Drogo 10 trail race
1030 18th November 2018
I was looking forward to running the South West Road Runners Drogo 10 miles race again as it is a beautiful but challenging trail race in a stunning area. Drogo 10 is a race that takes place at The National Trust property, Castle Drogo about 20 minutes outside Exeter in the Teign Valley. Just like in the previous years when I have raced it, again this year the sun was shining, and the autumn colours were striking. This year Mike was running it too, so it was nice to share one of my favourite races with him.
We arrived nice and early which was a good plan as we were parked quite near the top of the drive, they now keep the car park for runners who have National Trust membership. We collected our numbers and chatted to other runners we knew, whilst I decided what to wear. I went with vest with long sleeve over the top, which meant it would be easy to do and I did within the first couple of miles.
I have not experienced the new start and finish to the route and I have to say the new start is much nicer as there is less bunching at the brow of the hill. I think my mind was geared to the old route as I went off a bit fast to miss the bunching at the narrow point which doesn’t happen now. This meant that by mile 3 I was feeling it, so I was glad to see the first of the 3 hills, I managed to run the first third of this hill and ran to the first bend but after this I powered walk to the top. This hill just keeps on going but you just must keep your head high, get the oxygen in your lungs and look at the view.
I managed to get in a rhythm between the first and second hill there seemed to be a nice group of runners around me which kept me going. I took a gel on the second hill before enjoying the long down-hill on the other side which leads down to the water’s edge. As I know the route and I know what is coming up I always tend to pick up my pace along the flat section down by the river and this year was no exception. After a while I could see a fellow Honiton runner up ahead and for that to happen either I was running fast, or they were not having a good run and it was the later. Seeing him in front did assist me in keeping my pace high which was a bonus for me and it wasn’t until the start of the third and final hill that I did overtake him.
The final hill named Hunters Path is slightly easier than the first but after 9 miles it is worse, the first third is the steepest but then it eases off and you can try and produce a gentle jog. From here to the finish I just try to keep my legs going but I am just producing a slow run and when the small hill appeared I had to walk. The change of route to the end meant that you do have a nice tree covered path to run along to bring you out at the finish.
I ran 98 minutes 12 seconds and Mike finished in 1.44.11.
The 10 trail miles follow a beautiful route in the Teign Valley, in and around Castle Drogo and Fingle Glen and it starts and finishes outside the castle. The start of the race has changed since I last ran it before the straight section on the driveway was very short before a narrow section to take you down in to the valley. Well now the driveway start is much longer before and therefore the runners are more spaced out before you hit the narrow path leading down to the river. The views from this section are stunning and far reaching, it is fun running downhill, but it is a bit of a technical descent and you must watch your footing.
At the end of the downhill path you cross the river via a bridge and there is always congestion on this bridge as the gap at the other end of the bridge is tiny and only allows one runner to cross the bank at a time. However, after this there is a long section that runs alongside the river before you come to the first of 3 big hills.
This first hill is a long winding hill about a mile in length, most runners run the first quarter of it but the wet muddy path under foot doesn’t help with running up it and walking up it is tough enough. You can enjoy the views of the valley from gaps in between the trees and once at the top it is undulating to hill number 2, with muddy paths but also firm paths to run on, which gives the legs a bit of a break.
Hill number two is much nicer than the first, it is much shorter plus the path is firm under foot, so you can get a good grip. With the best thing being that once you have reached the brow of the hill there is a long easy downhill path to the river and you can lengthen your stride and pick up some speed. At the bottom you find yourself by the river and for the next 2 miles, (7 and 8) you can pick up the pace as you follow the river back towards the pub at Fingle Glen. If you have run this race before than you know that you can really go fast along this section as there is a mile-long hill to get you back to the castle and most of us runners walk this hill.
Just before the 9-mile mark you are at the bottom of the hill and you look up to see the top of the valley in front and you know you just must power up those quads and keep walking. Eventually the steepness eases and you can start a run in to the finish, although this run in is very undulating and the smallest incline feels like a mountain. The finish is different to what I remember and I was told it has changed as there is now a flat straight stretch to bring you to the castle and the finish line.
This year you were awarded with an orange long sleeved technical top and there were men’s and women’s sizing in the top which is brilliant.
Good on the day organisation, you collect your race number of the morning of the race plus there were plenty of marshals on route. If you did not arrive early and were not a National Trust member then you were parked way down the drive by the entrance, so this should be noted and perhaps car share with a runner who is a member. The only criticism is that the finish line was not very clear, I heard a couple of runners mention this.
Social media is used just to promote the race and to let you know when the results are out.
WOULD I RECOMMEND IT?
Yes, I would as I have now done it a few times, it is a challenging route, but the views are stunning, both when you are high up on the ridge and down below by the river. It is a great price for a 10 miler, there are not that many 10-mile races out there, so it is nice to race one plus the memento is always good.