There was much huffing and puffing on a warm day in the Lundy Island 14-mile trail race but no sightings of the unmistakable, comical little puffins that normally inhabit the Devon island. This year's promotion by Pure Trail UK took place on Sunday (14 July) and drew a capacity 256 intrepid pilgrims to sample the delights of the precipitous course.
It seems the clown among sea birds may have heard about the invasion of runners and set off for their post breeding season holidays a little earlier this year! Highland cattle, Sika deer and plenty of seals were in evidence and the fauna added to the experience for the visitors.
Lundy Island is just a parkrun in length so the 13.5-mile course visits all three lighthouses, traversing the 'undulating' eastern and western clifftops, clings to steep slopes along the spine of the island and generally tests every muscle, joint and sinew – truly pure trail running.
Most competitors arrive on the same 'Lundy Raceboat' transfer from the mainland. The MS Oldenburg leaves Ilfracombe harbour at 9:00am and returns for 8:00pm and it is this shared transport that helps engender the unique atmosphere and sense of joint endeavour. Then there is a testing 15-minute uphill walk to the village green start, merely a foretaste of what is to follow.
This year's fastest competitors were M40 mountain goat Ben Livesey (RAF, 1:25:05), Ronnie Richmond (Bideford AAC, 1:28:26) and Phil Payne (Haywards Heath Harriers, 1:41:09).
Gary Suggate (M40 Bideford AAC, 1:43:08) was fourth and the last male to finish ahead of the women's race winner Jo Meek (W40 Winchester & District, 1:44:01). Susan Duncan (Weston AC, 1:57:06) and Kim Lo (Haywards Heath Harriers, 2:10:15) completed the podium.
Just 72 athletes finished inside 2:30:00 and M60 Paul Sturtridge (Bideford AAC) had the honour of closing the timing station within four hours. All finishers received the coveted Lundy Island Puffin medal and event T-shirt.
runABC South is grateful to Exmouth Harriers' Des White (pictured) for details of the day on Lundy Island. M65 Des (56th, 2:22:04) took a tumble at 10 miles on some unforgiving granite slabs but was only slightly damaged. His wife Alison has bragging rights, however, as she was first W60 in 2:49:29 for a hard-earned bottle of Sauvignon Blanc!
Images courtesy Des and Alison White