Exe to Axe: 30 March 2008

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All runners

Pos arrow Name arrow Time arrow Cat arrow Club arrow Pace arrow
1 1 Andrew Henderson 3:10:33 V40 Serpentine 9:23
2 2 Rachel Powell 4:53:25 FV40 Serpentine 14:27
3 3 Richard Smith 5:02:26 V55 Serpentine 14:54


Exe to Axe is a 20.3 mile off-road run along the Jurassic coastline of
East Devon. Think stunning sea views, crashing waves, sheer red cliffs…
and over 4000ft of ascent and descent, some of it on seemingly
never-ending wooden steps. Well-organised by Sidmouth Running Club, the
race is one of few in the south of England to be classified as a fell

The race begins on Exmouth seafront. The field is usually quite small –
just under 100 this year – but fairly hardcore, with good reason. It’s
hard! After an interesting start, whereby after about 20 metres everyone
has to squeeze past a narrow barrier onto a footpath, the run heads up
onto undulating clifftop paths for the first 4 miles. The route is
generally not marked – it’s just a case of keeping the sea to your right!
After passing through a caravan site and avoiding a firing range, the
first checkpoint (water and sweets) is in the serene town of Budleigh
Salterton, after which the route does a quick detour inland to cross a
river, before returning to some increasingly hilly cliff tops. The first
main climbs come at about 8 and 9 miles, with a very steep descent to the
next checkpoint in Sidmouth. Having completed 10 miles of pretty hilly
running, the course now starts to get tough!

The next 6 miles include three very steep ascents and descents, some of it
on wooden steps built into the hillside, the kind of steps where each one
is of a different height, making it impossible to get into any kind of
rhythm (walking rhythm that is, it's too far too steep for anyone to run!)
Although the summits are not high by normal fell running standards, the
nature of the cliff means that once the path has reached the top, it tends
to descend right back down to sea level (and in one case the beach) before
climbing all the way back up again. The low point of the race could well
be the point at which a ‘268 steps to the top’ sign is reached!

The final checkpoint is at 16 miles by pretty Branscombe beach, before one
final big climb and then more undulating cliff paths all the way to the
finish at Seaton. The finish line has to be the most understated one ever
–it would be easy to miss it altogether if one's legs weren't so desperate
to stop – but a much deserved warm welcome and memento are given to every
finisher. For the brave, an ice bath in the sea might be a good idea –
this is one tough race, much harder than a traditional marathon. There is
a nominal cut-off time of 5 hours, but this was not enforced – everyone
who was out on the course was allowed to finish. As well as individual
runners, a small number of relay teams also completed the race – this
could be an interesting option for anyone wanting to have a go at this
kind or running, but not wanting to commit to the full 20 miles.

Result queries

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If you have any queries about these results please email results@serpentine.org.uk