Matt’s new course record

MORE than 200 runners entered the Sidmouth Festival run this year - competitors from all over the country.

But what really made my husband smile were the Welsh runners. He advised them where all the cychwyn, toiledau’s, dwfr and teisen were ... only to find out they were from Newport and didn’t speak a word of the language!

We started off with a blast on a vuvuzela and headed up towards Muttersmoor Car Park, through the moor, past the ninth green - where the golfers looked glad they had taken up their sport rather than ours! There were two water stations en route, manned at Muttersmoor by sisters Karen Furzey and Sue Rathbone andhalfway round by Chris Long, Jane and David Skinner.

My husband, Chri,s and our twin boys Freddie and Charlie, with their friend Jed Robson, helped at the start/finish dishing out water and cake to all finishers. Steve and Samantha Nicholls helped at another table giving out the ‘Golden Boot’.

Matt Szala, aka “The Arrow”, made his Sidmouth teammates proud as not only first man and first Sidmouth runner, but with a time of 38.25 he set a new course record. This is the sheer determination and training of a great athlete.

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Laurence Bolam, a welcome new member to the club, showed his pace and finished just ahead of the experienced Graham Hill, who, with young Guy Bennett, completed our men’s team that came second to a very strong team from South West Road Runners.

The first Sidmouth lady home was Di Puzey, coming in behind Jon Hanson, but ahead of Mark Keast and David Palmer. She took home two trophies for the top lady in her age group and first local lady. Among that lot was also David Salt, who decided to run it this year rather than act as a marshal as he has in the past. Iain Burns, had picked up an injury during the week but still ran well and then Paul Mitchell and Andy Shearer battled it out to the finish with only seconds between them. Next home were Bruce Odlin and Ian Robson with George Chalstrey and myself a bit further back. He was my personal trainer all the way round, not letting me stop, not even up those ‘horrible’ bits. He wasn’t even puffing … can’t say the same for me and he had already run round the course early in the morning checking it out! FolkWeek certainly hadn’t ended as Colin Flood ran in his Morris Dancing disguise. George and I could hear his jingling bells, most of the way round.

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Our second lady home was Lynda Hawkins, looking as always as if she’d just come out of the beauty salon, just beating Brian Gosling, by seconds, with wife Sheila, once again, cheering all us runners on.

Zak Francis, in his first 10k, was not far behind them, closely, followed by Debbie Marriot and Don Cawthera who finished together in just over the hour. Then we saw Helen Palmer and, hot on her heels, Sarah Watkins. Becky Robson, after a house move and several house warming parties still managed to finish in great form. Then Chris Robinson and Lesley Hook came in together.

Louise Brown was supported by all her family - three daughters, granddaughter and grandson all shouting her through the finish line. Richard Hedger followed close behind her. Even falling into brambles Debbie Bennett, came in with full smiles all round and Anne Langworthy and Sue Cunningham finished strongly together.

With generous sponsorship from Michelmore’s of Sidmouth every finisher was given a ‘Golden Boot’ and a piece of Festival cake, made by Jean Baker, from Sidbury. Another cake was made for Bill Valentine’s birthday, although he missed the prize-giving because he ran as back marker with Corinna Stephens, and they were still clearing the course at the time.

It was a good event, aided by gorgeous weather and to all who helped on the day, anyone I haven’t mentioned, thank you.

I took 26 entries from children, some even as young as 3 for the fun run. With Jane Beech and her daughters judging at the top of the grassy slope to the first gate, which is where they had to run, some mums ran with their children, but most chose the sensible option ‘not to’. All children were presented with a ‘winners’ medal and a bag of sweets. Some, realising there were more sweets than runners, regularly returned for more! Among the entries were local girls and boys, my twins, Freddie and Charlie, their friends, Alfie and Harry Nicholls, Izzy Brown, Jed Robson, Joe and Matthew Burren, and more from further afield. Nevertheless they all had a great time and got to take part in the spirit of things.

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