By Katie Cormier
„You’re doing WHAT?“ said all my friends and anyone else I told, that I was planning to run 54km across Dartmoor during one of the hottest summers on record in the UK!!
Dartmoor is a notoriously wild and baron landscape, offering stunning views across the beautiful south Devon countryside. But with little to no trees offering very little shade from the relentless sun, this was going to be a bit more of a challenge than I had originally thought. Normally you can rely on England to provide a bit of drizzle, mist, wind or rain from the side to make your runs a bit more interesting, but this year there was not a cloud to be seen in the sky and hadn’t been for the 6 weeks prior to this race. This of course had the advantage of making an otherwise boggy moorland, extremely dry underfoot and much more runnable than in previous years.
I was really not sure whether I should tackle this race at all, as I was not fully fit after contracting the dreaded Covid virus about 6 weeks before the race. But being extremely stubborn by nature, and maybe slightly stupid, I decided to give it a go along with about 100 other hopeful and slightly mad British runners!
Within the first 18km, which included almost 800m of ascent over uneven grassy hillocks, I already noticed my muscles were tired and I didn’t have the power and bounce I would have liked in my legs, but I enjoyed the trails and the scenery and chatting to lots of other friendly runners along the way.
I arrived well inside the cut off time at the first aid station where I met up with Seb and enjoyed a welcome dip in a stream. I plodded onwards and enjoyed a fairly runnable section up to the next aid station at 25km.
After this I started to walk more than run, I felt completely drained and was seriously considering dropping out of the race at 31km. However, and I think luckily, Seb didn’t make it to this aid station, otherwise I think I would have hopped in the car and called it a day. Seeing as how this wasn’t an option, I decided to continue.
The route continued over gently undulating moorland, over many little streams, past sheep, cows and wild ponies, all peacefully grazing at the side of the trail. Somewhere around about 40 km I ran out of water and had a bit of a melt down on the side of the trail. Luckily, a friendly runner passed me and gave me some of his water which kept me going to the next aid station at about 45km. Here I took my time to eat and drink and gather my strength to continue on for the last 9km, most of which were on very runnable tracks and slightly downhill. As I left the aid station, I turned a corner and saw a very welcome face coming towards me. Seb had hiked 8km up the trail, to run/jog/walk/stumble the last 8km into the finish line with me. My hero!!
I crossed the finish line in a time of 7 hours and 55 minutes and was astounded to discover I was 11th female out of 23. Not too bad all things considered!! In total, I was 40th of only 68 people to cross the finish line this year. This was definitely a tough race for me, both mentally and physically, so I was extremely happy and proud to finish it. Thank you Seb for your support as always.