Kirsty raves about the Dartmoor Discovery 2012
I'd heard so many great things about the Dartmoor Discovery that I decided to run it this year and it didn't disappoint. There are a lot of things to love about this race, and if you like your races long and evil, you should give it a go.
The 'DD' is a 32 mile ultra, run (on road) in the Dartmoor National Park. It has a small field, capped at 225 runners, which makes it quite a well-kept secret, and also means that the start is a nice relaxed, low key affair. Before the event you receive an incredibly professional magazine with all the details about race day, advice from DD veterans, interviews and articles. This is the first of many really nice touches which make you feel like you're joining an exclusive club by running it.
Another nice touch is that you can drop bottles with your race numbers at registration, which will then be taken to the water points on the course. These water points were so slick that by the time you got to the water point a marshal had shouted your number ahead to the water station, who have your bottle ready and waiting for you. This is probably about as close to an elite athlete water station as I'm ever going to get.
Photos © Pete Aylward
After a week of very rainy and windy weather it was a bit of a relief to find blue skies on race day. Although the fact that by the time I got from my hotel to the start (12 miles away) these skies had gone grey was a reminder that the weather on Dartmoor can turn very quickly. This race, despite being in June, has been run in everything from extreme heat to freezing rain, so the elements aren't to be messed with.
The course profile in the DD information looks like a pleasantly undulating Sunday jog. But let me tell you, these people are masters of elevation deception. After a few miles of mostly downhill which lull you in a false sense of security, they hit you with a long 20% hill at 10k. And from there on in it was pretty much painful slogs uphill followed by downhills which made it feel like your knees were on fire. But the Dartmoor scenery was incredible, and every hill just gave you a better view than the one before. Despite being in the middle of the moors the support was fantastic, and I kept seeing the same people over and over again, who were driving the course to support their clubmates. Special mention must go to Tamar Trotters, who adopted me for the day as I was a long way from home. Over and over again they drove by, offering me support, drinks and jelly babies and then I'd see them stop the car ahead, erect the Tamar Trotters flag, get the music on and wait to cheer on all their runners. If they are ever in my part of the world I will gladly return the favour as it made a big difference to me.
The miles really ticked by quickly on this race as there was a lot to distract you. There were inspiring people to chat to the whole way along, there were Dartmoor ponies (and yaks – I think these were real and not a hallucination), and the marshals were incredibly encouraging. It all felt pretty comfortable for me until the last couple of miles when the mix of cold rain and some nasty hills made it suddenly seem a bit of a struggle. But soon enough, well after 4 hours and 50 minutes, I was approaching the finish and it was a really good feeling. At the finish line the race director congratulated every runner, then passed you over to a lovely team of people who sit you down in a tent, give you a blanket and then offer you every type of hot and cold drink, cake, sandwich, chocolate bar you can imagine. They couldn't possibly have looked after me any better before, during, or after the race and the organisers, the Teignbridge Trotters, deserve a massive amount of credit. The excellent technical t-shirt and weighty medal were also nice touches which will be a great memento. I like a race t-shirt you really have to earn. This is a phenomenal race and one I'd highly recommend to any runner.
Photos © Pete Aylward
||Truro Running Club
|| Ellie Sutcliffe
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I’d describe myself as borderline obsessed with running, racing, reading about running, and watching others run so hopefully I’m fairly typical of Run247’s visitors. I tend to do longer races, particularly off-road marathons and ultras, but am pretty much a fan of any distance. The thing I get the biggest kick out of is being involved in my running club, Didcot Runners, encouraging people to get into running through a group I have in Oxford, and coaching runners to improve.