Wild Running North Devon & Exmoor
On our never-ending quest to seek out the best running this beautiful country has to…
Sim raced the 12km course at the recent Trail Events Co Dartmoor event.
September’s Trail Events Co Dartmoor event appealed to me as it’s around a part of the moor I know well. My training had been going well so I really wanted to test myself and leave everything out on the trail. In the days leading up to the race I’d been visualising where I’d push hard and where I’d try and recover a bit; I had no idea if I’d be racing for a podium place or just racing my own expectations but I knew it would be hard and fun! I’m fast downhill and strong on really steep terrain but always struggle with the just-about runnable uphills, so I had an idea where I could overtake and where I’d probably get overtaken. I was keen to see how it would turn out.
Race day was cool and sunny – perfect running weather. A mix of enthusiasm and normal race day nerves played in my brain as we waited for the start but as always these vanished as we set off. I ran at the front, slightly surprised that no-one went off faster but excited that I’d probably be racing for a position and enjoying the tactics from the go. I stayed in front for the first couple of miles, never looking back but aware that at least a couple of chaps where close behind. In the end it turned out to be a race for the top 3 between two great guys called Joe and James, and myself.
The race starts on a short section of road and then climbs over Hound Tor before descending a steep rocky trail to a stream. Crossing this brings you to the start of the first main hill and James passed me as I started power walking. He didn’t get far ahead before he, too, started walking and I soon caught him again but also got caught by Joe, who I’d chatted to at the start. We ran together along the next ridge and then I left them both on the descent to the valley at Leighon. James caught me again on the long uphill field section beyond and put some distance between us. I almost decided to be happy with second here, but reeled him in on the steeper section up to Hayne Down with Joe close behind.
The three of us reached the road at the bottom of Hayne Down together. Looking back we couldn’t see anyone else and with about two miles of road running back to the finish we all knew it was a race between us; we even briefly chatted about it. We ran together for a mile and a half, each of us pushing but no one really trying to get away, testing each other and also trying to hold some back for the finish. The last half mile is a dip, a few hundred metres downhill and then a punishing uphill to the finish. I felt good and I was absolutely loving being there but also worried about Joe’s long legs and that James had overtaken me on the last two tough uphills. I sped up for the downhill hoping to give myself a gap to fight for on the up and Joe stayed with me but James fell back. It would be first or second then.
I expected Joe to drop me on the climb so I figured I should just go for it. I sprinted up the beginning of the hill and put a few metres between myself and Joe. I couldn’t hold the pace for long and quickly slowed again expecting Joe to reel me in. I decided to give it everything and after a few seconds put in another sprint and then slowed and then sprinted again. Joe didn’t slow down but he didn’t match my sprints either so I finished 7 seconds in front.
It’s such an awesome feeling when you work that hard and it pays off. The whole race was a load of fun because of the sportsmanship and the excitement of racing Joe and James. Cheers guys!
Trail Events Co holds a series of trail running events around the country. Each event typically has a 10km, 1/2 marthon, marathon and ultra. They are well organised and friendly events with a fun atmosphere, great courses and well stocked aid stations. We’re looking forward to racing with them again.