Charmouth Challenge – 3 July 2010

Lesley Pymm reports from the “most southerly fell race in England”.

Last time I did this run was two years ago – my brother had the audacity to get married last 4 July in Yorkshire, so I had to give it a miss. The weather in 2008 was dreadful – very wet and windy – and it was totally different this year. The sun blazed down and there was a gentle breeze.

The run is about 8.25 miles – it was a little longer this year as some of the coast path had crumbled recently following the bad weather in the winter – so we had to come inland slightly as we approached Charmouth on the return. It is billed as the most southerly fell race in Britain and includes an ascent of Golden Cap at 191m.

It starts off on road and there is a swift 1/2 mile through Charmouth before we hit Stonebarrow Hill. Still on road we climb for about 1 mile over 120m. The next mile is on stone tracks where we continued to climb another 60m to the top of Chardown Hill. It was about here where a woman I was running close to said ‘Isn’t that a fantastic view?’ as she looked out towards the highest point – then the penny dropped and she said (with some trepidation) ‘Is that where we’re going?’ Having agreed that it was, I advised her to keep something back for the big climb!

There was then a good downhill section taking us to 3 miles, followed by a flattish bit over stiles and a boggy bit – after that I relaxed as that was the cut-off for slower runners who were to be redirected and I was through it in good time! We then ran through the woods, which offered a bit of shade before the start of the 140m climb to Golden Cap. Towards the top someone said that there were some great views from there – and it’s true, there are – not that we were spending too much time looking! Last time I did it I could not see the marshal at the end of the plateau as it was so misty, so this was a definite improvement.

Then it is a steep decent to the ruined church of St Gabriel’s at 5 miles before we got onto the cliff edge and the coastal path. The route is then undulating and, as mentioned above, the route had to be changed as there had been a landslide earlier in the year. Arriving back at the school, there is a fete and tea and cake – so energy was replenished very quickly. There were two official drink stations on the run – but they had put out extra water in the form of dustbins of water so that we could help ourselves at two other places, so that was welcome in the heat. A great run in a lovely part of the country.

Lesley completed the course in 1:47:03 (full results).