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Dartmoor Discovery – 32 miles – 1st June 2013

Iain Donnelly reports from this chin-scraper

This is a popular run with a number of loyal marathon runners choosing it to do their 100th marathon. Personally l do not know why l ran it! My training is generally limited to a few seven mile runs per week, my new job has taken a lot of time and energy away from any sort of ‘training plan’. On this basis l chose to approach the 32 miles by breaking it down into 4 x 7 miles with a nice little four mile trot to finish. This plan very nearly worked….

As you drive towards the race headquarters at Princetown across Dartmoor you need to ensure you do not completely freak out at the size of the hills, especially when you realise you are driving on the race route. The next challenge at the beginning of the race is to try and run ‘slowly’, this is not as simple as it sounds with the body packed full of fuel and adrenalin.

One of the things you discover about the ‘Discovery’ is there are no flat bits, the first five miles downhill (nice) followed by an uphill section at Dartmeet. You have to be careful not to scrape your chin on the steep road as you run/walk up to the peak. Once you have run down to Ashburton completing the first 14 miles you are aware you have done the easy bit. The following 10 miles up through Buckland and Widecombe help you to realise why this race is a ‘discovery’.

The scenery and history of the moors reach your senses as you run, also as you run, the mileage and hills eat away at your energy levels. Finally, Dartmoor even on a nice day reminds you to show respect. You need to listen to your body as you reach the marathon point of the race… you still have six miles to go. This final stretch is across the most exposed area, you are very tired at this point and the wind talks to you as you run!

Each mile at this point is a personal friend or a dangerous enemy depending on how you feel. The final mile up into Princetown begins with another ‘chin scraping’ hill before finishing at the Plume of Feathers pub. The organisers put on a runners’ disco at the pub later in the evening, l cannot even imagine how my Dad dancing would look after the battering my legs have just experienced.

WACers have won awards at the Dartmoor Discovery in the recent past, my award was to discover l could run this very special Ultra.

88th out of 225, 5 hrs 34 min.

 Iain Donnelly


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