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How do they do it?

In this day and age where race entry fees can quite easily be up in the twenties or thirties, Minehead Running Club fairly put on a fairly low-key but supremely well-organised race at the end of July each year - the Seaview 17 - which is not only great fun but great value too.


Rumours abound as to the actual length of the course, with the '17' being either the distance of the original race way back when, or maybe it's an 'as the crow flies' measurement, or perhaps the number of miles where you are presented with beautiful views of the sea itself? Take your pick, but I think the actual distance is 21 miles...


You pitch up at West Somerset College, where there is plenty of free parking, and bundle on to one of several coaches to be transported to the start via a hairy 'first gear all the way' climb up the Porlock Hill some 17 (or 21?) miles west.


After a group photo or two and a refreshingly cursory nod to Health and Safety ('Be careful, it's slippy!), the race starts on the cliff top beyond the churchyard and from there it's a delightfully scenic run home, with one long steady climb and one seriously steep ascent up Hurlstone Combe (969 ft) that only the hardiest manage to get to the top of without walking! Don't forget to turn around at this point though, as the views are magnificent.


I ran the race last summer and was so impressed that I was keen to come back, and on Sunday just gone (29th July) took part again.


Although I managed put in a little extra mileage (in the form of three additional sides of a field for good measure - the course is essentially unmarked and you follow the coastal path signposts, but MRC do place a few dayglo arrows at strategic points just to keep runners on track), I improved on my seventh place of last year and came home fourth overall, in 2h 51m.


Mind you, in this current Olympic climate there are no prizes for fourth, I'm just the 'first loser' - d'oh! In fact, the Seaview prides itself on its no prizes / no pomp status, but they really know how to throw a post-race buffet! Coffee, carbs and cakes as far as the eye can see - all very welcome once you've caught your breath.


So all in all a superb race all round, well worth seeking out and making the distance for. Oh, and the entry fee for all this? £7.00 - how do they do it?


Pete Royle