By Lucy Oldham
For over 600 years, Launceston Castle (Kastel Lanstefan) was the most important fortress and centre of government in Cornwall. Founded soon after the Norman Conquest, the castle’s heyday was in the 13th and 14th centuries when it served as an aristocratic residence and centre of the Earldom and Duchy of Cornwall. Earl Richard, one of Europe’s richest men, created many of the buildings standing there today.
Little did Richard know, over 700 years later – on a humid Sunday morning – this Castle would be the backdrop for hundreds of red-faced, sweaty runners crossing a finish line at the annual ‘Treggy 7’ event. Launceston Town Square is the starting point for this 7-mile race (number 11 in the Cornish GP series and hosted by Launceston Road Runners). The first mile heads downhill to undulating rural roads until the 2.5 mile point when it’s a tough half-mile climb to the village of Tregadillett. The last 3 miles are mainly downhill (although it doesn’t feel like it) ending with a spectacular finish in the grounds of Launceston Castle.
Well done to the 16 triumphant Harriers who charged over the finish line this morning: Simon Morse (1st Harrier home and 3rd in age category); Liam Gallantry (2nd Harrier); Ben Harding (3rd Harrier and course personal best); Revis Crowle (1st female Harrier and 1st in age category); Ian Savigar (3rd in age category); Sarah McDonough (5th in age category); Andrew Sims; John Brady; Lisa Webb; Sarah Steed; Karen Sims; Ray Goodwright; Chloe Turner; Mary Mullarkey; Nikki Pritchard; and Ann Kinahan. A valiant effort by all ECH runners in such hot, muggy conditions.
Launceston Castle also has a colourful history as a prison of which George Fox, founder of the Quakers, was the most famous prisoner (suffering harsh confinement here in 1656). It was also the base for the Cornish Royalist defence of the county. Today, it is a far more peaceful location. On September 3rd, the only battles were between runners and the Cornish hills. The only ‘torture’ experienced was signed up for voluntarily (and even paid for). Our ancestors would no doubt think we’re mad. Perhaps they’d be right?! A huge well done to all our comrades who fought courageously to conquer those hills. East Cornwall Harriers are again victorious and survive to fight another day! (The next GP ‘battle’ is a hilly half-marathon in Truro on September 17.)
Meanwhile, other fearless Harriers have been embarking on some very exciting adventures! Nick Page has completed yet another heroic event: the Dartmoor Volcano (a 10.5 mile tour of Southern Moor, with 550 metres of elevation). The route involves three river crossings; two bogs; a volcano ascent; and a brutal uphill start. An amazing achievement: well done Nick!
Gail Cory and Nicola Rudgley – now known as the daring, dynamic duo – are continuing their love of long-distance events and recently completed the Saints Way Challenge. These brave warriors tackled 28 miles of self-navigation from Padstow to Fowey and loved every minute of it (particularly the well-deserved ice-creams at the end). Yet another awesome effort!
Further afield, Pat Munn attacked the momentous TDS event at the UTMB (Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc). Starting in picturesque Chamonix, the 106-mile race incorporates over 32,000ft of evaluation across Italy, Switzerland and France. TDS is an abbreviation of a French phrase meaning: ‘Following the footprints of the Dukes of Savoie’. Many runners can only dream of conquering such a route, but Pat completed the course in an impressive 30 hours and 36 minutes. Well done Pat!
Finally, a big congratulations to all the Harriers who took part in the Plymouth Backyard Ultra this weekend. (More news to follow separately from Craig Vaughnley.)