Two Dartmoor pensioners complete amazing run across the country

Ben Fox
Ben Fox

Two pensioners from Dartmoor have just completed an amazing run across the north of the country, following Alfred Wainwright’s Coast to Coast Footpath from St Bees on the Cumbrian coast to Robin Hood’s Bay on the North Yorkshire coast line, a distance of 196 miles with a total ascent of about 28,000 feet.

Mike Peace from Lustleigh, who is 69, and Bob Small from North Bovey, who is 71, are both accomplished athletes.

Mike is one of only 10 people to have run every one of the 39 London
Marathons and Bob has just competed for England against the Celtic Countries in a half marathon in his age group of 70-74.

Bob, who has walked the footpath a couple of times, had posed himself the question as to whether it is more tiring to walk the distance or run it.

So Mike and Bob set out to try and answer that question by running the same distance per day that they might normally walk – they were not trying to break any records other than, perhaps, being the oldest pair to do it with a joint age of 140!

In 16 days they covered the ground by doing an average of half a marathon a day. Whilst challenging themselves to the task they also were raising funds for Rowcroft Hospice in Torquay. Mike and Bob were very ably
supported by Bob’s wife Tracy and their black Labrador Lola in a camper van, providing dry, warm clothing at the finish of each day’s run with tea, soup or cold drinks. The footpath covers every kind of terrain from the Lakeland fells and mountains to the flat, rural countryside of the Vale of Mobray, then the Pennines and the North York Moors.

Other than snow and ice, they encountered all types of weather conditions but the weather was, in general, very kind to them with a number of very hot, sunny days with temperatures in excess of 20 C.

Bob said “This was quite a tough challenge but, generally, we had very good weather which made a huge difference.

‘We were really delighted with the support we received along the way for Rowcroft Hospice and how generous people were. Oh, and one last thing – it’s more tiring to run the footpath than it is to walk it – and that’s official!”

Mike said “Challenging it certainly was. Some terrain was too steep or unstable to run (rocks and peat bogs) whilst other surfaces were pleasantly forgiving.

‘The weather was a blessing (on the whole); the people we met were amazing (from all over the world); the sights and views were incredible AND on balance it was marginally better to run it (basically because we had longer rests, and shorter pains).

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