Thursday, October 22, 2020
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My top 5 10K races in the South West

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Olivia Higginson
Olivia Higginson
Olivia can usually be found running around the East Devon countryside with her fellow club runners. She has raced all distances from 5K to 50K, but her favourite distance is a half-marathon. Her dream would be to run in races around the world. Olivia is also a Sports Therapist, assisting runners to keep on running.

The 10K distance is probably the most popular distance to race for runners of all levels. Here, our writer Olivia, who lives in Devon, rounds up her pick of the top 10K races in the South West of England.

The 10K distance is a great step up for people having completed a Couch to 5K running plan. It’s also great for experienced runners to really test themselves. There are hundreds to choose from around the country.

While tidying up my box of medals and looking back over races, it got me thinking about my favourite 10K races. So I thought I’d compile my top 5 10K races local to me. The medals also reminded me of the races I enjoyed that are no longer going, such as ‘Killerton Kanter’, ‘Over The Hill And Faraway’ and ‘Beat The Bus’.

After some contemplating, I’ve complied my top 5 10K races here in the South West.

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Ottery 10K

The Ottery 10 km is a flat road run in the heart of East Devon, in the town that’s home to the famous Tar Barrels. It’s coordinated by my running club (Honiton RC) and takes place on a Sunday in May.

The circular route with an inner smaller circle takes runners from the Cricket Club pass the famous church and out towards the old A30. The quiet country roads bring you back to Cricket Club via the secondary school. There is a children’s fun run too, run along the trails by the River Otter.

10K races in the South West of England
Ottery 10K race t-shirt

I love the Ottery 10K because of its route; I enjoy the many flat sections. However, the few tiny hills give you a break from the monotony of the flat. Even though it’s not pancake flat, you can still be rewarded with a 10K PB. You’re rewarded with a good-quality race t shirt and the homemade cakes are delicious. For me, personally, it’s also great to catch up with friends from club.

First Chance 10K

The First Chance 10K is organised by South West Road Runners and is always run in January. This means it’s a great way to see how you’ve fared over the festive period. With the route being flat, it gives you a great chance for a PB and a benchmark for the year ahead. This 10K is on a fast, flat route through Exeter Riverside Country Park, following the river.

I’ve only raced this event once, but I really enjoyed it. It’s great to get the legs working after Christmas, and it also gives you the motivation to keep training over Christmas too. There tends to be a good turnout from my running club, so it’s lovely to see everyone. It’s well organised, and you’re rewarded with a good-quality running related memento.

10K races in the South West of England
Sprint finish at the First Chance 10K

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With the start and finish at the Exeter Quay, there are plenty of cafes available for pre- and post-race treats. The race is a sell out every year, so it’s best to enter as soon as entries open.

Otter Rail and River Run

The Otter Rail and River run is beautiful multi-terrain run in Tipton St John, which is just outside of Sidmouth. The stunning and flat route follows the River Otter to Harpford before returning to Tipton via the old railway line. This race is a good one if you’re looking for a trail 10K PB.

This race is a favourite purely down to the beautiful route and the low cost of the race. I love that this race has two halves. The first half takes you alongside the river, which if it’s a hot day does leave you exposed. (See our tips for running in a heatwave.) Then, in the second half, you’re in Harpford Woods, which is in the dappled shade of the trees. One memory I have of this race is being stung by a bee, which made me feel guilty for the bee.

10K races in the South West of England
The River Otter (photo © Georgina Donnelly)

For your Saturday morning effort, you’ll pick up a memento, which is sometimes a medal or maybe a bottle of local ale. As well as the 10K race, there is a fun run on the playing fields.

Haytor Heller

The Haytor Heller is organised by Teignbridge Trotters and it takes place on the third Saturday in July. The route takes you on a challenging circular route on Dartmoor, with several steep ascents and descents ,and is generally run across rugged, open moorland.

There are two sections through woodland; first, below Hound Tor and second below Hay Tor and includes a stream crossing. The start is halfway up the path to Hay Tor, so you start on a hill. It’s a great start as all the supporters are lining the path or are at Hay Tor calling you up.

10K races in the South West of England
Downhill finish of Haytor Heller

Haytor Heller is my favourite 10K race and I just love it. Yes, the route is challenging, but you see some beautiful parts of Dartmoor. When you’re running down from Hound Tor, you can see the runners in the distance and they look like ants. I love the fact that this race is on a Saturday evening and the light is just stunning. This race makes you feel alive.

For your efforts, you get a medal to wear with pride. There are refreshments available after the race too. If the weather is good, you could spend the afternoon exploring Dartmoor before the race. Or have an evening picnic afterwards.

Woodbury 10K

The Woodbury 10K normally takes place in September or October, in the village of Woodbury just outside of Exeter. The undulating route takes you around the villages of Woodbury and Woodbury Salterton, and offers a few hills to climb. On the way to the finish, in the final kilometre, you are taken behind the village church before the stretch to the finish.

I have run this small, local, low-key village event a few times and really enjoyed it. I love the route as it has the perfect mix of hills and flat sections. The roads are relatively quiet too. For your efforts you collect a medal, plus there are refreshments in the hall.

10K races in the South West of England
Woodbury 10K medal

So, these are my top five 10K races in the South West, but there are so many others that could have made the list. Check out the Taunton 10K, Stoke Stampede and Wellington Monument race.

Let us know in the comments below if you’ve run any of these and what you thought of them. Plus, we’d love to hear what is your favourite 10K, wherever you’re based in the country (or world!). 

Main photo by Scott Hewitt on Unsplash

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