Saturday morning saw 9 Sidmouth Running Club members attending the pre-run briefing at the Highfield Club, Dunkeswell ready for the start of this very popular run. I say run as it is not a race. Falling between the pre and post-Christmas races this is a 17 mile self-navigation social run over the beautiful Blackdown Hills. We were promised plenty of mud, bog and hills and there were plenty of each.
The run is split into 4 legs, the first about 7 miles takes you through fields, lanes, woods, farm yards and a proper bog to Smeatharpe Village Hall where the W.I. ladies had hot pasties and mulled cider waiting. The next leg of about 3 miles and the easiest takes you to the Sidmouth Arms at Upottery where more liquid refreshment is available. You have the opportunity of finishing here and taking a bus back to the start but for the hardened Sidmouth runners that was never an option.
Leg 3 is only about 3.5miles but very tough. After a road run to Rawridge you then plough your way across two very boggy fields before starting a mile plus climb up to and through the Buddhist Monastery woodland which now has a lake, to the top of the ridge where you are rewarded with a fantastic 180 degree panoramic view before dropping down into Luppit. Arriving at the unique Luppit Inn which is one of the smallest Inns in the country you are greeted by Gladys the Landlady who will tell you “I am 93 you know”, but I am sure she was 93 last year as well, a great character.
The final leg takes you through a series of boggy fields and a few more hills to finish you off. Arriving back at the Club, tired, muddy and wet we all agreed to return next year.
As I said at the start this is a social run but of course there is always the competitive runner amongst us. Normally this would be George but this year it was Jessica Raynor who finished 4th out of the 180 runners in under 3 hours and was the first lady home. She was back home in Sidmouth and had a bath by the time the true social runners finished some 2 hours later.
A superbly organised event by Honiton Running Club and over a £1,000 raised for charity.