The 2019 East Devon Round proves to be a huge hit
- Credit: Archant
The 2019 East Devon Round proved to be a huge success, writes Alasdair Moffett.
Over five years, a circular route of East Devon encompassing many of Honiton RC's favourite trails, views, and villages were squeezed into one loop.
Only with the kind permission of private landowners, including East Devon Council and Seaton Wetlands, has such an event been possible. It
The aim was to showcase the very best of the area we are lucky to live in, whilst also being a never-done-before incredible challenge of 62 miles and 8,000 feet of climbing.
The East Devon Round was generously supported with prizes from local food and drink producers the route passes - be it Sutton Lucy dairy, Otter Dairy Ice Cream, Otter Brewery, Dalwood Vineyard, Haughty Culture florists, Toast patisserie and cafe and the Holt bar and restaurant in Honiton.
Offwell Village Hall was the event HQ, with camping on site for the weekend, with competitors receiving a pre-race meal served up by Rod & Ben's on the Friday night.
Throughout the run, nine aid stations provided the calories to fuel the athletes, with 38 bunches of bananas, 48 bottles of coke, 3kgs of flapjack, 160 jam wraps, 10kgs of Haribo as well as mountains of dried fruit and nuts courtesy of Ganesha Wholefoods being consumed throughout the day.
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The route traverses wild garlic lined river paths, climbs past Dalwood vineyard on the way up Danes Hill and visits the sea at Lyme Regis and Axmouth harbour, with the 'Undercliffs' section of coast path between - affectionately named 'the Jungle' by some, where lush green vegetation, tree roots and countless steps await.
Utilising the best of two Areas Of Natural Beauty (AONB), the route passes two Iron Age Forts, with Blackbury Camp a wall of bright bluebells, and Dumpdon Hill high above the Otter Valley, also carpeted in bluebells, offering views of Dartmoor (and the setting sun by the time most competitors reach it.)
High above Luppitt, the runners weaved along the ridge path of Hartridge Common, and within a few miles of home, the runners scrambled the oak lined green lane and steep fields of Old Rectory Farm, to take them high above Honiton once more.
Ducking and diving through ancient woodland, complete with wild orchids, wild garlic, pink campion, and descending flint strewn paths, the runners reached many secluded spots not often visited, with one competitor describing it as being in the midst of a Lord of the Rings film set. Throughout the event, the runners were tracked using GPS devices courtesy of Tracace race tracking, allowing supporters and event HQ to see the whereabouts of all runners at all times.
In total 46 runners started the route, with six taking on the half round (an ultramarathon in its own right at 31 miles), and 40 the full round. Checkpoint five (Kindly supplied by the Selway Family) at Southleigh was the finishing point for the half, and it was Lucy Macalister who had led the whole field the entire way, who finished in a hard-to-beat time of five hours and 14 minutes.
Considering Lucy's past as a national grade runner, Jess Raynor did incredibly well to finish only 12 minutes behind.
Kudos to Jess.
Both Jess and Lucy had acted as early pacemakers for the full round competitors, with Tristan Stephenson only momentarily not in front of the pack when taking a minor detour before Checkpoint Two.
By the time Tristan had appeared from the notoriously tough 'Undercliff' section he was well in the lead, relieved to be informed the other two runners were only competing in the half round.
From then on, he cemented his position, eventually winning in a time of 12 hours and 21 minutes, having been surprised at Checkpoint Seven, the Otter Inn in Weston to have three of his five brothers join him in running the tough remaining 30km loop of the Blackdown hills.
Thirty-six minutes later Lee Herbert crossed the line, only five minutes ahead of third placed Honiton Running Club's very own Adam Hennessey. Fourth and fifth place were only separated by a sprint finish courtesy of Duncan Taylor, impressive after 62 miles of running!
In the ladies, Lisa Hatchard was buoyed by running with Mike Hoskin for the day, and looked shattered but elated to realise she had won first place. Look out for Lisa next year as she is already booked in for marshalling duties for 2020.
An amazing team of 35 marshals helped the runners throughout the day, with the earliest marshals on hand to help at 5am, and the latest marshals only getting home at 4am Sunday morning.
Without them, this event couldn't happen, and the competitors were blown away with the support, and enthusiasm from the whole event team.
Thanks to the help of all the local businesses, as well as the Ultramarathon Running Store, the event helped raise money for both the Combe Raleigh Little Critters playgroup, who operated a pop up Tea shop for the event and Offwell Primary School, who cooked a cracking Sunday morning breakfast, and had a whole squad of masseuses on hand for sore legs at the end.
For the full results visit www.eastdevonround.com