A Runner’s Perspective by Andrew Christopher
As of January 2020 I decided to take on the New Year’s resolution of getting fit and healthy. Having just graduated from university my lifestyle was very much eating junk food and drinking more than one should. At the beginning of the regime I weighed 13 stone 11 lbs which according to NHS BMI I was overweight and only 2.4 BMI points from being classed as obese. It was announced on the 16th March 2020 that the U.K. was put into lockdown and resulted in the closure of gyms by which point I had already lost 10 lbs (weighing 13 stone 1 lbs). I was determined not to let the lockdown win so instead of attending the gym and its classes I started to exercise in my garden and most importantly took up running! My initial route was 3 miles (5km) and started at the Five Bells Inn through Morcombelake, through Ryall and back to the Five Bells Inn (sadly I couldn’t stop for a pint!). It amazed me how quickly my body adapted to running; at first I walked and ran the route and through consistency I was able to run it without stopping. I then started challenging myself further by running 6 miles (10km) from Whitchurch Canonicorum and back, then more so by running 7 ½ miles (12km) from the Five Bells Inn to and around Stone barrow and back via Ryall! I then decided to participate in a more daring challenge, The Dartmoor 12km Trail Race that included multiple knee-deep river crossings and lots and lots of bog! The next adventure that I wanted to embark on was the Team Whitchurch Ride & Stride church fundraiser!
The Start, St Candida, Whitchurch Canonicorum, 12 September 2020, 10:00 am
As I walked through the church gates I was surprised and happy to many so many people (socially distanced) eager to start striding across the Vale and enjoy the scenery that it encompasses. After a bit of chit chat and a photo, the group began striding out of the church grounds, once we passed the war memorial my brother, Angus and myself started running the route. The first leg took us towards the village hall where we turned right on to Becklands Lane leading us to the first section of cross country running! The first leg was ideal to fully warm ourselves up and prepared for the rest of the run as it was predominantly flat. After running past many farm animals (who weren’t disturbed) and next to the River Char we found ourselves next to the A35 and then at Catherston Leweston, our first checkpoint.
Checkpoint A, St Mary’s Church, Catherston Leweston
The first checkpoint saw us stop at St Mary’s Church that was once owned by local manor house and located through the driveway. The church holds up to 30 people and is ideal for small services. After rehydrating and feeling warmed up we decided to begin our second leg to the next check point. This leg had proved to be much more challenging with a total of 93m climb and gradients of up to 20%! With steep climbs come rewards as the trail started to display picturesque views of Charmouth and the surrounding coastline. Towards 4 miles (7km) into the run we could see St Paul’s church in the distance.
Checkpoint B, St Paul’s, Wootton Fitzpaine
St Paul’s is located 1 mile in its village centre and is built within the original grounds of the Manor House. After a quick rest and looking at the church we prepared ourselves for toughest leg of the run, Wootton Fitzpaine to Fishpond Bottom! Climbing 173m and gradient as high as 23% our cadence increased as our stride length decreased! As we ascended further and further the encompassing views the route had to offer became breath-taking (not just because we’d run 6 miles by this point!).
Checkpoint C, St John the Baptist, Fishpond
At last the climb was over (for now) and located in a commanding position, overlooking the beautiful Marshwood Vale, in the hamlet of Fishpond Bottom was St John the Baptist Church. Now ready for our last leg we head towards Abbots Wootton lane, climbed over a gate, and continued the route off road towards Cards Mill Lane. After taking a wrong turning we managed to add an extra 2 ½ miles (4km) to our run where we eventually found Cards Mill Lane leading us back to St Candida, our final destination of the run!
Thank you to everyone for organising the Ride & Stride and thank you to all those that kindly donated. It is amazing to see that we have exceeded our goal by over 30% totalling £1590!!!
I would also like to congratulate my brother, Angus who decided to join at the last minute and hasn’t been running long for embarking 20km, that’s a half marathon!!
Special thanks to my mother, Una, and Grandmother, Helen Gale, who acted as support vehicle for Angus and myself.
Since January 2020 I have lost 2 stones and 3 lbs and now weigh 11 stone and 8 lbs. I have certainly received the mental benefits of exercising, particularly during the lockdown. Exercise and physical activity has been proven to help physical and mental health and also the well being of individuals. Regardless of age, race and gender everyone should feel welcomed to exercise and physical activity.
I look forward to the next Ride & Stride.