Festival 10k inspires beginners

When Bill Valentine first mooted the idea of a 10k multi terrain run to coincide with the Sidmouth Festival, there was no local running club. In fact it is probably true to say that without this first run in 2002 there would be no Sidmouth Running Club today, writes John Perratt.

Faced, however, with no club structure to support the run Bill was obliged to rely on many local volunteers. FORCE, the Exeter cancer charity, was chosen as the beneficiary of the run and their local chairman John Mullins gathered a team together and the same people have been there for the club every year since. Dint Mullins and Michael Denning have looked after the timing whilst John, Flo Townsend, Ian and Lorna Pirie have marshalled the course up to and down from the top of Peak Hill in whatever conditions the weather has thrown at them.

The late David Keast was similarly involved, persuading a whole host of people to help out also, mostly marshalling on the outer limits of the course but, on that first occasion, asking Rosemary Woodley to help on the admin side, looking after late entries and then recording on the finish line whilst her husband Gerald ran in the race itself. Like the FORCE people she became a permanent fixture in the race organisation. Gerald’s interest, however, was more in cycling and despite his age he was always well up with the leaders either on Dartmoor, the Alps, Corsica or wherever.

Unfortunately, it was on Dartmoor last October that he tangled with a motorcar and a tree and definitely came out third best. The Air Ambulance came to the rescue followed by a seven month spell in hospital.

In consequence this year, with the agreement of all parties including Michelmores, local solicitors, who have generously sponsored the race for the last six years, the club is making a donation to the Devon Air Ambulance Trust of �500. John Mullins was more than happy to go along with the decision but another �100 donation to FORCE was considered appropriate.

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?The Festival run normally gets a few people motivated to take up running with us so to capitalise on this the club is running another Beginners’ Course starting on Wednesday 7 September. It will run for eight weeks, costs �10 and includes membership of the club up until the end of March next year.

Everyone welcome, no one is too slow or too unfit. For further details phone Janet Ackford 01395 516169 or Colin Flood 01395 578436.

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Richard Hedger, Senior Partner in Michelmores, is pictured handing out cheques to John Mullins, Rosemary and Gerald Woodley whilst Bill Valentine and John Perratt from the Running Club look on. Pic: Chris Woodcock.

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