Voted one of the hardest ultra races in the country, this epic challenge has it all! Coastal path, woodland valleys and some of the most stunning scenery anyone could would wish for.
Described online as “brutal” and “strenuous” this ultra is not for the faint hearted. 30 miles covering 1710m of elevation (Walk the Wight is “only” 787m by comparison), including the sharpest coastal hill climb in the entire country. One might think that it is for the seasoned ultra runner only.
Enter our own pocket rocket Lou Howell. Picking this as her ultra running debut, our diminutive dynamo was trepidatious
“I was super nervous beforehand…. I knew Exmoor was going to be a challenge!”
Starting and finishing at Cloud Farm near Lynton, the course takes the runners South following the Badgeworthy Water across the moorland before crossing the River Exe and before turning North to follow the Hoaroak Water.
“It was brutal running the hills and marshes, but it was probably the most beautiful run because of the views of the hills and the coast”
Onward our little luminary went toward Bridge Ball and the 13 mile mark. It was here that Lou along with around 70% of the field was directed the wrong way. This meant she and many others missed out a 3 mile loop out toward Lynmouth. However she was unaware of this at the time and she continued to the coast and the steep coastal climb. Lou then followed the South West Coast Path toward Culbone (which incidentally is the longest stretch of wooded coastland in the UK), where she made the turn for home and the final 5 miles of the challenge.
It was here that the newlywed’s husband Tim was on route and the discrepancy about the distance became apparent.
“Tim was at 27 miles, but my watch was saying 24.5! It was amazing seeing him there but I got really confused about the distance”
But she collected her thoughts and regained her focus to get the last 3 miles run with the determination she always shows and crossed the finishline back at Cloud Farm with a smile on her face.
“It was brilliant as there was no pressure, more of a social race really and people were super supportive! I loved it! It was an amazing experience. I was a little deflated to discover I hadn’t run the full 30 miles but on the upside it was stunning but probably my toughest run at the same time”
I think it is suffice to say that the short measured course has only put fire in the belly of our resolute firecracker to find another race and crack that 30 mile distance.
“I will now try and find another for the new year”