Exmouth Harriers – Review of 2021 Running: Part One

Exmouth Harriers at the Erme Valley Relays

Exmouth Harriers at the Erme Valley Relays - Credit: Exmouth Harriers

Throughout 2021, Exmouth Harriers competed in 11 virtual races and 103 “real” races. 

2021 started with everyone being locked down and this meant that there were no races and no parkruns; all competitions were either cancelled, postponed or turned into virtual events with runners competing by themselves.  

In the virtual races, the runners had to record their own times and submit them electronically to the event organisers who compiled the “results” from everyone’s times. 

During January, February and March, Harriers competed in 11 virtual events, including two relays and two British Masters Championship events. The highlight was on 7th March when 31 Harriers competed in the British Masters One-Mile Virtual Challenge with Tom Merson recording the fastest overall time of 4 minutes 21 seconds. 

The Exmouth “A” team (Tom Merson, Rob Ellis & Simon Minting) also gained 1st place in the team challenge. Ray Elston recorded the fastest M80 time of 8 minutes 2 seconds and, along with Mick Allen & John Goss-Custard, they achieved 2nd M75+ team place. 

In April, things started to open up very tentatively with runners starting the races in waves of ten a few minutes apart to comply with the continuing stringent social distancing rules.  

As the restrictions were loosened, more proper runs were organised with Harriers competing in seven races, including five Harriers (Amanda McCann, Lisa Hatchard, Hayley Johns, Alice Kelly and Nicola Kelly) in the East Devon 8 Trigs event that started and finished in Budleigh Salterton. There were also twelve Harriers racing in the Fast Friday 10km & 5km races around the service roads at Haldon Racecourse. 

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In May Lisa Hatchard took on the monumental challenge of racing in the Westcountry Ultra 100 Miler starting in Taunton and finishing in Minehead on a course that took in some of the most brutal climbs in Somerset. She covered the 100 miles in 30 hours after tackling over 10,000 metres of ascent.  

There was a family affair in the Sid Valley Half-Marathon with James Kelly taking overall 3rd position in 1.38.51 and his sister Alice finishing not far behind in 12th place and 2nd female in 1.50.09. Catarina Goncalves raced in the tough multi-terrain LM Events Exmouth Half-Marathon and was 2nd Women in a superb time of 1 hour 40 minutes. 

In June, Harriers won the Conquer24 event at Powderham Castle with the 8-man team of Sam & James Kelly, Simon Minting, Oliver White, Adam Miller, Tristan Kelsall-Spurr, Scott Jamieson and Tom Packer leading from start to finish, completing more than 215 miles between them in the 24 hours, with Sam Kelly recording the fastest overall lap time of 27.49 for the five miles.  

The Allsorts team that consisted of Nick Ramm, Jim Comer, Nicola Kelly & Amy Tew completed 130 miles in the 24 hours and were placed 3rd in the Mixed Small Team category. Chris Murrin ran solo and completed 80 miles in the 24 hours. Hannah Bown and Terry McKie raced in the 32 Miles Dartmoor Discovery with Hannah the 1st Female to finish, plus she received the awards for the 1st W40 and the 1st Female Newcomer. 

In July, the Harriers competed in 13 races with Tom Merson winning his first of two British Masters Championship races when he won the Caterham Half-Marathon by over two minutes in 1.10.12.   

Craig Butler & Kelly Thomas raced in the Winding Paths Exe Estuary races, starting and finishing at Budleigh Salterton. Kelly completed the 42km race in 4.31.50 and Craig finished the 50km (his longest ever race) in 6.18.37. Rob Ellis & Des White won Gold Medals and Oliver White a Silver Medal in their age categories in the Devon 10,000m Championships at Exeter Arena. 

Exmouth Harriers would like to thank all the event organisers, officials and volunteers who made what could have been a difficult period for athletics a very successful and enjoyable 12 months. 

Part Two of the Exmouth Harriers review next week. 

Hannah Bown in the Dartmoor Discovery Marathon

Hannah Bown in the Dartmoor Discovery Marathon - Credit: Exmouth Harriers

Tom Merson winning the British Masters 10 Miles

Tom Merson winning the British Masters 10 Miles - Credit: Exmouth Harriers

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