Run of the Month: East Devon Heathlands
East of Exeter, the landscape of Devon is a glorious mixture of rolling green hills;…
The rock-strewn single-track coast path demands all my attention as it winds around craggy headlands and along narrow sections with a sheer drop into the waves below; it’s early on in the race and it’s fast and furious – but I’m loving every minute.
Last weekend’s South Devon coastal half marathon is organised by Endurancelife; in fact it was their first event back in 2005 (Jen ran the marathon) and it’s become a bit of a classic. It’s now part of their excellent Coastal Trail Series, with distances of 10km, half marathon, full marathon or ultra. The races have staggered starts so that everyone finishes at about the same time creating a great atmosphere at race HQ. We’ve done many Endurancelife races over the years and we are always impressed with the friendly staff and relaxed but organised atmosphere; the weather’s always good too.
The whole route is within Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and is simultaneously picturesque and punishing. The first half follows the South West Coast Path around Start Point, the most southerly tip of Devon. The running here is brilliant – technical and exciting – and the scenery’s stunning. For the second half the route heads inland on a mixture of hilly lanes, muddy farm tracks and footpaths; it’s much easier underfoot but much hillier and at this point I definitely paid for my over enthusiastic start. One of my favorite sections is the mad final descent back to the finish, down a ridiculously steep hill, sharp left (if you can make the turn) and then windmill arms to the finish.
Interestingly I was kit checked at the end of the race, the first time this has ever happened to me, but I welcomed the chance to chat about gear… I carried a Montane Featherlite Trail windproof jacket, a 500ml soft flask of water and an Ella’s Kitchen fruit pouch in my brilliant Montane Via Bite waistpack. I wore the Scott Supertrac RC shoes which proved a good choice, gripping well in the mud but offering good protection on the road sections.
Thanks to Endurancelife for both photos and an awesome race!
Next years event will be on the 3rd Feb 2018