Wednesday, November 28, 2012
Despite a week of torrential downpours and severe flooding that saw some other races in the local area cancelled, the Bicton Blister, organised by the Exmouth Harriers, went ahead as scheduled, writes Ellie Sutcliffe.
The damp conditions on the course did not dampen the spirits of the 484 runners who took part across both the main 10-mile race and the shorter 4.5-mile Bicton Lite race.
The runners faced a challenge just getting to the venue with road closures in place due to flooding around Bicton College, where the races start and finish.
A thigh deep, 50m long puddle that had engulfed the lane out the back entrance of the College meant that a last minute re-routing of the race was needed, with runners being directed into a neighbouring field to avoid a dunking, and this before they even got to the off-road section of the run!
Due to the course being saturated and very boggy throughout, conditions were tougher than ever this year for the runners and this was reflected in the top three mens’ and womens’ times being three to four minutes down on previous years.
However, the animated post-race banter suggested that all the participants had enjoyed the taxing, undulating course, which keeps runners guessing throughout as they twist and turn around the pebbly paths of the beautiful Woodbury Common, tackling a variety of terrain and natural obstacles.
The main 10-mile race was won by Stuart Hall of Devon Fire and Rescue Service in a time of 1:04:38. Hall won the race in 2010 and has also finished second and third in recent years.
He also took away the top veteran prize. Lee Turner of Torbay AC was second in 1:04:45 with club mate Simon Longthorpe third in 1:05:15.
In the women’s race, visiting runner Clare Miller from London Heathside took the spoils, clocking a time of 1:18:23 for 36th place overall.
All the more impressive is that she completed the run in road shoes as a friend had entered her for what she thought was going to be a road race!
Talented local veteran runner, Caroline Hewitt of Tiverton Harriers, grabbed the second spot and top female vet, in 1:21:39 and unattached runner, Joanna McKenzie, made up the top three in 1:22:17.
Thanks must go to everyone who helped to make the event a success, including Harriers and their families who marshaled or did the time-keeping and results, the Exmouth Cadets who also helped to marshal, Bicton College for the venue, Sidmouth RC for the loan of some of their time-keeping equipment and St. John’s Ambulance who, fortunately, were not kept busy on the day and had time to have a cup of tea and enjoy the atmosphere!
Some of the proceeds from the race will go towards the Wukro-Devon Running project, which the Exmouth Harriers support, and which helps to fund financially poor, but talent rich athletes in Ethiopia.