Conditions for this year’s race turned out surprisingly well. Gales were forecast all along the Devon coast for the day and recent rains had made the route very muddy and slippery underfoot. As a result some of those pre-entered didn’t bother to make the start but they were compensated to a degree by a good number of late entries.
The rain held off for most of the day and the very strong South Westerly winds proved to be a big help to the runners. A few, quite a lot actually, did slip up on the muddy slopes but this in no way dampened their enthusiasm. The following wind also ensured that generally speaking it produced some of the quickest times that we have seen over the years. This has to be measured against the frequent changes of route forced upon us by cliff falls along the coast. Having said that, the first 8 runners were all quicker than last year’s winner, Michael Robinson, who improved by 4 minutes but had to settle for 5th place.
Undoubtedly though the performance of the day came from Annie Conway, an Ambleside AC member, who came down from the Lake District to show us all how it should be done. She and the ultimate winner, Matthew Clyst one of the local Axe Valley Runners, swapped places frequently but in the end Matthew beat her to the finish line by a mere 9 seconds in a time of 2.41.41. Annie did however have the satisfaction of breaking the Ladies’ course record by more than 22 minutes. She does however have previous in this event having run it in 2010 as Annie Baumber when she finished 2nd lady but more than half an hour slower than her blistering run this year.
It is also perhaps pertinent to point out that, apart from Matthew this year, only two other men have beaten her time. They are Tom Merson, the male Course record holder in 2011 and 2012 and James Bellward in 2010. Annie, we salute you and would love to see a lady winner of this race next year.
There were 203 finishers with 96 either not starting, pulling out, or part of a relay team.