Women Can

Sidmouth Women are Fearless

Last Sunday saw Sidmouth Running Club’s women out in force for the Women Can marathon, a women-only marathon and relay event for runners and Nordic walkers. The event, starting and finishing at Tipton St John, was inspired by Kathrine Switzer and her Fearless 261 organisation. The number 261 was Kathrine’s bib number from the 1967 Boston Marathon where she was physically attacked by the race co-director, for officially registering and running in what was then considered a men-only race. Since then Fearless 261 have gone on to support female runners across the globe.

Wind the clock forward to 2017 and local runner Jo Earlam decided to organise a local Women only marathon which proved so popular it was repeated in 2018. Fearless runners from SRC turned out for the challenge, some doing the full marathon and others doing relays.

The scenic hilly off road course followed footpaths from Tipton to Budleigh Salterton, then along the South West Coast path to Sidmouth, the halfway point. Runners then went up the Byes to Sidford and the toughest climb of 777 feet up East Hill to Whitecross. The course then descended through woodland, into open fields, and a quiet country lane to Ottery St Mary, passing through the length of the town to again reach the River Otter, and the final flat, riverside path back to Tipton St John.

Cath Miller, from SRC was doing her first marathon supported by friend Claire Ashby. ‘One Friday morning about 5 weeks ago I ran with Jo, who inspired me to take part in Women Can. I vowed I would never run a marathon, but 5 weeks later on the 27th May 2018, I completed Women Can with a smile on my face. What an amazing experience it was to run amongst inspirational women, with all the support of my family and friends’.

The thunder, lightning and rain of the previous evening disappeared leaving a warm humid atmosphere for the first stage to Budleigh. Jane Hemsworth and Helen Palmer, both seasoned marathon runners were impressed by the organisation, support and company along the way.

Jane said ‘The run was well supported with over 100 volunteers and marshalls, offering sweet treats as well as water. The route was well laid out with signs and pink ribbons. SRC men were joined by friends and partners of the runners to do the marking, marshalling and pre-checking the route and we had a really enjoyable day out with lots of like-minded ladies’.

Helen Palmer enjoyed the company too. ‘I settled in with four other runners and whilst not running with them all the time we kept bumping into each other with words of encouragement. Two were 261 Fearless runners from London and there were also runners from Switzerland and New Zealand as part of the 261 community’.

Results for SRC runners in the full marathon:
Jessica Raynor 3:51:56, Charlotte Forrer 4:44:07, Kaylee Hawkins 5:04:30, Lynda Hawkins 5:04:30, Cath Miller 5:27:11, Claire Ashby 5:27:11, Helen Palmer 6:00:29, Naomi Garrick 6:19:57