DARTMOOR Discovery onlookers in Princetown were thrilled on Saturday 8 June, as 23-year-old newcomer to the race Joshua Benford (Bideford AC), came within two minutes of breaking the legendary course record, set back in 2014.

Joshua’s time of 3:31:19 marks him as an outstanding prospect in the ultra-distance running world. The course record of 3:29:24 was set by John Ward, another Bideford runner.

Ladies’ winner Naomi Flanagan (Torbay Tri Club) had an equally impressive run, storming round the course in a time of 4:00:29. Naomi’s stunning time was just 37 seconds outside the ladies’ course record, set last year by Exeter Harrier Kirsteen Welch. Naomi finished fourth overall, underscoring the quality of her performance.

Race Director Liz Barnett, of Teignbridge Trotters, the organisers, said: “Congratulations to Joshua and Naomi. Winning times like these are tremendously exciting for the Dartmoor Discovery and for ultra-distance running as a whole. The quality of athletes we’re welcoming to Dartmoor just keeps getting better and better. I’m confident we’ll see records tumble in the coming years.”

Last year’s winner, Joe Beaton of Tavistock AC, was second, finishing in 3:37:17. Long Eaton RC runner Mark Boot came third, in a time of 3.38.27. Such was the high standard at this year's race, that Joe and Mark’s times were the fastest ever recorded for those positions in the event’s history. Alison Thorn of Erme Valley Harriers was second lady, finishing in 4:32:44. Looe Pioneer Jo Robinson was third, in a time of 4:37:46.

Barnett went on to say this: “While it’s always exciting to mark the achievements of the wonderful athletes at the front of the race, the true heart of the Dartmoor Discovery lies with the many runners who return year after year, turning in wonderful performances throughout the ability range.”

This year, 197 finishers crossed the line, out of a starting line-up of 208 runners.

The DD traditionally attracts keen competition for the highly prized team trophies. In the men’s event, Tavistock AC lifted the coveted trophy for the first time in the club’s history, thanks to the efforts of Joe Beaton, Adam Holland (4:27:30) and Ian Trice (5:07:35). The Looe Pioneers won the ladies’ trophy for the second year running. Led by Jo Robinson, the team also featured strong performances from Emma Langstaff (5:09:07) and Jenny Cartwright (6:08:10).

Running for the Teignbridge Trotters were: James Long (4:07:28), Kris Ward (4:29:58), Steve Weeks (5:03:04), Jason Trevenen (5:13:33), Andy Gillson (5:15:35), Alan Boone (5:36:29), Rachel Steele (5:40:55), Claire McKenna (5:40:55), Lucy Evans (6:45:00) and Sue Tremlett (6:45:00).

This year’s sponsors were Sibelco, the Ilsington Country House Hotel, M I Plant, Dartmoor Brewery and Empire Scaffold.