Axmouth Challenge is an approximately 10-mile, multi-terrain test of stamina and running skill from Axmouth village hall, near the world famous Seaton & District Electric Tramway in Devon. This is more a course for blisters than blistering times but the talented young Oliver Caute made light of the event with victory by almost half a mile.
The winner (pictured, #193) delighted the crowd at the finish as he runs for host club, Axe Valley Runners. The 17-year-old was recently seventh in the Devon under-20 cross country championships at Exeter and ran 16:12 for 5k and 4:19.54 for 1500m last year, while a 1:25:17 half marathon debut at Reading in 2016 hinted at his reserves of stamina.
Caute dropped down the fearsome Stepps Lane descent to finish in splendid isolation in 58:50. M40 master, Geoff Davey (Teignbridge Trotters, 1:01:32) and Duncan Staddon (Axe Valley, 1:02:28) were the nearest challengers to the flying teenager.
Karl Hodson (M50 Axe Valley, 1:06:40) and John Caswell (M60 South West RR, 1:15:02) led the higher age-group runners as Axe Valley Runners dominated the team race with seven of the top-10 finishers.
Also among the top-10 was Hannah Brown (Exmouth Harriers, 1:08:56) to win the women's race from closely matched W45 competitors Mandy Wheeler (Teignbridge Trotters, 1:10:18) and Karen Eyre (Axe Valley, 1:10:53). The best masters' result was achieved by W60 Eleanor Wood (1:14:41) running in the bright yellow vest sported by Axe Valley Runners.
A full race programme also featured a five miler, won by M60 Robert Adams (Yeovil Town RRC, 49:49) and W55 Nicola Oliver (Ilfracombe RC, 52:33), plus a three mile run led by 11-year-old Harry McMahon (Axe Valley, 25:18) and a one mile dash headed by 9-year-old Kai Martin (St Mary's RC Primary, 9:53).
All finishers in the main races were revived with hot soup and rolls as the Axmouth Challenge kicked off the East Devon Community Race Series in style for 2018.