2023's Hilly 50 may be remembered partly for its hot temperatures, which made things even more challenging than usual, but this also meant truly spectacular views of this stunning and wild route. The race was always going to be exciting with Zen Sherley-Dale and Josh Lee returning for the third time after two previous closely contested battles. Zen had taken the victory on both previous occasions but this time an injury meant his race was over before the finish. Josh didn't know this and was running scared for almost the whole of the second half, which propelled him to take a stunning victory and the new course record! His 7:58:42 was the first sub 8 hour time for the Hilly 50. Second place was Zen's friend Phil Weaver, 3rd was Paul Eaton. In the womens' race Kathy Brook took the win and 5th overall with Magdalena Kusmierczyk continuing her excellent form in our races to finish 2nd and ultra legend Maryann Devally 3rd. As ever there were some superb wildlife encounters for the runners, with Maryann telling us of a large herd of deer on the top of a ridgeline near Dunkery Beacon and others telling of ecounters with badgers, red kites and foxes. So many other runners could be mentioned but just a couple - Ed Clements became one of four runners who have now finished all three Westcountry Ultra races and Emma Greig walked every step of the route to finish within the cut-off! Others told us of extra refreshments they had enjoyed along the way - Wayne Wensley and Fintan Murray enjoyed a pint at Porlock Weir on their way round, whilst Andy Burgess, Joanna Gavins and Nicola Kelly opted for a mango sorbet from Horner Tea Rooms :)
We know this is the Hilly 50 but we're afraid there are a few flat sections - it's just that people have complained about the hills on the Flat 50 so maybe this would be an issue too ; )
Starting and finishing in Minehead, this run takes in some of the most brutal climbs you will find in Somerset. To a fell runner from the Lake District this might not seem too imposing but if you're from the south it's probably going to be as challenging as much of what you will find, perhaps unless you're from the Cornish coast. Taking in some of the best of Exmoor with lush ancient woodland, astonishing views from vast cliffs, sweeping moorland and a few more hills just when you thought they were over... well, let's just say you're in for a proper adventure. The winning time has got significantly faster each year so far, which shows that a fair bit of the course is quite runnable, but make no mistake - this is a challenging one. If you want to run 50 miles fast then enter the flat 50, if you want a challenging 50 miler enter the hilly 50
Check out some of the pictures to get an idea of the scenery that awaits you! The coast path climbs, then falls, then climbs again, then goes flat just for a very short time.... the inland sections of the route climb high, drop low, climb high again, maybe go flat for a very short while.... you get the picture. This run is an elaborate four course meal for the senses, taking in some truly mind-blowing scenery - perhaps our most visually stunning race route of all if one had to be chosen. When you get to the finish there will be somewhere comfortable to sit and some lovely snacks and drinks, and because it starts and finishes in the same place your car will be waiting for you, or your lift. If you have time you can hang around and see the 100 milers finish : )
A number of runners reported feeling surprisingly good the day after the hilly 50 in 2019, which is perhaps because the hills give your legs a break from the relentless pounding of flatness. Many reported that it was one of the most stunning courses they had run - if you are quick then you get to see it all in daylight, but if you take longer you should get a magnificent sunset, plus you will be in a dark skies reserve so if it's clear then you will see an absolute carpet of stars across the sky! We had the biggest field yet for the Hilly 50 in 2019 and it made for a wonderful atmosphere. We would love to see even more in 2021.....
EXMOOR FACTS: -
To get an idea of how wonderful the location you'll be racing in is, check out these facts.....
*The tallest tree in England is on Exmoor at Nutcombe Bottom near Dunster. It is a Douglas Fir, and stands a massive 60.5 metres tall - this is taller than Nelson's Column in Trafalgar Square and is the height that two of the largest Blue Whales would be if they stood upright, one on top of the other.
*Exmoor has the highest sea cliffs on the British Mainland, its coast has the highest and lowest tides in Europe, plus it has the longest continuously wooded section of coastline in Britain; some 8 miles of non-stop coastal forest
*Exmoor National Park is an international Dark Sky Reserve, which means it has exceptionally starry skies and a commitment to protecting them. So yes, if you're 70-80 miles into the hundred and struggling through a tough section of the route then if it's a clear night just look up and marvel at the blanket of stars that you'll see... then carry on running, don't just stay staring at the stars indefinitely!
CUT-OFF TIME: -
16 HOURS (This generous cut-off reflects the difficulty of some of the hills)
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 STRICTLY LIMITED TO 100 FOR EACH DISTANCE
WHAT DO YOU GET FOR YOUR MONEY?: -
Medal for all finishers
6 well-stocked aid stations, plus food at the finish
Trophies for winners
Large hall at finish to relax in which will have food, drink, comfortable seating and plenty more
Course markings, full route directions etc.
A front row seat for the finish of the 100 miler/rest of this race if you want to stay
Assistance with transport arrangements to get back to Taunton if needed, tailored to your requirements
Something unique, as this is the Albion Running experience (they say mystically!)
A race through some of Somerset and North Devon's mot awe inspiring scenery
RACE ROUTE: -
The race route for 2019 was as follows (slightly different in 2021 due to Covid) - https://www.strava.com/routes/12957879
It will be the same in 2022 subject to the usual negotiations - final route map will be ready in plenty of time before race day
TRAVEL & ACCOMODATION: -
Minehead is not just a few minutes from the motorway - the later start time is to allow people a chance to drive there on the morning of the race. The simplest route is to take the M5 to Taunton (Junction 25), then take the A358 and then A39 Minehead, which is simple to follow. I would allow up to an hour from when you leave Taunton, although if the traffic isn't bad it should take closer to 40 minutes. Heading south on the M5 you can follow the signposts for the A358 from Junction 25
If you are travelling from far away and have accomodation requirements then let us know what you need and we will help you arrange something
You can catch the number 28 first bus to Minehead from Taunton; there are various times available
If you need any other transport information please ask and we will help answer your queries
SUGGESTED KIT: -
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.
AID STATION LOCATIONS
These were the locations for 2021 - they will be the same in 2022 subject to negotiations; if they change the new info will be here first......
CP1: - BOSSINGTON CAR PARK (Bossington Lane, Bossington, Somerset, TA24 8HQ)
After the ascent of North Hill and the massive descent of Bossington Hill, during which the views will have taken your breath away, you can refuel at this leafy National Trust car park before heading back out along the coast
CP2: - PORLOCK WEIR CAR PARK (Porlock Weir, Somerset, England, United Kingdom, TA24 8PB)
This is the main car park at Porlock Weir, and is just before you get into the woods to head up to Culbone Church, which is the smallest church in England! There are 24 hour public toilets at the car park and there is always a great atmosphere
CP3: - WEBBER'S POST, nr. DUNKERY BEACON (Luccombe, Nr. Porlock, Somerset, TA24 8TD)
Webber's Post car park is at the top of a big climb through the forest; it's impossibly atmospheric and is not too far from Dunkery Beacon - the highest hill in Somerset, and really the final big climb of the race
CPs4, 5 and 6 are Webber’s Post, Porlock Weir and Bossington again
FURTHER RACE INFO (Please e-mail email@example.com to get a copy of the full race info if you don't have it)
Registration will open at 9am and will be at the West Somerset College on Bircham Road, Minehead (TA24 6AY.) This will also be the finish location for the race. You will collect your race number here on the day and there will be safety pins available. The race briefing will take place at around 10:20am with the race starting at 10:30am. There will be toilets available at the start. The official cut-off for the race is 2:30am on Sunday 15th May but this is not strictly enforced as we, including the volunteers, are still waiting for 100 mile runners all night and into the next day so please don’t stress if you’re out on the course and you know you’re going to be longer as long as you will finish within a reasonable number of hours past the cut-off (i.e. if you’re getting overtaken by the last 100 mile runners we may have to retire you from the race but otherwise don’t worry!)
There is plenty of car parking at the registration location,
Parking will be at West Somerset College, Bircham Road, Minehead (TA24 6AY.) Please park at the front of the college if there is space but if there is not please drive down to the sports hall car park, which you reach by driving past the college building on the right-hand side.
If you want an informal buddy runner for parts of the route that’s fine, especially for anyone who would feel reassured by this during the night, but due to the remote nature of quite a bit of this course it may be difficult logistically – they are your responsibility (and their own) and must not obstruct other runners in any way.
If you want family/friends to meet you at various points along your way as a crew then this is permitted. 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 😊