A new race is always more exciting and the Haldon Heartbeat 8-mile trail race through Haldon Forest near Exeter did not disappoint after the anticipation.
Maggie, Mark Nicole and Guy ran into the unknown on a hot
day expecting cool gladed forest runs. But there was little shade on the firm tracks.
We started interestingly at a canter in the open sun with a lap round Exeter Race Course (on the spectators path) which acted an effective warm-up.
From then on we were on easily negotiated wide dry tracks which were largely undemanding until about half way when the route became hilly. The sun then decided to turn up the heat on the longest hill which did add to the draining effort needed.
An eight-mile run is fairly unusual and was designed by Haldon Trail Runners Club. It is probably equivalent in effort to a nine-mile race on road and it helped that it was dry underfoot.
Out of 182 finishers Guy was 24th in 59 min, Mark 122nd in 1hour 11min, Maggie 157th in 1hour 16min and Nicole 205th in 1hour 24min.
Maggie was especially pleased as she had not raced for a long time and was second in her age group - very good for her confidence. Nicole is new to racing and was also happy with her time while Mark was surprised how well he did.
This is a relatively undemanding course compared with some trail or off-road runs and therefore, a good introduction for those who are nervous of running off roads. It is also well organised with a good technical
running shirt as reward and refreshments (inc home made cakes) at the race course bar. The only glitch was rationing of water at the finish when they ran out (temporarily). This afternoon race is also easily reached and close by Plymouth on the A38. May be more Musketeers will enter next year.