The East Devon Round combines a load of my favourite runs in the area. It has the core ethos of being a race organised by a runner for runners, and as much as being an incredible challenge, also an opportunity to showcase the best of the local area and meet like-minded folk over a weekend of beer, camping, pizza and cake.
In the entry form you will be asked what food or drink you would love to see at the checkpoints – I will do my up most to accommodate these requests, with exception of champagne and caviar.
All prizes and spot prizes are donated from local companies, with most being from food and drink producers we pass on the route.
We will strongly be relying on volunteers from Honiton Running Club, Combe Raleigh Little Critters, Rod and Ben's Organic Food and Offwell Village Primary School. However I will need more volunteers - My offer to all you lovely people is - If anyone could volunteer this year, they will have Free Entry next year. To be eligible for this, I will need people to volunteer on Friday and Saturday or Saturday and Sunday. I appreciate this is a big ask!
All competitors will be asked to bring a reusable plastic cup such as a Hydrapak Speedcup rather than using rows and rows of plastic cups at aid stations.
'WHY WE DO IT?'
Reflections from the Cape Wrath Ultra
WATCH THE FILM OF RUNNING NORTH – A NEW FILM ABOUT THE CAPE WRATH ULTRA® FROM STEVE ASHWORTH MEDIA IN ASSOCIATION WITH SUMMIT FEVER MEDIA AND OUREA EVENTS.
A recent finisher of the Cape Wrath Ultra, race director Alasdair Moffett ponders why we run for days on end.
Day 7 of the Cape Wrath Ultra; around 10 miles to go of the day’s 38 miles and more importantly only 6 miles until I hit the road linking Rhiconich and Kinlochbervie. I have visualised turning onto this road for over a year. For what follows is 4 miles of road and a final day of 16 miles to the lighthouse and I will have completed the Cape Wrath Ultra. If I get this far, I know I will have cracked it. The months of not having a clue whether I have it in me to complete and compete in this 8 day race.
So at this precise moment, what do I find myself asking? Why do it? What’s the point? Why don’t I just walk? I have proven I can do it, so do I really need to go through with the next day and a bit?
Considering at the time I didn’t exactly have a solid answer, I figured best to place those thoughts firmly in the ‘to be contemplated at a later date’ section of my brain, and carry on with the same grit and determination as I had up to that point.
Coming to the road shortly after (shortly becomes relative when you run day after day for anything between 6-10 hours), I see Tom, a mate who has travelled the length of the UK to support me, and necking two cans of coke purchased from the pub from a barmaid that looks like she belongs in an episode of ‘Shameless’, I feel flipping fantastic. Yes, the legs are still tired, the feet achy and the head and shoulders turning a gentle crimson in the sun, but I feel like I could go on forever. For so long prior to the race, and during the previous 7 days of running the 200 odd miles, my singular aim has been getting from start to finish as quickly as my mind and body would take me. Nothing else mattered.
In that moment, the pure joy of completing and competing, never doubting oneself, and always pushing the envelope on what is achievable day in day out. Not knowing how best to cope with the wave of relief, elation and tiredness that flooded over me, I let out a guttural roar. And continued to do so for the following mile or so along the road. The tears rolled down the cheeks, the legs had a semi-new lease of life, and the thought that I would be proud of my achievement for the rest of my life filled my thoughts. Twenty minutes later I jogged into the day’s finish quietly composed, just as if I had finished the local Parkrun. My wife remarked the same when spying a video of my arriving at the lighthouse the next day. My moment of elation had been, and it was all mine, not one that was to be shared. It had been on a random bit of beautiful coastal road, with only a few seagulls looking on.
After such an intense week of running or thinking about running, the week after was a struggle to compute; what had just happened? We had camped, had very intermittent contact with the outside world, barely been able to sleep and bonded with our fellow runners. That was now over. I had longed to pick up my beautiful daughter and hold my wife close, but you are left wondering, did that really happen? There is also a part of you that would love to be back out there, akin to what explorers and mountaineers talk about upon returning home from expeditions. To be fair, I genuinely thought I had lost it when I saw a man with a donkey (called Martin) wondering across the tussock peat ground a few miles from the lighthouse on the final day.
Still, I needed to find an answer to why do it in the first place. Although people will happily support you, they don’t understand why you would run a silly distance through North West Scotland and would also tell you it is not healthy for your body. And considering it has absolutely zero benefit to any others, it is also 100% selfish (perhaps I wouldn’t quite go to the extremes of my father in law, who thinks you are likely to die in the process of running for that long.)
Perhaps I was lucky, and trust me, I was happy to see that blooming lighthouse on that Sunday (particularly after thinking I was closer than I actually was for a while) but actually my legs felt alright. Alright I was thoroughly over running, and was keen on pigging out on a random selection of foods, but I was still very much in one piece. Ok in the week following I continued to lose weight, having only gone from 86.6kgs to 85.5kgs during the week of running, the first week back I continued to lose kilo after kilo and by the Friday (5 days post finishing), I was touching the 80kgs mark. The night time (or any other time I could get away with dozing) sweats continued, with our bed, the spare bed and our sofa receiving an excessive amount of moisture that week. Gone was the slightly fluid look to my belly post running, and within a week my feet now began to fit in other shoes apart from the eye candy that are crocs.
Why had I felt ok; was it my familiarity of Scottish hills, or maybe my new found running poles, or even my haphazard training approach. I certainly felt throughout that my entire running career up to this point, from my first 10k at 16, my first marathon at 21, and all the various longer races that had all got me to this point. This race felt a natural progression in my running journey. It leaves me wondering, am I merely reverting back to what we are evolutionally designed to do? Undoubtedly it has more similarity with our ancestors than working in offices, flying in planes, and looking at computer screens for a living. Are we looking for something that previous generations didn’t need to; is modern life too easy that we need to make it harder?
With some exceptions, if the competitors passed you in the street, and weren’t clad in sporting lycra attire (they’re not triathletes!) you would be none the wiser that they were the sort of folk who would run 260 miles. Is that because with increasing distance, raw talent becomes less important but mental tenacity comes to the fore? Yet there was plenty running talent on show here.
For the majority of runners present, with the exception of a lot of medics, I wouldn’t have a clue what their 9-5 was. What was it about the doctors? Is it the same highly motivated streak that drives them to become top of their game professionally, that also leads them to run these sorts of races. Yes, there was some evidence of the addictive personalities, where running may have replaced other recreational activities in their life, but this seems an over simplification in an explanation to why we run. And at what stage
What unites people in wanting to put themselves through this sort of race? Are we looking for something that we can’t achieve in our everyday lives? Is it the thrill of the unknown in terms of achievability, and on the flipside the enormous confidence gained from completing such a challenge? Is it that such prolonged exercise produces maximal serotonin levels in our brains which give an unparalleled inner contentment?
Why would some people sign up to do the same distance on a canal tow path, whilst others (myself included) are drawn in by the scenery of Scotland. Having run only a mile of this race on sand, and also been able to stop nearly anywhere to fill my water bottle, I have firmly parked any ideas of a certain multi-stage desert race!
As is common to so much in life, the answer probably lies in a multitude of reasons. I have come to realise that I run mostly for the mental benefits rather than the physical. It also provides me with an innate arrogance that I can achieve most things in life if I pursue them hard enough. Ian McGeechan talks about ‘just a look’ between fellow teammates in ten, twenty, thirty years time that gives an understanding, and having shared such an experience with kindred folk, I would happily say we will always have a deep rapport with those that we ate, slept, laughed, cried with over the 8 days. All bravado is out the window, and we are all stripped back to our bare selves. A race like this not only lets you see the best of a country, but also the best in its competitors.
Coast Path Friendly Activities
At 630 miles, the South West Coast Path is England's longest National Trail. Widely considered one of the best and most dramatic trails in the world, the cumulative ascent of the whole Path is equalivent to scaling Everest four times. It's no wonder so many events and tours choose the Coast Path as the stage for their adventures.
The East Devon Round traverses one of the greenest and lushest section of the entire coast path, taking in the notorious 'Undercliffs' section with all its hundreds of steps. This section has had to be repaired of late due to the landslip above Goat Island, and only re-opened again in 2018.
By pledging to give a contribution of just £1* per participant towards the work of caring for the National Trail we at the East Devon Round hope we are helping, in our own small way, secure a sustainable future for both the National Trail and all those events that use the trail.
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”