Wallowing in the Hippo mud

PUBLISHED: 10:00 22 April 2009 | UPDATED: 23:24 15 June 2010

The muddy crossings

The muddy crossings

Copyright Archant Ltd

Sunday morning saw the first running of the long-awaited Honiton Running Club Hippo and Hippo Calf multi-terrain races.

Sunday morning saw the first running of the long-awaited Honiton Running Club Hippo and Hippo Calf multi-terrain races. Race Manager Nick Thorpe and his band of helpers had risen early to prepare the course and the glorious spring day ensured a treat for the runners. The main race of 7.5 miles got under way with the 127 starters streaming down Clapper Lane towards Combe Wood. A swift circumnavigation of the wood was followed by a stiff climb through Combe Raleigh to the bottom of St Cyre's Hill. The climb continued through the dappled shade of the woods and scent of bluebells to emerge at the top of the hill before a sharp drop on the road towards Awliscombe. After a half mile the runners were turned uphill again to climb to the top of the "Landrover Experience" course and the zig-zag down the hill and through two Hippo wallows which were extremely stirred up by the time the last runners went through. The runners traversed the hillside and made towards Tracey Mill where they forded the river Otter, ran across the fields towards Combe Raleigh then down the road towards Honiton and the finish. The organisers had one more trick up their sleeves with another river crossing and a stiff short climb to the finish where free cakes and tea awaited the weary runners. Two runners battled for the lead from the gun with James Belward of South West Road Runners and James Denne of home club Honiton setting a good seven-minute mile pace to the top of St Cyre's where Belward had a few seconds lead. He managed to stretch the lead slightly but the result was in the balance until the finish when he crossed the line in 47.58 to narrowly beat the Honiton man by 15 seconds. Both were over two minutes clear of third placed Gareth Hurst of SWRR. In the ladies' race Emma Hitchins of SWRR got away from the pack early and consolidated her lead throughout the race finishing 10th overall in 54.38. Rachel Heard of Taunton finished second in 58.30 Felicity Elliott of SWRR third in 61.47.Despite organising the race Honiton had a good number of runners competing. James Denne led the pack in 2nd with Milan Goc finishing 13th in 56.14. Paul Davey and Guy Paddon, recovered from their three marathon challenge, were next in 24th and 30th with 59.16 and 61.32. Julian Gigg in 36th was pushed all the way by Steve Davey in 37th with 62.23 and 62.44. First Honiton lady Ceri Oak was next home in fifth overall with an excellent time of 64.06. Bruce Strawbridge was 45th with 64.54 just two seconds in front of young Thomas Dunn. Honiton runners: 62 Greg Axsel 68.40; 74 Pippa Westall 73.22; 77 Sarah Warren 74.50; 96 Brent Dicks 79.30; 97 Dennis Costello 79.56; 102 Lin Pike 83.36; 105 Pete Lyus 85.15; 108 Vanessa Glyn Jones 88.01; 110 Klara Bodfish 88.58; 117 Wayne Spiller 93.48; 123 Blanka Obornik 101.37.Thanks go to all helpers, sponsors and organisers without whom the race would have been impossible to organise. Honiton RC is again organising a course of one hour sessions to get runners fit for the Race 4 Life charity runs. The eight week course starts on Monday, May 11, at 6pm at Honiton sports centre where registration will be held. For more information email race4lsec@honitonrc.com or contact club secretary Alan Nicholls on (01823) 601298.What is life without a challenge? Unlike many good resolutions, this one had strengthened in proportion to its removal in time from the local coastal running that inspired it. Axe Valley RunnersThe Channel Island of Guernsey hosts a running festival of four races over four days over mostly coastal routes. Although recent injuries and illness had affected training for both, Welsh runners Richard Hale and Paul Johns were up for the challenge. They arrived on Good Friday after a 7.10am flight. Unaffected by jet lag after the 25 minute long haul flight from Exeter the Welsh Duo made their way to the north west part of the island for a dry and sunny 10k race along the coastal roads. There were 188 finishers and Richard finished 85th in 43.48, with Paul close behind in 90th spot with 44.21. Saturday's event was an undulating 4.75 mile Cross Country Race at L'Ancress Common, run on hard, uneven, grass and stony trails. One scenic winding mile was sandwiched between a golf course and sunlit sands. Both runners did well with Richard 68th in 34.48 and Paul 77th in 36.30. It was a return to the same area on Sunday for a 4x2 mile cross country relay. Two runners from another club joined Richard and Paul to make a composite team for a mix of grass trails and cinder paths. Richard finished in 13.57 to hand over to Paul on the second leg. Paul finished in 14.15. As preparation for Monday's Half Marathon the Welsh duo used time between races to quench their thirst after long coastal walks and visits to the local islands. Guernsey's St Peterport harbour was the venue for the final race in the series. In perfect sunny and warm running weather Paul set a new PB of 1.38.31 and was in 74th place. Richard had just beaten him to the line, however, with 1.37.25, 71st. Final race positions were calculated from all race results and Richard was pleased with his final placing of 40th and third in age category. Paul gained valuable position points with his PB and finished 41st overall. Sunday was a perfect morning for the first running of the Honiton Hippo - see Honiton RC report. Luke Reed continued to find good form and was first AVR home, sixth overall in 53.07. Bernard Fry was next and the first super vet, 14th in 57.02, Bernard had a few problems negotiating the river crossings, finding himself fully submerged on two occasions. Chris Keefe was happy get back on the multi-terrain and had a great race, finishing 22nd in 59.00. Eleanor Wood had an interesting but enjoyable time, finishing 42nd in 1.04.20 and first Female super vet. Eleanor also had trouble negotiating one of the water crossings, coming across the finish line looking very wet and muddy! The AVR's in attendance would like to thank Honiton RC for organising an excellent new event.

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