Race Re­port

The Ex­moor Stag­ger has been go­ing for a long time, but it’s as glo­ri­ous now as it ever was, says Sam Mur­phy

Runner's World (UK) - - Contents -

The Ex­moor Stag­ger: a race that never goes out of style

The Ex­moor Stag­ger was held for the 20th time this year. I’m told as many as half of the field are ‘ loyal ad­dicts’, who tackle its 15+ miles year after year. Any­one fa­mil­iar with the wild beauty of Ex­moor (and the cakes at the race fin­ish) will un­der­stand the draw.

But you’ll cer­tainly earn that Cherry Bakewell. The mostly off-road route en­com­passes over 1,100m of climb, tak­ing in the moor’s high­est point – Dunkery Bea­con – be­fore re­turn­ing to the start point in Mine­head on the Som­er­set coast.

The race kicked off from a cul-de-sac but it wasn’t long be­fore we were run­ning through wooded Al­combe Combe on good, firm trail. At first we climbed grad­u­ally, but soon we were scal­ing the for­mi­da­ble slope of Peri­ton Hill (300m).

We emerged onto open moor, where the bracken was sig­nalling au­tumn, with saf­fron flames burst­ing from a mauve ex­panse of heather. You could call me bi­ased about Ex­moor, since I once lived there; it’s where I found my trail-run­ning feet on many me­an­ders across the moor. But James Baker, win­ner last year and on six other oc­ca­sions, is equally smit­ten. ‘It’s such a stun­ning course and the scenery is

at its best at this time of year – you have a good chance of spot­ting red deer,’ the Sus­sex-based run­ner said af­ter­wards.

Any deer had scarpered by the time I found my­self on the level ter­rain of Woot­ton Com­mon, but there were Ex­moor ponies to ad­mire and a drinks sta­tion to pro­vide an ex­cuse for a breather. Four miles in, the route di­vided. Go right and you’re on your way to Dunkery Bea­con, with an in­vig­o­rat­ing sin­gle-track climb; turn left and you’ve opted for the Stag­ger’s lit­tle brother, The Stum­ble, which will have you home after a tad un­der seven miles.

For both Stag­ger­ers and Stum­blers, the last mile of the race is an ex­hil­a­rat­ing down­hill cruise that re­ally lets you take the brakes off. I ca­reened to the fin­ish, where my time was hand-recorded. This is an old-school race of the best kind – well or­gan­ised by a run­ning club who know the area well ( great route, easy park­ing, hot show­ers, well-priced re­fresh­ments) and mar­shalled by en­thu­si­as­tic club mem­bers, friends and fam­ily. For £16 it’s a steal and I was happy to get back to the race HQ be­fore all the cakes were gone. Run It The next Ex­moor Stag­ger is on Oct. 23. mine­head­run­ning­club.co.uk

GREAT OUT­DOORS Come for the run, stay for the scenery

PIECE OF CAKE Much de­served it was, too

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