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News > General > The Exmoor 2024

The Exmoor 2024

Read all about this year's Exmoor...
26 Apr 2024
Written by Kate Fenton (How)
General
OWBA runners set off at Kinsford Gate
OWBA runners set off at Kinsford Gate

This year’s Exmoor took place on a cold but dry Thursday at the end of the spring term. Staff, students and our OWBA guest runners marched out of the school gates on various routes (some as long as 8 miles!) before meeting at the start lines for the Long, Short and Junior runs. 

For the Long, competitors and spectators gathered at the Polti, as per tradition, to fuel up on a pasty and reminisce about Exmoors past (the days of wading through the icy river, a former Headmaster riding out on horseback and runners negotiating barbed wire fences draped in hessian sacking!) before assembling at Kinsford Gate for the 10-mile run back to the School. Participants of the Short gathered at the slightly more sheltered Heasley Mill for their 6-mile trek to the finish line. 

Five staff runners were also given the chance to join the race this year: Jem Freeman (Brereton), Joe Hastie (Grenville), Cameron Main (Fortescue), Janet Regan (Prep) and Sara Rodriguez-Garcia (Courtenay).  

Congratulations to all runners and thank you to our OWBA participants who turned out in a show of force! Top results as follows: 

OWBA Winners – The Long: 

Men’s                     Ladies 

1. Edward Grecu   1. Bethany Cork (joint) 

2. Simon Austen    1. Charlotte Hall (joint) 

3. Ben Lambert      2. Julia Hall 

OWBA Winners – The Short: 

Ladies 

1. Suzanne Watts (joint) 

1. Ruth Sweetland (joint) 

2. Victoria Brunton  

The Exmoor is West Buckland School’s legendary annual cross-country race open to all students from Year 8 onwards. It’s renowned as the longest and toughest school run in the UK, this year being the 161 edition (only two events have ever been cancelled in the school’s history). While shorter runs were once part of the event, they have gradually faded away over time.  

This year was a special year as we introduced our first-ever Tiny Exmoor Run for the Pre-Prep pupils and a Mini Exmoor Run for Prep pupils (both on Wednesday 20th March) which was a huge success. It was also our inaugural Giving Day, which raised vital funds for more transformational bursaries and outdoor education opportunities across the whole school. The 36-hour online fundraising event was generously supported by former pupils, staff and friends of West Buckland School from all over the world and raised over £80,000 through 275 donors!   

We were touched to receive some lovely Exmoor memories from Sam Wightman (57-63C), who came back to take part in the 2011 Exmoor (pictured in Gallery photos). Sam shares: 

‘I was keen to get at least get a third place [in the Exmoor] as that made one “famous” by being called out in front of the whole school with of course the winner and second place runners! All was going well in what, unbeknown at the time, became my last Exmoor. I was third approaching the school, having I recall overtaken Nick Dennis at Heasley Mill, until Mike Brummell overtook me in the Plantation right near the finish. Some would say that served me right!’ 

A knee injury during rugby practice prevented Sam from taking part in his final Exmoor, a huge blow as he was Captain of Running at the time. Fortunately, things did get better after leaving school: 

‘The knee gradually improved and after leaving, I was able to play rugby and later run quite seriously, completing several marathons and numerous half marathons and shorter distances. 

That said, the knee has never been quite right as the photograph with Nick Adams demonstrates with the support on that left knee!’ (Sam (left) is pictured in the gallery photos with Nick running the Exmoor in 2011). 

 

Huge thanks to everyone who made Exmoor 2024 such a brilliant event! 

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