lap challenge to run the full marathon, in 4.18. The two races start at the same time so the second lap does get a bit lonely.

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?Four other Honiton runners took on the huge challenge of Sidmouth Running Club’s Exe to Axe which starts at Exmouth and follows the coastal path all the way to Seaton. The route is all but 21 miles and took runners through Budleigh Salterton, Sidmouth, Weston beach, Branscombe and Beer. The race boasts over 4,000 feet of climb (more than the Grizzly). Bruce Strawbridge finished in 26th place in 3.28 with Steve 32nd in 3:30. Judy Davey was next back, third lady, 44th overall in 3:39. Howard Bidmead, took it fairly easy to finish in 90th place in 4:32. There were 101 finishers and Tom Merson won the race in an incredible 2:26.

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