In yet another strong and stable weekend, the lads and lasses of this wonderful entity we call Ilfracombe Running Club took to the hills of North Devon and the mountains of Wales in two knee-knackering events.
First up were complete nutters Gavin Burnside and Dan Murdoch. They competed in the V3K Ultra - a meat and dairy-free race up and down and up and down and up and down several mountains in Wales ... fifteen of the bloody things in fact. The name 'V3K' comes from the fact that all the mountains in Wales over 3,000ft are included in the race, including Elidir Fawr, Glyder Fach and Fawkinell Aye M'fawkin-bug-edd.
In almost a photo finish, Dan beasted Gavilar by five hours, give or take the odd minute. Dan finished the unbelievably tough course in 09:10:23, while Gavin limped home in 14:30:16. Gavin said afterwards: "The first climb was the worst. And the second climb, that was the worst too. The third climb I didn't enjoy at all. After that, I went into a bit of a decline." Well done boys! Still not as tough as running up Horne Park Road, though.
More IRC fun was had on Sunday when another group of pain-loving idiots took on the North Devon AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, like Nick Marsh's rear-end) Marathon and Half Marathon. This race began in Woolacombe, ran along Croyde Bay and Saunton Downs, back along Putsborough and into Woolacombe again (where the Half Marathon finished), along the coast path through Lee to the edge of Ilfracombe, up to the Tarka Trail, down into Ossaborough and finally back into Woolacombe.
The shy and retiring Mary Menon could only manage a disappointing fifth place finish this time, in 03:33:11. As consolation, she was the first lady home overall, beating the next female finisher by forty-five minutes. Wait a minute ... FORTY-FIVE BLOOMIN' MINUTES!? OMG OMG OMG!! Mary was forced to undergo a drugs test after the race, but fortunately for her, she got them all right.
Leading the IRC men home was Dan 'Free' Loder, who finished fourteenth overall and fourth in his category with a time of 03:57:45. Completing the weary trio was Mike 'Doobs' Robinson who made it back in 05:18:20. Well done all for completing a gruelling course.
Slightly less nuttier were the IRC bods who chose the marginally less soul-sapping half. David Monge Garcia made it home in 01:40:07 then went back to egg on his daughter Emma who finished her first half in 02:03:09. Helen Wright was the second lady home in 01:44:30, followed by Neil Garrett in 01:52:54. Sarah Bulled completed the course in 02:17:51, twenty or so minutes behind husband Chris. Alice Bradley finished in 02:19:37, but sadly Andrew 'so called' Kimberley failed to finish the course. Kimbo pulled up after five miles, citing a calf injury. A special tent was erected around him but fortunately a local vet declared there was no need for him to be shot, despite two dozen people stepping forwards to volunteer to do so.
Sadly, it was not all good news at the weekend, and many Ilfracombe Running Club members were shocked and stunned to learn the horrific news that the lovely and vivacious Rachael Titmus had married Dan Hunter. There will be a minute's silence at the club Thursday in memory of the happier times in Rachael's short but splendid life.