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Ivybridge Three Tops – Race Report

Firstly huge thanks to Chris and Becky Prall, and the rest of the team at Erme Valley Harriers for putting on the Ivybridge Three Tops. Setting up fell races requires a lot of paperwork and diplomacy, especially when it comes to land permissions, and Chris and team had done an excellent job. Plus a personal thanks for timing it themselves, which meant I could run.

A tight start diagonally on the lower slopes of Western Beacon meant a bit of jostling for position on the start line in case overtaking opportunities were limited later on, however the track is easily wide enough that such worries were unfounded. The climb up to the top of Western Beacon is best viewed as a taste of things to come, however I quite enjoyed pushing myself up it (whilst occasionally hanging back to do the sensible thing and save a bit of energy). I can do uphills, but I am pants at descending and knew as soon as we got over the top of Western Beacon the majority of those behind me would fly past.

The descent off Western Beacon was quick, marked well but loose enough to allow some self selection of lines across the moor. The terrain suitably varied with a combination of smooth grass, rocks and gorse / bracken making line choice more important. Straight over the rocks or round to the side on the grass?

Another control point followed by a climb back up Weatherdon Hill leading to the Puffing Billy track – normally a point of drudgery to me when I am out by myself. However, in this case myself and another runner had been switching position back and forth for a while (I would pull ahead going uphill, and he would shoot past me downhill) so that kept things interesting. It was also the only chance I had to maintain my position before the inevitable downhill just South of Glasscombe Ball.

This descent is fast paced, again well marked but with a choice of lines with three runners overtaking me and jostling for position between themselves, and me clinging on to the back of the group as best I could. I briefly got ahead by picking a slightly different line which afforded easier running and then, with a quick “thankyou marshal” at Owley Corner it was back up to Ugborough Beacon. I would love to say I ran all the way up, but I didn’t.

The ascent varies in steepness, but is mostly on steep grass with the occasional bit of rock poking through. We were treated to decent weather and view across the South Hams, and the mist could be seen rolling into the valleys near the coast.

After passing the marshal atop Ugborough Beacon, the route continues in an almost direct line across to Western Beacon. This is a quick line, almost entirely smooth grass, minus a stream crossing. Really enjoyable running, and I even managed to overtake someone, an unexpected bonus.

After the final summit at Western Beacon (second visit) the route is all downhill, or is supposed to be. A quick descent, coupled with me being entirely in my own head meant I shot past a marshal and had to climb back up to make the turn – my error corrected by an extra uphill to put me back on track. Through the gate and onto a stoney track, the sudden change in terrain requires a bit of concentration before the tarmac run in to the running club for water and flapjack.

Thankyou again to Chris and the team. Especially to all the marshals who stood out on the moor providing invaluable directions.

Junior Intercounties Devon team success

Report from David Lewis who supported our Devon juniors at Shropshire and did a fine job as Team Manager . All photos with permission.

Devon team in Shropshire

On Saturday 24th June a pioneering group of Devon and Cornwall juniors ran at the Inter-Counties Fell Running Championships in the picturesque Shropshire Hills at Church Stretton. With the team set up thanks to Hayley Ratcliff and Richard Best, it was great to see our young runners putting themselves up against some of the strongest fell runners in the country. With sixteen counties/regions represented and fell running clubs such as Ambleside and Rosendale, there was a real cultural mix of the fell running community present.

Early impact in first races

First off for Devon was Carys Woodhead in the U13 event. In her Bideford AAC light blue vest, she was the fifth girl to finish (15:51) having held second place for much of the 3km race, only overtaken on the final descents. There is a real skill to running down steep hills fast and staying upright!

In the U15 race, Erme Valley Harriers Luke Hayes came a tremendous 4th place in the boys (22:07), with Aiden Spinney of Okehampton AC finishing 32nd (26:58). In the girls event, which ran simultaneously, Elsie Goodspeed from the City of Plymouth AC came 10th (26:20) and Keira Spinney finished 37th (34:53).  All had good runs over the steep and undulating 5km course.

U17 Team Placing

The U17 race, over a tough 6.8km distance, saw Okehampton’s  Luke Stannus of Exeter Harriers finish in 7th place (33:05) looking really at home amongst experienced competition. Torbay’s duo of Harry Kendall and Gwilym Lewis, came 19th (38:58) and 25th (44:21) respectively, giving the U17 boys team a creditable fourth place amongst the counties. In the girls event, over the same distance, Chloe Clarke  from Cornwall AC came 6th (40:29) and Sophie Gilvear came 21st (49:38). Conditions were very hot by this point and with the demanding terrain, four of the starting runners did not finish indicating the degree of challenge for all involved.

Hot hot hot for U19’s

The final race of the day was the U19 over a gruelling 10km distance. Matthew Gilvear of Erme Valley Harriers really showcased Devon talent with an amazing 2nd place (43:14), whilst Tavistock AC’s Charlotte Walker finished in a strong 6th place (55:36) in the Ladies Race.  

Teamwork and experience

Everyone enjoyed the experience, which felt really friendly and supportive in a stunning part of the country.  All runners left Church Stretton keen to have more experiences like this, representing  their county with flying colours, and loving the stunning countryside that they ran through on the day.

The Devon team were placed as follows.

U15F       8th                U15M           7th

U17F       7th                U17M           4th

U19F       7th                U19M           6th 

Sw Fellrunners says

A superb result from all the runners and supporters , a huge journey but am sure ambition has been fuelled and another reminder that Fell running, is alive and well in the SW. Travel support is essential if you want to compete ‘up North’ but hopefully for the families involved a worthwhile trip. Thanks again to Hayley, David and all the parents.

Just a reminder ,that of course, the Dartmoor fell series provides regular junior races through to end of September. We may even be organising some ‘downhill running sesions!

See you on the hills


Series Results are on The Way!

It was great to see so many people running at the Summer Solstice Race, thanks to Colin for organising. Some of you were asking about the Buckland Bounder results and the series results.

Yes the Buckland Bounder did count and is part of the series, however I am currently doing a bit of manual processing of the results so it integrates into the series results. When this is done I will add them in, along with the most recent results from the Summer Solstice.

Apologies for the delay!

Langstone Photos and Series hots up!

well done to Dave Chanter for hosting the second race of the series. Please find below some images from below Cox tor. The race started after a slightly drawn out junior race- but all home safely in the end. A new course for the Seniors to cope with landowners request , but this added a bit more distance and another hill!.

It was hotly contested from the start with Rees and Deller level pegging. Sam managed to gain a lead by the last descent of about 40sec, but a race ain’t won until its won, an unfortunate mistake led Sam off the course – with Ceri not far behind sticking to the course and gaining his fist win in the series.

The course was dry and very hot, this did not deter Charlotte Walker (TAC) for her second win of the series leading from start to finish. Awesome.

Well done to all the runners juniors and seniors. Next race Buckland bounder on June 10th, Solstice on June 21st, And Burrator Horseshoe (25th) on June 24th.

Devon’s Tom secures GB team place

Tom Perry in Dark vest on way to secure 2nd place

Devon Junior runner

Last week was super busy with championship and qualifying races. Great to see that Devon was represented by Tom Perry ( was Exeter Harriers now Dark Peak Fell runners) in the World junior Mountain trials. An amazing result and i am sure Tom’s local local running family are well chuffed. Enough from me – this is what Tom thought..

Tom’s account

‘Last weekend, I raced the GB u20 mountain running trials in Ambleside, which was the selection for the World Mountain Running Championships which will be held in Innsbruck, Austria in early June. 

The race started fast, with a very strong field lined up (this race as well as being a GB/England Trial, was also an FRA junior race!). The course started in Rothay Park and winded up a steep road before heading up onto the fell. I got to the top of the first part of the climb in 5th place, feeling reasonably strong having tried to hold back a little on the climb. The course then followed an undulating track for around a kilometre before a short scramble and then we hit the final part of the climb up to the summit. I got to the top in 4th place, feeling a bit in the red zone, but confident that I could make up some ground on the descent. Off the summit I immediately moved into 3rd and had 2nd in my sights. After the initial steep part of descent, the course then followed another undulating track interspersed with a few bogs and stiles which was quite energy sapping late into the race. Just before the final steep descent back into Rothay Park I managed to overtake 2nd place and moved into an auto qualifying spot for Worlds. I pushed hard on the descent and was gaining on first but the finish came too soon! 

It felt amazing at the finish, having finished in 2nd, and knowing I’d secured my spot for the World Championships in Austria, where I’ll be racing in U20 ‘up & down’ race on the 10th June. Achieving a GB vest in mountain running has been a dream of mine almost since I started running in the hills, so it feels incredible to achieve it in my final year as u20!

Close finish

The results show how fierce this competition was. Well done Tom! It really great to see the a local runner that has supported events from athletics, cross country, to Dartmoor Runners , to orienteering and of course the Dartmoor fell series. Get such an amazing result. Take note SW Juniors over the years we have produced some excellent international mountain runners.

Some of our local juniors are off to Shropshire on June 24th to take part in the junior Intercounties – good luck. And another big well done to Tom and family.

See you on the hills – Richard Best

So what’s the connection?

Well lots of you will have worked it out these are the majority of this years Dartmoor Fell series Race organisers. On race day they will be incredibly busy people so I thought I would go and get some of their views on the series and fell running. A couple more still to make a contribution but i am sure will offer some great insights.

This years newest race

So first up a big welcome to Jan Moore ( top right) for our newest race added to the series – ‘ I am Race Director for the Buckland Bounder which started in 2016, with help from a great team of people. The idea was to bring in more people to the summer fair. It has inspired many people from the village to enter it and it’s a great atmosphere at the finish when runners join in the festivities. ‘

What Jan failed to add is that she also contributes to marshalling at many events, this year the Buckland Bounder is June 10th, please support and of course, senior finishers get a of beer! See race calendar for details.

Hottest race of the year

So next in clockwise direction is Chris Prall from Erme Valley Harriers who added a new race last year. What does Chris like about Fell Running?

‘ I love the low-key, non-commercial aspect to the sport, its only about one thing – trying your best on a challenging route, and usually (if you can find time to look) there are some awesome views. Its competitive but there is also great camaraderie.’

What do I get out of being a Race Organiser?

‘My first race as Race Organiser was last year in the new race Ivybridge 3 Tops, put on by Erme Valley Harriers. It was one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done. Chatting to the runners after the finish, where everyone pretty much collapsed on the grass at the Ivybridge Rugby Club I could tell it was as tough to race as I’d hoped when I’d finally fixed the route. But everyone seemed to have loved the challenge in the spirit of Fell Running. It was also satisfying to put on junior routes as well to encourage the youngsters into a great sport – I wish I’d started Fell Running as a junior! Thanks’

A big thank you back to Chris and EVH and I am sure people are looking forward to the great evening race again. on August 9th, yep and juniors check out events or EVH site.

Yes all the way up there!

This was the only picture I had of Rees Jenkins who kindly took over the organisation of the Great Links Tor Flyer , this year, surely one of the most scenic and spectacular evening courses. Some previous quotes from Rees – he enjoys the camaraderie and simple , straight forward arrangements and of course maybe a ‘wet’ after.

A big thank you to Rees and his team of helpers I am sure he has this year well organised look forward to it on Aug 23rd. yes juniors too.

Changing how we get Results

Check out tim’s tips below on recording and timing, Tim Mockford has been at the centre of SWfellrunners since it started. I asked Tim to tell us a bit more about the race timing that he does and supports so amazingly. He has done so in following article – it’s got great detail but what he doesn’t say is how calm . dedicated and well prepped he is to help make race organisation on the day so much more efficient! Thank you

Tim on Timing!

Fell race timing is much the same as timing any other race, except that the locations and weather have a tendency to be more challenging. The main factor when deciding how to time a fell race is finish line density, and whether intimidate check points are required. For straight forward, finish line only timing the options are usually some form of chip timing, or manual timing or a hybrid.

Chip timing for fell racing tends to take one of two forms, UHF RFID or sportident, however it will be interesting to see how bluetooth timing develops and whether this takes off in fell running. It has an advantage over UHF RFID and sportident in allowing contactless intermediate checkpoints with very little in bulky kit and each marshal can be a checkpoint just by having a mobile phone on them.

Manual timing is an art form, and I am in awe of those who either individually or in teams manage to do the impossible and record numbers and times without becoming flustered. The downside being that either the time required to process results or the increased team size needed for rapid results processing.

Hybrid is my preferred way of timing start/finish only fell races as it keeps costs low, gives many of the benefits of chip timing but with considerably less expense and kit to lug around. This method consists of an app (Webscorer being one of the most common, but others are out there) on which the timer “ticks off” runners as they pass the finish. Runners and organisers have instant results, and (in theory at least) any errors can be swiftly remedied.

Lastly, two essential additions for fell race timing have been an extra person to chase that runner who crossed the line with their number lost on the hill / in their car / under their jacket, and a GoPro setup to record the finish, for when either technology or human failure or error occurs.

A huge thanks to Tim for opening my eyes to ‘tech’ really making it better for organisers, showing me a better way and speeding results for runners. Bravo

A Running career

Last year Dave Chanter very kindly added a new local race ‘Langstone fell race‘ a superb village based course. This year on May 27th at 4Pm and has juniors. So here are Dave’s thoughts .

‘The morning after the race is always a bit of an anti-climax. No more course recces, no more worrying about volunteer helpers, no more medals and trophies and numbers to buy, no more last-minute details to attend to. What happens is you have the crescendo and then its over, you have lost your desire to create the best event that you can. For me as a race organiser there’s probably more joy in seeking than attaining.

Why go through all the ups and downs with all the effort it took to share all your excitement and love of running with others? Is it a quest for kudos or is it a genuine desire to put back into running what it has given to you over the years as an athlete. As I finalise the preparation for the upcoming Langstone Fell Race before looking forward to organising my 20th Peter Tavy Plod later in the year I believe and hope that it is the latter.’

It is really great to be able to have an organiser with such an athletics pedigree , founder of TRP, England Athletics Endurance group coach and a stack of qualifications. Thanks for embracing the series and getting what runners want.

The biggest race

We have included the Haytor Heller in the series and although it is now not the longest or the most height gain it is certainly the most popular and challenging. Please meet Bon Rymel who i must say looks way too relaxed as Race Director for Teignbridge Trotters.

A few words from Bon on what it’s like organising a fell race. “Where to start, my love of running just makes organising this event more of a hobby as opposed to a chore. When you go to races and keep seeing the same faces and the sense of community, it really does make it all worthwhile. This year has been challenging as all races seem to be down on numbers from previous years, I guess the cost of living is having an affect in all areas” What I love about running “That’s a tough one to answer, I love the feeling I get when I run, I love the feeling I get after a shower after a run, and what I love the most is that I can eat what I want and not have to worry about counting calories, haha”

Thanks Bon for a huge team effort putting the largest field of the series, sounds like also eating the most calories and i am sure there will be huge interest in this years event on July 15th.

Mr Running…

Well with Tim and myself, Colin Kirk Potter has been central to establishing the Dartmoor Fell series and SW Fellrunning. Colin is Race organiser for Summer Solstice on June 21st and the Postbridge Pootle on July 27th – when not organisers all the adventures for Run Venture . A few wise words from Colin.

‘Running is a broad church and fell running is just another aspect of running. It’s less about fast metronomic cadence and more about route choice, the ability to climb and more importantly; descend over rough ground. It’s less of a race against each other and more a race against nature which means it’s more inclusive as winning is less important. It’s not for everyone but suits a different crowd.

Putting on events on Dartmoor means I get to share my passion for running in the National park. The lack of medals, road closure costs and general nonsense that often engulfs major events means there is less pressure on organisers to charge high entry fees, and means the focus is more in just running in open spaces for fun!’.

A big thank you to Colin and all the support he gives and musters. Hope people have seen his up and coming talk on the Bob Graham Round if not check out Run Venture site and also check out his new book!

But that’s not all

So we also have Ian Ripper from Okehampton Running Club organising the Cosdon beacon race on July 9th ( careful limited entries 50 – so be quick) note they also have 3 other races not in the series- they are great too!.

We are also still trying to organise an away race on – in Kernow as part of series. ( because its a great course, and we have a great travelling Cornish contingent) . so keep your eyes peeled for our Sept 16th event.

I would also like to put a shout out to Ceri Rees who has helped with Yar tor race and competing and building the ‘wild running community’. We do like to switch races around in the series to keep it fresh.

Its the runners and the hills

So lastly me Richard Best , top left. Most will know when I have had a hand in a new course like the recent Meldon Skyline, always trying to give a great view, challenging route that involves navigation choice but most of all creating a relaxed enjoyable supportive feel to to the atmosphere of the day. I get a real buzz seeing the growing community, especially the strength of juniors ( hats off to a few clubs especially ORC) and seeing people learn about safe enjoyable running in the hills and meeting their own challenges.

My next 2 events are Burrator Horseshoe June 24th ( has juniors), this is the 25th year for this event and of course the series finale based at Belstone – East Mill tor Loop on Sept 30th ( has Juniors).

oh – Just a shout out still looking for Marshals ( they are like gold dust to us organisers for Burrator please get in touch)

I hope you have got a better idea of who are behind the races. A big thank you to the time they give to help build our community of competitive/ friendly hill running. If you can please support by running or helping for a few hours.

See you on the hills

Richard Best

Speedy Men’s Intercounties Fell Championships

Sam in action In Snowdonia last year

busy weekend for fell running

Well there was a little bit of stuff going on this weekend including so many fell trial races, junior uphill, world junior selection and the intercounties at Sedbergh. Despite us having a very well supported Devon trial on the day we only had a solo runner in the men’s race. The course although not too technical is steep and super fast and 14k and 700+ m of climb with kit!

All credit to Sam Deller , who won the Devon champs and has been a keen supporter of the Dartmoor fell series, for a sterling performance in a top class field which also featured teams from NI, Scotland and Wales.

Sam’s account

Standing behind the calibre of Fell runners at the inter-counties this year was sure to make the 1100ft climb in front of us become a mammoth of a challenge, the pace was blistering from the offset. Taking on Arant Haw at 606 metres followed by a steep ramp up to Winder at 473 metres. The descent of Winder could easily be described as one for track runners, it was by no means technical meaning that you could go that much faster. My legs allowed me to cover 0.90 of a mile in 4 minutes & 50 seconds, only to later read that first place ran the same descent in 3 minutes & 59 seconds. Speed kills. After the descent I was more than happy for the race to finish – it did not. The death march began as I went for the second loop. To see men on all fours as their bodies no longer allowed them to climb the second time around set a scene of chaos that un-folded out there. It was a great race & all of the support was fantastic on the day. 28th out of 91 males will do this time around.’


The impact of the laps at the intercounties are legendary as the pace is so intense. Plus although we have hills to be proud of – the length of climbs and gradients of descent will really test local training. A super result well done Sam.!

See you dashing around in the series!