Sidmouth runners tame the Blackdown Beast event

Five runners from Sidmouth set off from Sidmouth on a rare dry day to Dunkerswell to run the ‘Blackdown Beast’, writes Helen Palmer.

Having lashed it down the day before and indeed over the last month or so, they knew it would be wet and muddy.

The ‘Black’ bit may have nothing to do with the Blackdown hills the race would cover but the state of everyone’s shoes, legs, clothes etc. Cathy Keast, Terry Bewes and Helen Palmer were running for the second year in succession (they enjoyed it so much last year). They were joined by Abbi Lee who has been putting in some excellent training and David Palmer who put in some excellent pints of cider at the end !

This is an informal run with no times recorded and three social stops along the route but 17.3 miles on rain and mud soaked trails and 1823 feet of elevation is no mean feat. After setting off from Dunkerswell Social club, the route which starts along the road quickly veers off onto lanes, tracks, boggy fields and hills. The first stop is at Smetharpe village hall where pasties and mulled cider are served by the local Women’s Institute to runners. While not thinking we were really hungry, we quickly devoured them and were off for the next leg to Uppottery.

Such off road events take you to places you would not usually see or know about and a Tibetan Buddhist garden on the climb from Rawridge is a lovely surprise. Having been blessed by sunshine up to this point, the weather started to turn and overlooking the valley down to Luppit the wind blew up, the sky darkened and we all hoped to get back before the next band of rain forecast for Sunday.

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Our next stop was another gem, the pub at Luppit. Run by Vera who is 92 years old (so our pre-race pep talk informed us). It is like stepping back in time and a real talking point. Terry had a smashing time inside! Managing to demolish his J2O but our soft drinks there were just what we needed as the last hill from Luppit saw our energies starting to fade and the wind really made the last few miles tough going.

But back at race HQ a quick check of our watches saw us complete the course in 3hrs 28mins, some 20 mins quicker than last year (and 0.8miles further following the route changing) and so some encouraging news ready for the Four Trigs in two weeks time. Thanks go to Honiton Running Club and John Burgess for again organising a great run and most of the entry fee went to Macmillan Cancer charity funds. There is a short video clip on their web site if anyone new to off road running wants to be tempted by the opportunities right on our doorsteps!

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