Sunday 17th February saw Devon running business ‘Jolly Running’ host the inaugural ‘Beat the Train’ 12 Km race based at the South Devon Railway’s Totnes Riverside station.
A special steam train park and ride service from Buckfastleigh was used by many of the runners to arrive by rail at the early morning event.
On arrival at Totnes, spectators then boarded the ‘Jolly Running Express’ race train, in the hope of catching a glimpse of their family and friends running along the other side of the River Dart as the train made its journey to Staverton.
As nearly 300 runners lined up on the start line at 09.15, the ‘Jolly Running Express’ prepared to leave and, with a loud blast of the loco whistle, the steam train and the runners began their race.
Spectators on the train could catch sight of the runners along the opposite riverside, and runners also saw the steam train along the route, and the race was on to Staverton!
The route took runners across muddy fields, woodland and riverside trails through the Dartington Hall estate to Staverton where the ‘Jolly Treats Station’ served up water, squash and a pick’n’mix of sweets for the runners to refuel tired bodies.
The train also made a quick stop here, before both the runners and the train made their way back to Totnes and the finish line.
First across the finish line and beating the train was Adam Holland of Tavistock AC, finishing in a time of 53:40. The first lady home was Joanne Page, clocking a time of 57:19.
Some 31 runners beat the ‘Jolly Running Express’ which finished in a time of 1hr and 6 seconds this year, blowing its whistle as it came to a halt.
South Devon Railway volunteers at Totnes had organised a refreshment tent, offering runners a choice of bacon or sausage rolls, hot drinks, sweets, chocolate and cakes, all of which went down a treat with all of the runners and spectators.
Brian Lewis of Jolly Running said: “The event was very well received with lots of great feedback, and our fantastic marshals who gave up their time to volunteer were amazing in offering the runners lots of support and smiley faces.
“And the team at the South Devon Railway came together and really made the day for us, they really got behind the spirit and idea of the event and worked very hard to help ‘Jolly Running’ make the event a big success, we really could not have done it without them, and we are already discussing the event for next year.”
South Devon Railway spokesman Dick Wood said: “From all of the reports I’ve received from those involved on the day, this was a fantastic effort all round by both the SDR and Jolly Running teams, and everyone had an enjoyable and fun day. We were pleased to welcome so many visitors to our Totnes station and have made many new friends.”