Sidmouth runners enjoy the 2015 Blackdown Beast

Sidmouth runners at the Blackdown Beast

Sidmouth runners at the Blackdown Beast - Credit: Archant

The Blackdown Beast is a welcome event in the running calendar falling between the pre and post Christmas races, for this is a social 16.5-mile

elf-navigation run through the beautiful Blackdown Hills with no number, no timing and no prizes, writes Terry Bewes.

It is also very popular and is always fully booked well before Christmas. Eight members of Sidmouth Running Club attending the pre-run briefing at the Highfield Club, Dunkeswell, heard the run organiser promise plenty of sunshine, mud and hills and of course he was right.

In any group of runners not all can forget their competitive nature and so it was with David Palmer who was running with his buddy, Ian, an elite member of Honiton Running Club. The other club members were not having this so decided that a handicap had to be applied. Heads were put together and as there were three checkpoints on the route it was agreed he would be required to drink two pints at each stop. For some reason he was not upset and agreed willingly!

Off we went on the first leg of 7.5-miles (if you don’t get lost) to Smeatharpe Village Hall. A downhill run for a mile soon turns into mud, hill, bog, hill, fields, hill, bog, woods, bog and it was in one of the bogs that Cathy Keast left her shoe which took some recovering. Arriving at the Village Hall, where the WI Ladies’ had hot pasties and mulled cider for all, we met David after taking his fill of both.

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The second leg of three-miles to the Sidmouth Arms, Upottery, takes you through a proper bog where Terry did his super-hero bit hauling out one of the Exmouth Belles who was stuck knee deep. On arrival once again David, having taken his fill, was leaving.

Leg Three is three-and-a-half-miles to the Luppit Inn which is so unique you have just got to visit. It is a proper old local’s pub with a landlady in her 90’s. Although a short distance, this is a tough leg. After a road run to Rawridge you then plough your way through two boggy fields before starting a mile plus climb up to and through the Buddhist Monastery woodland to the top of the hill where you are rewarded with a fantastic 180 degree panoramic view before dropping down to Luppit.

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The Sunday hill training sessions definitely paid off for Debbie Marriott, Don Cawthera and Terry Bewes. The handicap was definitely taking effect as David was still in the bar when we arrived so setting off just after him we had hopes of catching him before the end. However another series of boggy field and hills took its toll on us and despite a final effort across the last field David was gone. And when we got back to the club there he was, pint in hand with a big smile, waiting to greet us.

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