FKT: Jamie Stephenson - Dartmoor 500 (United Kingdom) - 2019-09-20

Athletes
Gender category
Male
Route variation
Standard route
Style
Supported
Finish date
Total time
15h 56m
Report
Four of us started (Tristan, Patrick, Jo [Jamie's brothers] and myself) the challenge, just myself made it to the end. Aiming to start at 0510 (as per the challenge outline set my Simon Evans) we were late getting going starting at 0521. None of us have any prior experience of running in the moor which soon showed as Tristan slipped twisting an ankle. He managed to get it moving again and we were on our way once again. The darkness proved difficult and it was tough finding a route through the vegetation. The sun rising at about 7am brought new hope and revived enthusiasm. We knocked out the next dozen tor’s reeling in the amazing views offered over Dartmoor. Most notably the sun coming out at the top of Cosden beacon and casting amazing light over oke Tor. We got to East mill Tor prior to a formal break and the tough terrain started to take its toll on Jo, the lesser experienced in the group. He continued to west mill Tor before leaving us and decending to Meldon and an early cup of tea. The remaining trio pressed on taking on the highest peak in Dartmoor, High Willhays, before making the sharp descent and harsh ascent to Branscombes loaf. The terrain took a turn for the worse here with heavy vegetation. Some zig-zagging around the high ground bagged us a lot of tor’s in quick succession. The wind was starting to really pick up and the top of Hare Tor exposed us to it completely. We descended down a steep gorge for a river crossing. We had been out of food and water for an hour at this point and refilled bottles using chlorine tabs here. A sharp climb out and a long slog to lynch Tor awaited. Tristan and Patrick declares their intentions to pull out at 60km (our bag drop) and at 55k I made the call to leave them and push on solo. I was left with a full marathon of moorland running to complete. I moved onto the checkpoint making up some time on Simon Evans’ time. Doubts set in at the bag drop but a good meal and sugar helped lift my mood. I pressed on through Princetown and started to lose track of the Tor count as I summited the bearsdown Tor etc. Passing through Postbridge my legs were still working well but I knew the sun would be going down shortly. I roused the legs one last time for the section to the base of Hameldown. I climbed the well trodden path as the light faded completely. The ridge seemed to last forever in the dark but I could see I had done enough to bag the FKT, all I had to do was make it the last 6k back to The Warren House inn. Crossing towards the pub, the team had assembled to see my torch light approach the pub and cheer me on through the last 500m. A round of applause waited as I passed in the pub and fell into a chair to enjoy a good meal. 
 
Overall, I can say that we thoroughly underestimated the terrain. The wind posed an extra challenge as there is no escaping it on the exposed moorland. 
 
I completed the challenge in 15hr45min but given our late departure it makes it 15hr56.
 
You can view the social media posts by Tristan up until 55km here: