The Castle Drogo 10 miler has been going for 10 years now but it doesn’t get any easier, writes John Perratt.

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Justin Ashby and Milan Goc had both got under 60 minutes over this distance a few weeks ago but there was no way they could get near that time on this course.

Renewing their unspoken rivalry it was Ashby’s turn to take the honours and his time of 1.08.43 was good enough for 13th place overall in a field of nearly 500 runners. Goc was 15th, 50 seconds later.

That is really pushing the pace but, in complete contrast, the rest of the dozen Sidmouth Runners taking part just revelled in the glorious weather and magnificent views as an antidote to aching limbs and bursting lungs. The climb from Fingle Bridge back up to the Castle along the Hunter’s Path is an extraordinary experience. It seems almost vertical for about half a mile and then, as it flattens out, the whole of the Teign Gorge opens up in front of you and, in the distance, a glimpse of the castle lets you know that it is nearly over.

Clair Ashby and Cath Miller epitomise this carefree approach. They run together from start to finish at their own comfortable pace, not caring who is in front or behind them and finish fresh as daisies. The course though is rough underfoot in many places and Trudy Lestor took a nasty tumble just before the big climb. Fortunately George Chalstrey was on hand to get her going again and she finished strongly with a smile. Come to think of it all the girls finished with a smile. Debbie Marriott, Cathy Keast, Becky Robson and Helen Palmer all looked very happy as they crossed the finish line.

The men didn’t look so cheerful especially those cultivating their facial hair for the Movember movement. John Keast’s time of 1.24.15 was more impressive than his Kung Fu tache but poor Don Cawthera was disowned completely for his stylish effort.

Joe Kent, Phil Welsford, Nigel Dupain, John Perratt and Terry Bewes finishing in that order made up the rest of the club’s entry and, like just about everyone else who took part, have all vowed to come back again next year.

In this era of ‘political correctness’ it is sometimes a little surprising to find really odd combinations. The British Masters Athletics Federation has chosen its cross country relay formats to include all the ladies, with ages ranging from 35 onwards, paired with men over the age of 65, writes Chris Woodcock.

Last weekend’s event, hosted admirably by Derby AC, served to highlight some of the idiosyncrasies of this somewhat peculiar pairing. The young ladies on the first leg, most of whom had selected 18mm spikes in view of the underfoot conditions, raced away from the start, leaving the rest of us – mostly older than their parents – to fight it out far behind them.

I found myself engaged in a duel with the eventual winners from Bingley – not much changes – similar scenario 10 years ago! We swapped places half a dozen times and it was just a tad frustrating to be passed, finally, with less than 200m remaining. However, as I was the sole member of the Blackheath team on the day it didn’t make much difference to the final result.

Full results should be available on the BMAF website.

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