The Dartmoor Discovery took place on Saturday 5th June. The 32.5 mile Ultra takes in some of the most challenging hills in any UK road race. First run in 1998, the race was conceived by Phil Hampton, who continued to organise it until his retirement in 2010. Originally, the course was 34 miles. It was shortened to 32 miles in 2002, to avoid runners having to cross a busy road in Princetown. In 2001, the event was cancelled in response to a severe outbreak of foot and mouth disease across the UK. In 2020, the race was cancelled for the second time in its history, due to a global coronavirus pandemic. Anyone wishing to enter the Dartmoor Discovery should be aware that it is a genuinely tough event aimed at experienced runners who have already completed a marathon. A strict, six-and-a-half-hour cut-off policy is in place. After this time, race marshals will be withdrawn from the course.
The DD, which starts and finishes in Princetown, is organised by leading South West running club the Teignbridge Trotters. Renowned for stunning views, equally breath-taking hills and weather that always surprises, the DD is the UK’s longest single-lap road race. The event has been steadily growing in popularity since 2010, when the Trotters took over its organisation. This year, was the biggest DD ever: a record 211 finishers crossed the line, out of a record starting line-up of 223 runners.
Weston AC runner Kieron Summers successfully defended his Dartmoor Discovery (DD) title, storming round a wet and misty course to win the 2021 event in a time of 3:51:31. An impressive showing by Exmouth Harrier Hannah Bown, who was running the famously tough 32-mile course for the first time, secured her the ladies’ top spot, in 4:37:46.
Teignbridge Trotter Chairman Roger Hayes, who is also the DD’s Race Director, said: ‘Kieron and Hannah triumphed after what has been a hugely difficult 18 months for all runners, amid considerable disruption caused by the global coronavirus pandemic. I’m so proud of them, as I am of every runner who completed the DD this year. It was a great way to show how dedication and grit can overcome difficult circumstances.’
Former winner Dave Tomlin was second, finishing in 3:57:03. Robert Kelly of Okehampton RC came third, in a time of 3:58:07. Joanne Robinson of Looe Pioneers was second lady, finishing in 4:42:13. Fellow Looe Pioneer Emma Langstaff came third, in 4:43:15.
The race has bounced back from its enforced cancellation in 2020, returning with a new race headquarters at the Princetown Community Centre, where the organisers have been able to offer runners an improved race experience and better facilities.
Roger Hayes said: ‘I’m deeply grateful to the Princetown Community Centre team for their support as we worked together to stage the event. The DD is a race that has community at its heart and it’s very fitting that this fine community centre is now our new race headquarters.’
Every DD sparks fierce competition for coveted team trophies and this year’s race was no different. In the men’s team event, Okehampton RC’s Kelly, ably supported by Paul Crease (4:11:42) and Andrew Vallance (4:25:23), triumphed. Running Forever RC were second and a dominant Okehampton secured third place. In the ladies’ competition, a Teignbridge Trotters team of Mandy Wheeler (5:05:32), Jacki Woon (5:08:01) and Wendy Goldthorp (5:15:36) came first. Almost Athletes ladies team took second place.
This year’s event was a special occasion for DD veteran Loretta Daley, who had chosen the race to mark her 100th marathon. She received her 100 Marathon Club t-shirt at a special ceremony after the event.
Saturday was a bittersweet day for Roger Hayes, who was presiding over his 10th and final DD as Race Director. He said: ‘It has been a great 11 years since we took over the event. I’ve met some amazing people and witnessed some incredible performances. There has been a lot of blood, sweat and tears out on that course but there has been an incredible amount of camaraderie, support and love, too. I shall miss it tremendously but I know that my successor Liz Barnett will do a wonderful job of ensuring the DD continues to go from strength to strength.’
Also running for the Teignbridge Trotters were: Kris Ward (4:36:53), James Saunders (4:52:52), Ian Langler (5:16:50), Graydon Widdicombe (5:17:23), Susanna Goffe (5:25:11), Debbie Proctor (5:42:44), Sarah Pike (5:43:45), Alan Kember (5:44:03), Andrew Fox (5:45:19), Kurt Read (5:47:27), John Holland (4:47:11), Nigel Barnett (5:48:31), Gary Brooking (5:57:34), Bon Rymel (5:57:36), Paul Sharples (6:02:12), Christian Robinson (6:04:21), Travis Wood (6:15:20), Gavin Forbes (6:17:02) and Sharon Sharples (6:21:01).
Once again, the Teignbridge Trotters pulled together a vast team to ensure that the event was conducted safely and smoothly. Around 150 people contributed a wide range of skills, including marshalling, timekeeping and catering. The Dawlish Coasters provided generous marshalling support. The Dartmoor Radio Club, a2e Medical Services and Divine Sound supplied specialist services.
This year’s sponsors were Sibelco, the Ilsington Country House Hotel and Empire Scaffold.
The Burrator 5k & 10k races took place on Sunday 6th June.
The route was a fast, almost flat course, consisting mainly of a tarmac surface. The start took place at the dam bridge close to the visitor centre. The runners ran one complete loop of the reservoir and then two thirds of a second loop, before finishing 300 yards short of the visitors centre. The race is becoming ever popular, due to the stunning location and the two fun runs for the kids, giving the whole family a chance to compete. The 5k event is a new addition for 2021.
Carl Bennett made his racing debut as a Teignbridge Trotter on his birthday. This was his first competitive 10k for six years! Carl competed the test in 00:45:07. A brilliant first run for the Club.
Brian Lewis & Darren Petch took part in the Conquer 24 series of trail races organised by Warrior Chimps on Saturday 5th June.
The Conquer 24 was a 24 hour race which could be run solo or as a team. There were also day and night 5 and 10 mile races on offer.
All the races took place in the beautiful grounds of Powderham Castle, with magnificent views of the River Exe.
Brian opted for the day 5 miler for his first race as a Trotter. The multi-terrain route followed trails up to the Belvedere, through the deer park before running through the courtyard of the castle. Brian ran superbly well to finish in 2nd place in a great time of 00:39:01.
Darren Petch competed in the night 10 miler, a gruelling two lap race within the grounds of the estate. Darren clocked a time of 02:40:10 to finish in 3rd place.