On Sunday 8th April one of the toughest and most picturesque running challenges of the year will take place. This ‘Brute of a Race’ starts in Exmouth and follows the beautiful Jurassic Coast section of the South West footpath eastward for 22 miles taking in Budleigh, Sidmouth Branscombe and Beer before finally arriving at the River Axe in Seaton.
As well as spectacular scenery runners are treated to over 4,000ft of ascent with numerous climbs as the trail switchbacks down to sea level and then up again along clifftop tracks through fields and woodland. The cliffs turn from red at Exmouth’s Orcombe Point to white at Beer Head, with beaches starting sandy and ending pebbly as runners head East along this iconic coastline.
This is truly a tough challenge, attracting runners from across the UK, many keen to test it against ‘The Grizzly’, which takes place the month before. Those who have completed both races know which hurts the most. Whilst the Grizzly may offer bogs and pebble beaches, the Exe to Axe offers climbs that make the legs scream and views that make the spirits soar.
‘It’s a race of highs and lows’ said organizer Paul Mitchell ‘and I’m not just talking about the landscape’. The first half of the run to Sidmouth eases competitors into the task with just the small matter of High Peak (515ft) and Peak Hill (512ft) to deal with. ‘We provide refreshments at Sidmouth to prepare them for second section’ grins Paul, ‘from Sidmouth to Seaton….well let’s just say it’s not for the unfit or fainthearted’.
Last year 275 competitors started the race and around 50 elected to run just the first half. This year the relay option for teams of 2-4 and an early start option for those who expect to take longer increases accessibility. ‘The winner managed it in under 3 hours last year’ said Paul ‘he was awesome. Some of the runners from our host club, Sidmouth, took over 5 hours – and they were awesome too!’
More detail and entry is via www.sientries.co.uk or www.sidmouthrunningclub.co.uk.