Sidmouth RCs Kirsteen Welch sets new ‘best time’ in 2019 JP’s Exe to Axe run
PUBLISHED: 14:02 11 April 2019 | UPDATED: 14:02 11 April 2019
The JP’s Exe to Axe is a grade B fell race and has been described by Runners World as ‘a brute of a race with outstanding views’, writes Hamish Spence.
The route follows the coastal path and offers the runners a little under twenty-two miles of the beautiful Jurassic Coastline, an AONB. It is a very tough route with approximately 3,800 ft of elevation gain.
The 17th annual Exe to Axe was planned over the past 12 months by race director David Lee, race officer Rob Edwards and past race director Paul Mitchell.
The race headquarters was, as usual, at Exmouth Life Saving Club.
Two 70-seater coaches arrived, having transported runners from Seaton (the finish) to the start line at Foxes Hole car park in Exmouth.
JP’s Exe to Axe has a six-hour completion time, so to help slower runners an early start is offered and 25 runners took advantage of this option.
In all, 325 runners registered for the 2019 race, which takes runners from Exmouth to Budleigh for the first section, the flattest part of the course.
Section two takes a turn inland for a tour along the River Otter estuary and then on along the coastal path to Sidmouth Sailing Club.
This is the halfway point and the runners can stock up on provisions.
Section three is the toughest, throwing the runners into a long steep hill immediately with plenty more to follow all the way to Branscombe Mouth.
The last section goes through the village of Beer and finishes along the Seaton Promenade at the Axe Valley Sailing Club.
The first small group, the 25 early starters, including Mighty Green Jennifer Bentley, who continues to raise funds for HCPT group, set off at 9am and were given seven hours in which to reach Seaton.
The second race started at 10am. Kirsteen Welch pretty much led the ladies the whole way, overtaking five men over the final six miles. The hilly training runs she does seem to have paid off as she remained strong throughout.
This is the longest race Kirsteen has competed to date and also her first race since tearing her hamstring tendon nine weeks before.
However, she ran wonderfully, taking a full eight minutes off the previous course record!
Not far behind Kirsteen, and running with her for the first half of the race, was Mark Soutar.
The Exe to Axe has been his bogey race and he has yet to have one go smoothly. This time, just three miles in and a calf muscle tear turned the race to a Jurassic journey back in time!
He said: “Having started in Exmouth in an upright posture akin to Homo sapiens, by the time I arrived in Seaton, I was slumped, lolloping along and communicating with grunts like primitive man.”
Jim Forrer and Jessica Raynor were just a few minutes behind Mark. Jess and Nicola Dowsing both completed the run, the last of four such runs, they have now completed the Blackdown Beast, The 4 Trigs, The Grizzly and now the Exe to Axe in a terrific effort to raise money for a friends’ little girl.
Colin I’Anson took on his first JP’s Exe to Axe and was spot on with his prediction to his wife that he would finish in four-and-a-half hours – and he did!
In the half route, Cathy Keast got off to a flying start, literally! Having thrown herself onto shingle not long after setting off and making a right mess of the stones, she picked herself up, got patched up and was off again with her fellow Mighty Green ladies, Helen Palmer and Els Laures.
In the relay race there were four Sidmouth teams: Kat and Antony Hall (SRC Team Hall) with Kat doing the first half and Antony doing the second and they finished fifth in 3:56:33; Sarah Ginsberg and John Doherty (Pair-a-greens) finished 11th in 4:36:58; Auther and Christine Vince (Sidmouth Ancient and Dazed), completed the route, but missed the shut off time. [STEVE this says 4 teams but only 3 listed]
In all 13 teams took on the relay element of the event.
The last runner home did not finish until 4.30pm and that was back marker and marshal Danny Painter, one of the quickest runners at SRC, but who undertakes this job every year.
Paula Farrand and daughter Amelie were in charge of awarding medals to the winners, supported by Ashlynn Lee and Julie Mitchell, who were issuing snacks and drink.
Colin Flood and Alexa Baker, who transported the runners’ baggage from Exmouth to Seaton, also timed and registered all returning runners as they arrived.
They did a fantastic job with a constant stream of runners for three-and-a-half hours.
A really well-organised race and awesome support from all the marshalls and other mighty green members.
SRC results for those who completed the full distance within the six hours: Kirsteen Welch, 1st SRC, 1st lady, 3:07:56; Mark Souter, 70th, 4:47:45; Jim Forrer, 75th, 3:50:22; Jessica Raynor, 79th, 3:52:45; Nicola Dowsing, 144th, 4:24:45 Charlotte Forrer, 146th, 4:25:05; Jess Trim, 147th, 4:25:09; Simon Hollyer, 148th, 4:25:14; Colin I’Anson, 159th, 4:30:45; Lynda Hawkins, 181st, 4:46:13.
Full distance (early start): Jennifer Bentley, 224th, 5:36:23.
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