Sidmouth 11 – plus ‘Freddie’ – complete the Darkness of the Nightjar meeting

Sidmouth Running Club members at the The Darkness of the Nightjar event. Picture CONTRIBUTED

Sidmouth Running Club members at the The Darkness of the Nightjar event. Picture CONTRIBUTED - Credit: Archant

The evening of the third Saturday of September saw 11 members of Sidmouth Running Club dust off and power up their head torches to be on the start line ready for a blast around the pebblebed heathland of Woodbury Common and all under the cover of darkness, writes Hamish Spence.

The Darkness of the Nightjar event was organised by Flying Fox Running with the venue for the start and finish being at Bicton Arena, as access to the common is very close.

The sun had gone down and darkness had taken over!

The dogs were whimpering and barking in anticipation, their owners holding the four-legged friends back.

All were lined up, ready for what may come.

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Nine human ‘Mighty Green’ runners with one canine runner named Freddie, the crazy lurcher, opted for the shorter distance of five miles and two ladies took on the full nine-and-a-quarter miles.

The long race competitors, including our own Janice Ranson and Susie Perry, the latter who has returned to running recently after a very serious injury, were first away.

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The ever-so-overexcited and very noisy ‘Muttley Crew’ were next to go off into the night.

Jo Earlam battled it out with a large Alsatian who did not want to allow Freddie to pass!

Then the five-mile race was up and away. Antony Hall made a very nifty get away, Hamish Spence tried to follow.

However, he was blocked in by a wall of runners for the first 100 yards. The other seven Mighty Greens used the beginning to get warmed up and they settled in to the run at a steady pace.

Bert Dykema and Paula Farrand teamed up as did Terry Bewes, Laura Broughton, Julia Haddrell and Kat Hall.

The routes were challenging with plenty of variety in terrain, very dry and dusty with the odd rut or pebble to avoid.

We had moonlight for short spells, but it was very dark through the woodlands.

The course was very well marked out with glow sticks and the water stops were well stocked with sweets and nibbles, with water being served in environmentally friendly paper cups.

For the five-mile race, Antony Hall was the first Mighty Green runner back, finishing third overall in a very good time of 25:36.

Hamish Spence was next, home in 18th place overall and first over the line in age category (MV50) in a time of 46:02.

Next home was Paula Farrand, looking in good form and still laughing at running buddy Bert Dykema, who had mistakenly headed back towards the car park instead of the finish line!

Paula came 45th with a good time of 57:46 and Bert, who dropped a place, but still looked happy, came 47th in 58:01.

Next to appear out of the darkness was ‘The Gang of Four’, finishing 57th, 58th, 59th and 60th – in order of appearance it was - Kat Hall (1:02:17), Laura Broughton (1:02:28), Terry Bewes (1:02:30) and Julia Haddrell, who smashed her own average times to finish in 1:03:15.

The first and only Sidmouth canine past the post was obviously Freddie, very closely followed by owner Jo Earlam in 01:00:16.

Freddie looked ready to go again!

The two ladies taking on the long race did really well!

Susie Perry flew around the course in an amazing 1:38:23 coming 27th overall.

Janice was not far behind, finishing 33rd in a good time of 1:44:21.

Sidmouth Running Club excelled themselves in sending the biggest team to The Nightjar on the night and received a jug of sweets.

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