SUNDAY saw the annual running of the Tavy 7 race, organised by Tavistock Athletic Club - a challenging seven-mile road race on Dartmoor round the roads of Plasterdown and Sampford Spiney, writes Andy Hughes.

The race enjoys great support from clubs throughout the area and attracts runners of all standards – hundreds of seasoned athletes mixing with those competing in their first race after starting their running journey through programmes like Couch to 5K.

As seems typical for the Tavy 7, the weather threw everything into the race – beautiful sunshine as runners arrived, a cloudburst before the start, a mercifully dry period for the race itself before the heavens opened again during the prize-giving.

The strong winds made conditions particularly tough for runners completing the last mile of the race across the open moorland.

Four-hundred-and-forty-one runners completed the race this year, from 42 clubs mostly based in the South West but some from further afield.

Storm Running Plymouth provided the highest number of runners – 49 in total – with TAC themselves fielding 35 runners.

The race was also chosen to host the Ross Shield, a competition for teams of runners from Devon clubs affiliated with England Athletics.

The male shield has been contested for 102 years, making it a particularly prestigious trophy for any club to win.

Tavistock AC reigned supreme this year, retaining both Ross Shield trophies for the male and female categories and also winning both club team prizes (based on the top four member results).

Adam Holland (Tavistock AC) won the race overall in a time of 38:45, with Shaun Dixon (Highgate Harriers) second in 39:05 and Rob Ellis (Exmouth Harriers) third in 39:41.

The first three females were also from Tavistock AC, with first place going to Nikki Kelly in 43:54, second was Charlotte Walker in 44:47 and third was Emma Ryder in 45:45.

The male team prizewinning athletes from Tavistock AC were Adam Holland, Sam Larkham, Thomas Brogden and Hayden Bond and, for the female team, Nikki Kelly, Charlotte Walker, Emma Ryder and Jenny Jeeves.

South West Road Runners took both second-place prizes and Erme Valley Harriers took both third places.

Many individuals from with the club and from the wider community were pivotal in enabling the event to happen smoothly, safely and successfully, Richard Nettleship, overall race organiser, paid tribute to all of those who helped in roles including marshalling, catering, car parking, drinks stations, results management, registration, bag drop and many other behind the scenes activities. 

He also thanked race sponsor Mansbridge Balment, who also staffed the water station and were fully involved from build-up to break-down. 

The club would also like to thank community partners for their support, including Tavistock Lions for marshalling and traffic management, Dartmoor Search and Rescue for provision of First Aid cover and Tavistock Town Council for supporting the necessary traffic measures.

Age category winners were as follows: M40: Shaun Dixon (Highgate Harriers) - 39:05; M45: Jamie Howard (South West Road Runners) - 42:00; M50: Mark West (Tavistock AC) - 45:36; M55: Martin Colwill (Bideford AC) - 42:55; M60: David Engledew (Erme Valley Harriers) 48:46; M65: John Moorhouse (Dawlish Coasters) - 58:38; M70: Allan Herdman (Tavistock AC) - 51:12; F35: Sally Erith (Erme Valley Harriers) - 47:03; F40: Hannah Worth (Tavistock AC) - 51:24; F45: Louise Reynolds (South West Road Runners) - 52:43; F50: Emma Jeffery (Gloucester AC) - 54:14; F55: Jenny Jeeves (Tavistock AC) - 50:37; F60: Marilyn Blair (Torrington AAC) - 56:29; F65: Alison Engledew (Erme Valley Harriers) - 56:00; F70: Lavinia Marshall (Launceston Road Runners) - 1:19:24.