The highlight event of the Cornish weekend was the inaugural running of The Dark, a fourteen mile two lapped race around Cardinham Woods in, erm, the dark. The weather held, mercifully, for the 238 who completed the race, which boasted over 1,000ft of ascent per lap of the Bodmin Beast mountain bike trail.
Participants were treated to three river crossings, one within yards of the start to weigh the feet down for a mile or so of steady uphill climbing on fire trails before heading off onto seemingly endless switchbacks. Designed for mountain bikes, the downhills were full of bumps and bends and berms, with very little opportunity to build enough momentum to regain the time lost on the uphills. Passing was difficult too in places, leading to either frustrating hold-ups or welcome forced recoveries, depending on the state of your lungs or legs. We were very much in the latter camp, and glad of the respite at times.
The course was well marked and marshaled and full of surprises; there were numerous sightings of the beast of Bodmin, which added some adrenaline to the legs! The sight of light trails in every direction was a treat for runner and spectator alike. Being a lapped course, runners got a boost from running through race HQ before heading off into the dark again. After another round of leg-sapping switchbacks, a third river crossing set runners up for the final straight and some well-deserved hot food.
The men’s race was won by Michael Robinson (Tamar Trotters) with last week’s Falmouth Half winner Mike Birchmore (Newquay) in second, and Nick Lowendhahl (St Austell) in third. Jaz Finney (Bude Rats) won the ladies race, with Jenna Murphy (St Austell) in second, and Kensa Rescorla in third, meaning that she did got to take home one of her own hand-crafted trophies!
Further afield, the Jurassic Coastal Challenge was run over three days, with a marathon being covered each day, on the tough hilly coast paths. Robert Grover won each day outright for a combined total time of 11:58:40. Adam Holland of host team VO2 came second on days two and three to overtake day one’s runner-up Ammon Piepgrass (Harpenden Arrows) to finish with very close cumulative times of 12:42:14 and 12:53:51 respectively.
In the ladies race, Mud Crew Ultra Team runner Nicky Taylor won the ladies race each day for an unassailable overall win, an effort that included two top ten finishes overall for a combined time of 14:08:41. Subject to confirmation, Sarah Jackson (Serpentine RC) and Karen Weir (Ranelagh Harriers) rounded out the ladies podium with combined times of 16:11:39 and 16:14:02 respectively.
In Nottingham, veteran Miranda Heathcote (Newquay & Par AC) finished second in the Home Countries International Cross Country Championships on Saturday. Finishing second to Catherine Blew, she led the England team to victory, completing the 8k course in 28:27. For more on Miranda’s result see our earlier article here.
The Dark (.xls)
Jurassic Coastal Challenge (.xls)