2023's Westcountry Ultra Flat 50 featured a smaller field than usual due to a lot of runners not making the start line - the reasons ranged from injuries to extremely bad luck with train strikes but those who were there were treated to a stunning day out in the Westcountry. The sun shone, the aid stations were well stocked and run by seasoned veterans who know this race well and there was a brand new gpx file crafted by Tris Clark, which led to almost no navigational errors and any reported were said to be no fault of the gpx! There were no previous winners in the field so we knew someone would get their first Albion victory. In the Flat 50 it was a close race with Jamie Oakey setting a blistering early pace in his first 50 miler but suffering from the heat around marathon distance and being overtaken by Ed Rimmell and Ali Bisatt, who would be within minutes of each other until the very end. Ed took a deserved victory but Ali was only 2 minutes behind in 2nd place and Jamie managed a superb 3rd in his first ultra. In the womens' race it was Kathy Moran who took the victory, finishing an impressive 4th overall alongside Bjorn Edney. Lisa Hatchard took 2nd, finishing alongside Luke Betteridge, who ran a sub 12 in scorching conditions on his first 50 miler, and Katie Colwill was just minutes behind in 3rd. Everyone in the field deserves a mention but to name one more each for the men and women, Kris Saint deserves a round of applause for going sub 12 hours by just 1 second! Lauren Silk from Colorado via Thessaloniki, Greece did superbly to finish the Flat 50 at just 19 years of age and in trainers that wouldn't have been her first choice to wear after her Hokas went missing in mysterious circumstances from her accommodation in London! This race always brings stories. Will you be a part of 2024's?
Before we go any further let's get one thing straight - The Westcountry Ultra Flat 50 Miler does have some hills. I mean, did you really expect 50 miles of splendid Somerset scenery to be 100% pancake flat? Compared to the Hilly 50 though, this route is basically as flat as they come. 15 miles of canal path to ease you in, very little elevation throughout, just some bumps in the second half. Something that may surprise you though is that running 50 flat miles can leave your legs feeling sorer than 50 hilly miles, because when you're on the flat you're using the same muscles and it's not obvious when to ease off. Although there was only around half an hour between the winning times in the Flat 50 and Hilly 50 in 2019, the flat 50 is the one to run if you want a fast time or to run 50 less challenging miles. The Hilly 50 is a beast! However, the Flat 50 course is stunning in its own right - it's just which one looks more appealing really
Ok, so starting off in Taunton you will have around 15 miles of quaint canal path to get yourself moving. The scenery here is pretty varied, and you may spot some interesting wildlife - Kingfishers are frequently spotted along here, Otters have been known and by the time you get to the first aid station you will already feel like you've seen a real slideshow of tranquil scenes. After the canal is the meandering River Parrett - the muddy banks tell you that you're nearing an estuary, but the long grass and rural splendour are a bridge between canal and coast
Once you get to the West Somerset coast you will see the infamous Hinkley Point Power station (sorry, we can never get them to move it despite our best efforts!) and then you have the spectacular limestone formations of Kilve Beach and the surrounding coastline to marvel at. If you look out to sea you may spot the engimatic islands of Steepholm and Flatholm with the Welsh coast lying beyond them. If you look to your left when you get past Kilve you will spot the Quantock Hills, where Samuel Taylor Coleridge composed many of his best known poems
You have an inland diversion through a little bit of pine forest to West Quantoxhead, through that pretty village and on to Lucke's Lane, cutting across to Williton and then back to the coast at Watchet. You will already have glimpsed the gleaming white of Butlin's Minehead from a couple of points if you keep your eyes peeled, and this is where you are ultimately heading for, but not before the expanses of Dunster Beach, where your final aid station before Minehead lies
You will turn left just after Butlins and from there it's around a mile to the finish, where plenty of refreshments await you along with a chance to reminisce in comfort with your fellow finishers. If you're not in a rush to go anywhere why not hang around at the finish to see the Hilly 50, or even the 100 unfold?...
There's a coach to the start from the finish for anyone who needs it, which we encourage you to use if you aren't getting picked up, but if you need transport back after the race we've sorted out lift shares the previous few years and this has worked well
To request the GPX file please email email@example.com
CUT-OFF TIME: - 15 HOURS (This will require you to average a bit under 4mph the whole way - should be very doable on this course overall)
PRICE: - £60
ENTRIES AVAILABLE VIA OUR ONLINE STORE. ENTRIES ONLY REFUNDABLE IN THE UNLIKELY EVENT THAT THE RACE HAS TO BE CANCELLED, BUT IF YOU ARE NO LONGER WISHING TO TAKE PART OR ARE UNABLE TO THEN IF THE RACE IS FULL WE WILL MAKE EVERY EFFORT TO FIND SOMEONE TO TAKE YOUR PLACE, AND THEIR ENTRY FEE WILL GO TO YOU. IF THE RACE HAS NOT REACHED CAPACITY THEN YOU ARE WELCOME TO TRANSFER YOUR PLACE TO SOMEBODY ELSE AS LONG AS YOU MAKE US FULLY AWARE BEFORE THE DAY. ENTRIES ARE LIMITED TO 100 FOR THE TIME BEING
WHAT DO YOU GET FOR YOUR MONEY?: -
Medal for all finishers
6 well-stocked aid stations, plus food at the finish
Trophies for winners
Comfortable area to relax in at finish which will have food, drink, comfortable seating and plenty more
Course markings where needed (it's NEARLY impossible to get lost on canal path!)
A front row seat for the finishes of two other races if you want to stay
Assistance with transport arrangements to get back to Taunton if needed (please use coach if you can before race though)
Something unique, as this is the Albion Running experience (they say mystically!)
A race through some of Somerset's best flat running routes
RACE ROUTE: -
Route maps and route notes will be sent out to every participant before the race but can be requested by anyone looking to enter - please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org to ask for these
There is no mandatory kit list but it is STRONGLY advised that you carry the following items to be on the safe side: -
* Waterproof jacket that you have used in rainy conditions and know will do the job
* Hat and Gloves in case of unseasonably cold weather (possible in Somerset!)
* An additional base layer (this can be lightweight, and it's advisable if it is, as long as it's an additional layer)
* Headtorch with spare batteries in case of late finish
* High viz clothing for dusk
* Mobile phone that is fully charged at start
* Some Emergency food/water, plus at least one 500ml water bottle to carry with you
* Foil survival blanket in case of emergencies
* Personal first aid kit with plasters, savlon etc.
If you need any info regarding TRAVEL AND ACCOMMODATION please e-mail email@example.com - the race start is at Canal Road, Taunton, TA1 1PN. Please see CAR PARKING below for the best places to leave your car
By agreeing to take part in this Albion Running Race:
You declare that you will be 18 years or over on the day of the event
You are fully aware of the actual and potential risks in participation in this event
Although the race is organised with a full risk assessment having been carried out, will have medical support and will be carried out with the safety of the runners in mind at all times, you declare that you willl compete in the race entirely at your own risk
To the extent permitted by law, you accept that the organisers and sponsors of the race, or any of their agents, will not be liable for any loss, damage, action, claim, costs or expenses, which may arise in consequence of your participation of the event
AID STATION LOCATIONS: -
CP1: - BOAT & ANCHOR INN, HUNTWORTH (Meads Crossing, Huntsworth, Bridgwater, Somerset, TA7 0AQ)
This first aid station is located by the side of the canal path and will come after you've covered a bunch of easy, flat early miles
CP2: - THE ANCHOR, COMBWICH (Riverside, Combwich, Bridgwater, Somerset, TA5 2RA)
Not to be confused with the Boat & Anchor, this is located in the pretty village of Combwich on the River Parrett Trail and will be outside the pub
CP3: - STOLFORD (Stolford Car Park, Stolford, Somerset, TA5 1TW)
Within sight of Hinkley Point power station, this will be your last stop before you get onto the West Somerset Coast Path proper (that will come when you have gone around the Hinkley Point diversion) – a welcome refuelling stop
CP4: - KILVE BEACH (Kilve, Bridgwater, Somerset, TA5 1EG)
With Hinkley Point power station behind you, by this stage you will be running past the spectacular limestone formations of the West Somerset coast. Some of the best ones are here at Kilve Beach, where you can pause for a short while as you enjoy the scenery
CP5: - WINDMILL INN, WEST QUANTOXHEAD (West Quantoxhead, Williton, Taunton, Somerset, TA4 4DS)
At this point it may feel a little bit like you're on a pub crawl but this aid station is on the edge of the Quantocks and from nearby you may catch your first glimpse of Minehead, where the flat 50 ends
CP6: - DUNSTER BEACH CAR PARK (Sea Lane, nr. Minehead, Somerset, TA24 6TH)
Now you’re really getting pretty close to the finish! Only a few more miles to go from here, and so take it all in and get some refreshments to get you ready for that final push…. Unless you’re doing the 100 of course, in which case you still have quite a long way to go ; )
FURTHER RACE INFO 2023 (Will not be dissimilar but up to date info will be sent out nearer the time to all entrants)
Registration will begin at 6am for both races – it will take place at Active Fitness Gym, 30A Bridge Street, Taunton, TA1 1UB. There will be toilets here. The gym is located around the corner from the Morrisons supermarket in Taunton, which is at Priory Bridge Road, Taunton, TA1 1DX. To reach the gym from the Morrisons car park you go right around the left-hand side of the building, following it all the way round and through a narrow walkway on the other side. When you emerge from the other end of this walkway you will see an opening out onto the street. Before you get to this you will see the Coal Orchard pub on your left. The entrance to Activate Fitness is just before the pub – you will see the sign on the door with an intercom to get in but the gym manager will be there on the day and has said that the door will be open until registration is done. Activate Fitness is approximately a 2 minute walk from the Morrisons car park.
The 100 MILE RUNNERS WILL SET OFF AT 7am WITH A RACE BRIEFING AROUND 10 MINUTES BEFORE, THE FLAT 50 RUNNERS WILL SET OFF AT 7:30am WITH A RACE BRIEFING AROUND 10 MINUTES BEFORE. WE WILL WALK A SHORT DISTANCE TO CANAL ROAD FOR THE BRIEFINGS.
The official cut-off for the Flat 50 will be 9.30pm on Saturday 14th May, for the 100 miler it is 3pm on Sunday 15th. Because we will still be waiting for 100 miler and Hilly 50 runners we can give a bit of leeway for the Flat 50 but because the aid stations are manned by volunteers we still request that you try to finish within the cut-off if at all possible. If you are going to be an hour or so late then don’t panic, but much more than this we may have to request that if you continue you are to do so under your own steam. The cut-off time is designed so anyone with a reasonable degree of fitness can complete it. On the 100 miler we cannot give leeway on the final cut-off because people who have been up all night and have given up their time to help will need sleep!
The finish is at West Somerset College, Bircham Road, Minehead, TA24 6AY. There will be a large sports hall at the finish with toilets and showers available adjacent to the hall. You are welcome to stay as long as you need to up until our access to the hall ends at 3pm on the Sunday.
COACHES AND TRANSPORT
There will be a coach leaving from the finish at West Somerset College, Bircham Road, Minehead, TA24 6AY for the 100 miler and the flat 50 miler. There is free parking at the front of the college (obvious car park on the left when you pull in) for everyone who wants to get the coach. The coach will leave Minehead at 5.05am. The coaches will have to leave on time in order to get everyone to the registration location on time, so please arrive a little earlier if you wish to get the coach.
A small number of lifts can usually be arranged back to Taunton after the finish with people who are going that way and have space in their cars but unless you especially need to be back in Taunton the best option if you are not being picked up is to park in Minehead and get the coach to the race start. There are buses back to Taunton from Minehead but these only run at certain times and take around 2 hours to get back as they stop pretty much everywhere along the way! We will have a timetable at the race finish. PLEASE SEND A QUICK EMAIL TO firstname.lastname@example.org IF YOU DO INTEND TO GET THE COACH SO WE HAVE AN IDEA OF NUMBERS.
If you are not getting the coach and are wishing to park in Taunton near the race start here are the main options. Due to the location of the start it is very difficult to have a free parking option that doesn't involve a long walk to get to the start. Therefore the best options are as follows: -
- BELVEDERE ROAD CAR PARK, BELVEDERE ROAD, TAUNTON, TA1 1BS – This car park is right opposite the registration location pretty much and so is your best bet in terms of proximity. It charges around £8.20 for a 24 hour period, which will cover the whole race even if you’re doing the 100 miler as it does not charge on a Sunday. This car park is right behind Taunton Swimming Pool and Activate Fitness is perhaps a 5 minute walk from here.
- WOOD STREET CAR PARK, WOOD STREET, TAUNTON, TA1 1UR – This car park is around a 2-3 minute walk from the registration location – it charges around £8.20 for a whole day and does not charge on a Sunday. There is a barrier system so you pay for the ticket at a machine before leaving and then insert the ticket at the barrier, which will open it.
If you want family/friends to meet you at various points along your way as a crew then this is permitted for both races. However, please bear in mind that some places along the route are easier to get to than others and parking is limited at some locations. The aid stations are generally good places to meet your crew, especially on the Hilly 50 route where a lot of the places you will run through are fairly ‘off the beaten path.’ Crew can give you food, water, hugs, blankets and basically anything that may get you disqualified in some other races as long as it’s legal/within the spirit of the race. They cannot give you performance enhancing drugs, you can sit in their vehicle as long as it is not in motion at the time, they cannot carry you or otherwise do anything that means you are not completing the course under your own steam. If you have any questions about any of this please e-mail for clarification 😊