Dark Woods

The long and winding road played on the car radio as we left Sidmouth on a dreary and wet Saturday afternoon heading some 40 miles toward Watchet to run the Dark Woods night race. And it was, long and winding. Beccy had the written directions and Nikita used the satnav on her phone which worked well until the other side of Taunton where the signal was very intermittent and then was lost altogether. The Great Wood is the Quantock Forest; a mix of broad leafed woods and conifer plantations that cover several hills and valleys. This was a race that none of us had done before and talking to some who had at the recent Nightjar race it was a tough one with two big hills. The event is organised by Flying Fox Running and such is the popularity of their races that 342 competitors turned up on a cold wet night to run the various distances. On entering the wood, it is about a mile up a stony road to the car park and race HQ and heading up you noticed arrow markers and we soon realised that we would be running down here later. Arriving in plenty of time we parked near the start so were able to sit in the car, watch the rain and wait with some anticipation as to what we had let ourselves in for. We could hear the race briefing and watch the first batch of 6km, and 8.5-mile runners set off before venturing out in the rain to take on the 6 miles.
The race is set in a figure of 8 and from the start Beccy and Kyle set off together whilst I ran with Nikita for a short while before she was gone. The first loop of about 2 miles, after the drop from the start, is a gradual climb back past the start and then the mile run down the drive where the marshal tells you as you turn left “Beware of the slope”. The slope was the first hill, a mile uphill climb with an elevation gain of 500 feet to the water station but it was runnable with fairy steps in places. After refuelling there was a quieter section before the second hill which was shorter but had a much steeper incline and that was not runnable, the mud making it barely walkable. We were now on top of the ridge in the clouds, which made for some very interesting running with the headtorches through the mud and stones but at least it was fairly flat before a short nasty steep downhill run over loose stones to enter the final mile downhill sprint to the finish. Nikita has only recently joined the club after completing the couch to 5km programme and this was her first 6 mile run in the dark over a course she did not know so great respect to her. She would have beaten me but with 2 miles to go I had caught up with her and as she lost a shoe in the mud, I stopped to pull it out but left her to put it back on whilst I ran on. At the finish we received our amazing medals and tucked into the the food and drink laid out for us. It was well worth the drive, an excellent race superbly organised by Nathan and Pippa of Flying Fox Running and their team. Next up will be their Ninesprings by Night.
Kyle Baker 23rd in 59:27, Beccy McDonald 8th female and 33rd in 1:05:54, Terry Bewes 1:14:53 2nd in age group, Nikita Kay 1:16:48.

Jo’s Three Day Atlantic Coast Challenge.

    My training for this year’s Atlantic Coast Challenge, a three marathons in three days event from Constantine Bay to Lands End, mostly involved resting and eating cake, so I was aware from the start that a lot of walking would be involved writes Jo Earlam.
   Indeed each day I set off at a slow pace, watching the other participants run, leap and jog away from me and within a short time, I was often the back marker, which didn’t bother me at all as it meant I had the sometimes narrow paths to myself. Some while later the faster runners (arriving on the next minibus trips) would pass me, the lead runner in the blink of an eye, then a stream of nibble footed followers, with a cheery exchange of “well done”, and me stepping carefully to the landward side of steep cliff paths to let people pass.
   I didn’t bother to set my GPS as I knew the battery would pack up before my expected finish time. I just hoped my legs and mental attitude would last out. I let the terrain and tiredness dictate my pace, if both were tough I’d walk, if they were favourable I’d jog.
   The first day was dominated by strong winds, gusting so fierce at times that it was hard to stand up straight let alone make progress and by 22 miles and at more than six hours it had been become an exhausting battle! A narrow cliff edge and steep climb from Holywell Bay to Penhale Camp was particularly gruelling, leading to complete sense of humour loss! Hoever, I eventually got down to Perranporth beach and my conservative start paid dividends, I had enough energy to do a steady jog, passing several people and completing the two miles of sand in 24 minutes.
   My strategy for days two and three was similar, setting off at walking pace, watch everyone disappear, and keep plodding on behind them. Each day I also stopped at the halfway checkpoint, sat and emptied sand from shoes, had sandwiches and fabulous homemade flapjacks along with a welcomed cup of coffee. All provided as part of the amazing event hospitality. The scenery on route is incredible and offers many opportunities to pause for photo breaks and sometimes seal spotting.
   On day two, although I was tired, I power walked past several people on the last two mile road hike to the finish at St Ives Bay Holiday Park, our accommodation venue for the weekend, and on day three Lands End was like a lure, from the last checkpoint at Cape Cornwall, I fixed my sights on it and with a steely determination put every effort I could into those final six miles, managing to properly run the last half mile and elated as I crossed the line.
   All of my finish times were slower than last year, which – not being as fit – I knew from the outset would be the case. However, checking the statistics was rewarding, as I could see that my slow pace did not hold me back and more importantly did not stop me taking part. In fact rather like the tortoise and the hare, my plodding paid off, as each day my time and placing between the last the checkpoint and the finish got better, and the final day was my best.
   My times and placings were: Day one – 7:24, from place 174 to 146 between checkpoints, and placed overall 161; Day two – 7:08, from place 167 to 118 between checkpoints, and placed overall 148; Day three – 9:27, from place 153 (5 minutes before 162, who was the last person) to 88 between checkpoints, and placed overall 130. Overall finish time 23:59, overall finish place 129. I didn’t win, I wasn’t fast, but I’m really happy with how I did and now the 74th  marathon has been completed. 

The Minster Challenge

   The Minster Challenge, a multi-terrain race of approx. 12km, (7.5 miles). A pretty route amongst farmland, woods, fields, country lanes, uneven footpaths, streams and the aptly named ‘Evil Lane’. Oh and plenty of mud writes Terry Bewes
   After the short drop down to the main road from the start, the next 6km turned out to be all uphill, rising to around 750 feet. At times due to the mud, we found ourselves going backwards down the hill. Following this section was a few kilometres of mainly meandering downhill descents before reaching another kilometre of steep climb. This was just to test us all before turning to run mainly downhill to the finish. The course is run in a figure of eight with the 5km runners completing one circuit.
   There were five Sidmouth runners, two in the 5km and three in the 12km taking part and all were recovering from one injury or another, so this was to be a stern test for them. Kate Marriott proved that her foot problem is well and truly behind her with a stunning run, winning first female, first under 15 and finishing 6th overall in 28:24. Suzi Rockey ( knee injury ) continues with the 5km races and her knee held up well in the conditions. However, Suzi felt like she had not performed to the best of her ability. Suzi, well done, you took part and it doesn’t matter were you came. In the 12km Debbie Marriott ( hamstring ) and Don Cawthera ( collarbone ) ran around together both finishing in 1:21:20. Myself, Terry Bewes ( operation ) continue on my way back to fitness. The challenge this time was to test my head and legs and to run the whole of this challenging course on my own, without walking or stopping. Runners know that the first thing to go is your head which is usually trying to convince you that it has had enough! Thanks to the physio and massage theopy, Barbra Vidion, Yoga and Lauren Clapp Personal Training over the last six weeks, I did it, crossing the finish line in 1:28:38. Next up for me is the Dark Woods 6 mile race in the Quantocks this coming weekend, it has a hilly theme again…! Bring it on

Bradley 10k

The Exmouth Bradley 10k
Prior to the storm on the Saturday night 634 competitors had entered themselves into The Exmouth Bradley 10k race. However, 137 cried off, leaving 497 to brave out the bluster and rain, 7 of which were weather-proof Mighty Greens. By the morning the weather had cleared a bit, with only a moderate breeze and light drizzle which passed by the start of the race. So the Magnificent 7 ran it in either a Mighty Green tee-shirt or vest.
This is a two lap race starting on the Exmouth Promenade which heads out along the sea front and onto part of the beach passing the RLNI all the way to the zig-zag steps. Then back to the Lifeboat station and up to Maer Rd and onto Douglas Avenue and back down to the seafront where the competitors turn and do one more lap.
The first MG across the finish line and in 191st place was Becky McDonald with a new PB of 54m:08s. Suzi Rocky is continuing to improve on her performance with a very steady run crossing the line in 58m:05s and taking 248th position. Having recently joined SRC, Jasmine Reeves ran her first race in the Mighty Green colours. She did herself and SRC proud. She came 266th and ran the route in a very respectable 58h:33m. Amelia Frankpitt used this race as her final warm up before the Exeter Half Marathon in two weeks’ time. She come in at 1h00m51s taking 298th place. Just after Amelia was Rachel Burrow, who ran a steady pace all the way around and got an impressive time of 1h01m38s in315th place.
Having participated in some off road trail races in September, this was the first road race Terry Bewes had entered. The Exmouth Bradley 10k was to test out how his recovery was going. All was going to plan for Terry. As he began the 2nd lap, he could see the lead runner entering the last hundred yards to the finish line. Undeterred he powered on along the sea front again, overtaking a few runners. Then, halfway around and going up the hill for the last time, he caught up with a lady and got talking to her. She too was recovering from an operation, so they decided to run the final mile together giving encouragement to each other. This really paid off, as they both passed many runners and stormed their way to the finish line. Terry had set his sights on an 11 minute-mile pace, so he was very pleased to find he had in-fact been achieving a better than 10min/mile. This defiantly shows that it pays to have a running buddy. Terry gained the 313th place in 01h01m35s. His next race will be the Minster Challenge which will test him further over a longer distance.
It was a busy few days for David Skinner ,who also took part in the Parkrun on Saturday. So, with the stormy conditions during this 10k event in Exmouth and the fact that he is still not fully recovered from a recent illness, it was never going to be easy for him. However, he still managed a time of 1h10m05s, just 6 minutes slower than last year. David was pleased with his performance having covered15k over the weekend and feels that he’s gradually getting back to his normal form.

Cheryl Flew The Swindon Half Marathon.

Back in 2017, The Swindon Half Marathon was given a brand new route. A predominately flat and fast course making it ideal for beginners and elites writes Cheryl Boulton.

I had lived in Swindon for 15 years and never entered the Swindon half marathon (due to the old route being so hilly). Now that I’ve lived in Devon for a while and conquered some proper hills, Peak Hill being one of them, I felt it was time to give Swindon a go. I then saw some recent reports on social media, which were suggesting that race directors were unable to make this event work financially and that his would be the last Swindon Half Marathon ever! That was it, the deciding factor, I entered immediately!  

The event starts in the town centre of Swindon, with the new route passing various landmarks of the town, including the notorious Magic Roundabout, The County Ground, the Oasis, the Railways, the McArther Glenn Outlet Village as well as the Old Town before a downhill dash back into the Town Centre to finish line under the big screen of Wharf Green.

I started training on 4th August, with a 7 mile distance run once a week, increasing by a further mile every week with my last long run of 12 miles, being on the 8th of September. 

Before the start, It was great to see so many runners from my previous running club, the Swindon Allstars. Even better was that one of them, Kim Tindskard Christensen, agreed to run with me throughout, but only after agreeing a target of 2:05-2:15. This would prove to be invaluable in helping me cross the line. 

Within 2-3 minutes of setting off at 9.30am, heavy rain began to fall and continued for the duration of the run. Both of us were doing well achieving 6 miles in an hour until the 7.5 mile point where I stepped into a rain filled pot hole outside the Mc Arther Glenn shopping outlet. I twisted my left ankle, went flying and scraped my right arm on the ground as I slid. The pain was horrific but despite a Race Marshall calling for a medic, I managed to get up, wrap my handkerchief around my bleeding arm and continue with the remaining 5.5 miles. My friend was a great support carrying my water bottle, motivating me and encouraging me along (especially at mile 11 at Pipers way. Amazingly I finished in 2h:06m:17s. Resilience, perseverance, a friends encouragement and the wearing of a Mighty Green shirt got me round the remaining 5.5 miles. The question now is-will my ankle heal in time to run the Great West Run on 13th October?

Featured Image: Cheryl Boulton (left) with her friend and Swindon All Stars member Kim Tindskard Christensen after completing the Swindon half Marathon.

What Came Before? A Sting In The Tail, Or The Night Jar?

What Came Before was an eventful race for all who participated. Hills, stones, some mud and an angry bunch of wasps to dodge writes Hamish Spence.

The events were organised by Flying Fox Running and the routes took the competitors over the unique Pebblebed Heathland of Woodbury Common. 

Nikita Kay, a new SRC member of just two weeks, having done the couch to 5k using an app on her phone, decided to take on as her first race, the 5k What Came Before. That in its self was brave, but braver still was completing the route having been stung on her backside by an angry wasp! She was not alone in being stung, Suzi Rockey also received one on her butt. Alexa Baker had been given her ticket to this race by Kyle Baker as a Birthday present. She too received a sting to her rear end! David Skinner who has a habit of getting stung by wasps during races had his finger stung…you got away lightly David as your stinger was not a BumBiter! Kyle Baker led the MG’s around the route while Terry Bewes took a more defensive decision to run at the back of the competitors keeping well away from the pesky wasps.

Antony Hall took off right from the beginning of the What Came Before 10k race. He literally shot off leaving all behind him. He sustained his pace throughout the race and held the lead position all the way around. He took first place by over 4 minutes. Christine and Karen Farnham evaded the angry insects and ran the route together.

The 5 mile Night Jar competitors enjoyed being on a moonlight Heathland. Julia Haddrell managed to beat last years attempt by four minutes. Laura Broughton was really pleased to have knocked twelve minutes from her previous attempt and Bex MacDonald also gained a PB time. Kat Hall ran a respectable ‘middle of the field’ race. Dee Lawerence decided it was time to take the plunge and do an event. She chose running 5 miles in the dark and completed it in a very respectable hour. Terry Bewes also took part in the Night Jar in the Sweeper position and ran with Dee.

Tim Swarbrick took on the 10 miler and enjoyed it, so much so, that he took a wrong turning halfway around! He noticed that the competitors that were behind him had all taken a different route…and then the penny dropped! Fortunately he had not gone far off route and only lost a few places.


What Came Before 5k…Kyle Baker 6th, 25m58s. Suzi Rockey 18th, 31m31s. Nikita Kay 35th, 37m19s. David Skinner 40th, 39m31s. Alexa Baker 43rd, 41m39s. Terry Bewes 46th 43m59s.

What Came Before 10k…Antony Hall 1st Male, 1st MV40 in 43m38s. Christine Farnham 18th, 31m31s. Karen Farnham 26th, 1h00m05s.

Night Jar 5 miles…Kyle Baker 12th, 44m58s. Becky MacDonald 19th, 47m45s. Laura Broughton 29th, 51m05s. Kat Hall 35th, 53m29s.

Julia Haddrell 59th, 58m58s. Doreth (Dee) Lawrence 70th, 01h06m41s. Terry Bewes 71st, 01h06m42s.  

Adrian Goes Wild In The Extreme.

On Saturday the 14th of September, Adrian Horne took part in the Hospice Wild Tri Extreme on Dartmoor writes Hamish Spence. 

He completed a 32 km cycle ride on a route that skirts around the Meldon Reservoir and some steep ascents onto the wild tops of Dartmoor. After that, he ran a 13 km trail onto one of the highest Torrs of Dartmoor, a climb that Adrian completed a fortnight ago doing a marathon. However this time it involved crossing boggy terrain, a water course, rocks and more mud. Adrian was back and taking on Yes Torr again, but with a renewed enthusiasm to beat this brute. Beat it he did, coming in 17th over all, in a good time of 4h51m, raising £144.00 for Hospice Care while he was at it. 

A First  Marathon For Allan Kay 

A First  Marathon For Allan Kay 

Allan Kay took part in the Trail running challenge, Dartmoor marathon which was organised by Trail Events Co writes Hamish Spence. 

Allan, who is 46, took part in this, his first ever marathon and found it quite a tough race. However, as he is running the 2020 London Marathon for charity he wanted to push himself with his training program and see where his fitness level has got too. Allan really enjoyed the race up until mile 22, where he felt he started to struggle. However, he was not about to give up and he knew he would complete the route. He was really pleased with his time-keeping, although he didn’t have a set finish time in mind, his only goal was to finish it. Allan finished 21st out of 39 runners and 5th out of 9 in the vets category.

Featured image: Allan Kay during The Dartmoor Marathon 2019. Photo by @kb_pho_vid. 

Sidbury Fun Run.

The 21st Sidbury Fun Run, part of the Sidbury Fair Week, was held on a beautiful, very warm morning last Sunday writes Sarah Ginsberg. 

There were over 180 entrants, both runners and walkers, ranging in age from babies in buggies to grandparents, together with many of their four legged friends. Eight Mighty Greens took part; Naomi Garrick, Rachel Burrows, Michael Ginsberg, Sarah Ginsberg, Paula Farrand, Bert Dykema, Emma Grainger and Jenny Benattar. 

The Sidbury Fun Run is a surprisingly tough run although relatively short. It starts up hill, all the way to the top of Evergreen Hill, a mere 550 feet of climbing. Then follows an even longer uphill section of 596ft with a very welcomed downhill and cooler run through the woods. A short pass in-front of Sidbury Manor and on to the finish line at the Village Hall. Here, a delicious hog roast and cold beer was on offer, along with a fine pottery souvenir mug for all finishers. This was a great family event with a fabulous community atmosphere.

First Mighty Green home was Sarah Ginsberg (2nd Open Lady), followed by Naomi Garrick and Paula Farrand (2nd Local Lady).

Kirsteen wins Chippenham Half

Kirsteen Smashes The Chippenham Half Marathon
   The Chippenham Half Marathon was selected as the event for the SW Inter Counties Road Championships. There were teams from all over the South West in attendance all there with the opportunity of winning team medals writes Hamish Spence. 
   This half marathon took pace along a fast and pancake flat route and is known for competitors achieving personal best times, as Kirsteen Welch was to find out. The event which is organised by Chippenham Harriers, started by heading through the town centre of Chippenham and out into the rural roads passing through the villages of Stanley The Tythertons, Avon, Kellaways, Langley Burrell and back into the town to finish at  the Chippenham Sports Club. 
   This was a good opportunity for Kirsteen to pit herself against some top county road runners. Her coach, Norman Wilson gave the advice for her to “Go out with the top women, hang on in there and see how you do”. This is exactly what happened.
   Annabel Granger representing Bristol went out fast right from the start (a sub 6min/ mile pace). Kirsteen followed her immediately, fully expecting to blow up halfway around. But that never happened. Sticking with Annabel, Kirsteen felt strong and comfortable with the pace. Mile eight passed, both ladies were still averaging a six and a bit min/miles until mile 9 when Kirsteen started to tire. She had dropped back by about 5metres! Giving herself a good talking too, digging deep and embracing the pain, Kirsteen picked up the pace and managed to close the gap. At around mile twelve, Kirsteen took the lead. She manage to hold on to that lead and even extended it all the way to the finish line. With the crowd cheering her on, she took 1st place for the ladies in what was to be a PB time of 1h20m16s. Her previous PB of 1:24:18 which she set back in February this year when taking part in the Gloucester half marathon. She has bittersweet memories of that event as she got injured not long afterwards. 
   Both Devon teams had a fantastic day, the Ladies taking gold and the Men’s team the silver with Tom Merson also being 1st man across the finish line.