Mighty Green ‘fab four’ complete the Four Trigs Challenge

Sidmouth Running Club member Simon Hollyer with his new 'running buddy'. Picture SRC

Sidmouth Running Club member Simon Hollyer with his new 'running buddy'. Picture SRC - Credit: Archant

Around a year ago, Mighty Green member Simon Hollyer along with a dozen others from his village formed the informal, West Hill Running Club, writes Hamish Spence.

They embarked on a distance run from Seaton to Exmouth along the East Devon Way.

It was so successful that it was decided that they would try and do something similar annually.

Fast forward to this year and we find ourselves in ‘Lockdown’ and disappointingly, were forced to cancel the event in its original format.

However, with the news that the rules were to be relaxed some of the members started planning.

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Simon dismissed the idea as his running had tailed off with low and diminishing energy levels blighting him along with his moral as he was missing the regular SRC club runs.

He received a message from Mike Garrish asking him whether or not he wanted to join in with the run the next morning!

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His initial thought was absolutely no way, having only ran once during the previous month (almost three weeks previous).

Plus knowing that he was struggling to start again and feeling a bit down, Simon decided to just go for it... after all, what’s the worst thing that could happen?

He checked that his wife would be able to pick him up when he would inevitably give up and it was decided that Simon would make an attempt to join the others in this ambitious jaunt.

The route was to follow the gruelling Four Trigs route around Sidmouth, but setting off from his home village. There were four members of the team and they split into two pairs, (in keeping with the new lockdown rules).

One pair would run clockwise and the other anti-clockwise.

Not being a keen ‘up with the larks’ type, Simon successfully negotiated an ‘un-odly’ 7.30am start time for himself and running buddy Mike.

The other two, Andy and Will, set off at the very anti-social time of 6am.

They all got away at their respective times under a cool, cloudy sky and fortunately for all, they live on a hill so the first few miles were all downhill to the River Otter.

Here they continued along the meandering river to join the Four Trigs route at Harpford Woods.

At this point the two groups at their respective arrival times went in opposite directions, (Simon and Mike hang-a-left over the river with Andy and Will heading further on downstream).

They had decided from the off to walk up all the hills and just enjoy the day. Andy and Will were doing well and sent updates and photos of themselves at the trig points. The pair had already bagged Higher Peak Hill before Simon and Mike had started!

The unofficial West Hill Running Clubs’s emblem is a donkey sporting a legionnaire’s cap, so an opportunity to send back a photo from the donkey field leading up to Fire Beacon presented itself.

Being and old Luddite, Simon doesn’t do selfies, but this was the occasion to start moving with the times.

Faffing about with his phone, Simon wasn’t aware of the Ninja donkey that crept up quietly behind him! Simon felt a nuzzling – someone needs to talk to this donkey about social distancing!

Onwards and upwards onto the Fire Beacon and Buckton trigs still feeling good and then another photo arrived showing Andy and Will had made it to Weston trig.

Where would they overlap? The sun was now out and it was getting hot.

Simon and Mike made it to Weston Trig without meeting the other pair, but seeing the sea for the first time in two months was a real treat.

This was halfway, and both were still feeling good, but both runners knew the rollercoaster Jurassic Coastal Path would take its toll on their legs.

Fortunately, there were very few people about and no one witnessed the slow walk up to the Frog Stone.

Andy and Will’s photos of the last two trigs came through…..and they had already made it back home.

A glorious view from High Peak Trig was very welcome and most of the climbing was completed.

On Mutters Moor, Simon finally began to suffer and wasn’t just walking the up the hills.

Wanting to at least complete the Four Trigs, he pushed himself back to Harpford and then towards Newton Pop where he could get a lift back from his wife who was there for a walk. Simon had gone much further than expected and there was only three miles left. Mike encouraged him onwards through to a tough final leg. After seven hours the pair were back, feeling exhausted and elated.

With just one thing left to do other than crack open the beers, the routes and times were checked on Strava.

It was discovered that the two pairs were only 50m apart at Buckton Trig.

There is a section through private land that is only open for the real race and only two alternative routes available for the public!

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