Running can be a solitary activity or it can be an exciting team endeavour with club-mates. The latter was certainly the case when 121 teams contested the 15th Erme Valley Relays around a hilly 4k circuit near Ivybridge, North Devon on Friday night (7 July). Defending champions, Exmouth Harriers, were out in force again, fielding nine teams and retaining their overall and M40 veterans titles.
Erme Valley Harriers are experienced hosts and promoted this popular event from Ivybridge Rugby Club. The course, on quiet country lanes, takes full advantage of the many contours through Filham, Coombe Cross and the appropriately named Higher Broadaford, with distant views of Torbay.
A simple format of four equidistant legs for all teams, irrespective of gender or age group, makes for an easy to understand race and one of the great strengths of relays is that most of the team is free to support, which generates a terrific atmosphere at the changeover.
Exmouth Harriers' winning quartet were Rob Ellis (12:55), Ryan Snell (13:45), Simon Minting (13:23) and Berihu Hadera (12:44) for a combined 52:47, finishing 45 seconds clear of South West Road Runners (53:32). Erme Valley Harriers' challenge was blunted by the pressures of organising the event but their quartet still finished third overall (53:53) followed by Axe Valley Runners (54:00), Plymouth Harriers (54:24) and M40 champions Exmouth Harriers (54:40).
Tiverton Harriers won the women's relay through Serane Stone (14:30), Lauren Burd (16:47), Helen Kirby (16:34) and Jasmine Stone (15:56) for a total 1:03:47. Nearest challengers were Newton Abbot Ladies (1:07:45) and East Cornwall Harriers (1:08:34).
For the final word we turn to Teignbridge Trotters' M40 and runABC writer Chris Broadbent, who said: "It was a perfect night for the Erme Valley Relays. It was a sunny, warm evening, hundreds of teams, a testing course and a welcoming club house with chips and beer galore for Friday night runners. The course, as most Devon races, was hilly and through country lanes shaded by high hedges. All in all, a really enjoyable event and well organised by the host club."
What's not to like about a good, competitive run followed by chips and beer?
Full details and results are available at the runABC South race listings.