Mighty Greens take on - and complete - the Dark Woods night race

The Sidmouth Running Club quartet who took on the Dark Woods event. Picture SIDMOUTH RUNNING CLUB

The Sidmouth Running Club quartet who took on the Dark Woods event. Picture SIDMOUTH RUNNING CLUB - Credit: Archant

The long and winding road played on the car radio as we left Sidmouth on a dreary and wet Saturday afternoon heading some 40 miles toward Watchet to run the Dark Woods night race, and long and winding it certainly was, writes Terry Bewes.

Beccy McDonald had the written directions and Nikita Kay used the satnav on her phone which worked well until the other side of Taunton where the signal was very intermittent and then was lost altogether!

The Great Wood is the Quantock Forest; a mix of broad leafed woods and conifer plantations that cover several hills and valleys. This was a race that none of us had done before and talking to some who had at the recent Nightjar race, it was going to be a tough one with two big hills.

The event is organised by Flying Fox Running and such is the popularity of their races that 342 competitors turned up on a cold wet night to run the various distances.

On entering the wood, it is about a mile up a stoney road to the car park and race HQ. Heading up there, we noticed arrow markers and we soon realised that we would be running down here later.

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Arriving in plenty of time we parked near the start so were able to sit in the car, watch the rain and wait with some anticipation as to what we had let ourselves in for. We could hear the race briefing and watch the first batch of 6km and 8.5-mile runners set off before venturing out ourselves into the rain to take on the 6 miles.

The race is set in a figure of eight and from the start Beccy and Kyle set off together whilst I (Terry Bewes) ran with Nikita for a short while before she too was gone. The first loop of about two miles, after the drop from the start-line, is a gradual climb back past the start and then the mile run down the drive where the marshal tells you as you turn left 'beware of the slope'.

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The slope was the first hill, a one mile uphill climb with an elevation gain of 500 feet to the water station, but it was runnable with fairy steps in places. After refuelling, there was a quieter section before the second hill which was shorter, but had a much steeper incline, making it un-runnable and the mud made it barely walkable.

We were now on top of the ridge and in the clouds. This made for some very interesting running with the head torches through the mud and stones, but at least it was fairly flat before a short and nasty steep downhill run. We then ran over loose stones to enter the final mile downhill for a sprint to the finish.

Nikita has only recently joined the club after completing the couch to 5km programme and this was her first six mile run in the dark over a course she did not know, so great respect to her.

She would have beaten me. However, with two miles to go I caught up with her. She had lost her shoe in the mud! Being the gentleman, I stopped to pull it out. Being the competitor, I left her to put it back on whilst I ran on!

At the finish we received our amazing medals and tucked into the food and drink laid out for us. It was well worth the drive, an excellent race superbly organised by Nathan and Pippa of Flying Fox Running along with their team.

As for the first Mighty Green home - that was Kyle Baker, 23rd, in 59:27. Next was Beccy McDonald, 8th overall female and 33rd in 1:05:54.

Next was Terry Bewes in 1:14:53 giving him seconnd in age group, followed by Nikita Kay and her very muddy shoe in 1:16:48. Next up for me will be the Nine Springs by Night which is set for January 18, 2020.

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