Race Report: Bewl 15


2023 Bewl 15 Report

There is yin and yang at the Bewl 15. They should call it the “Beware Bewl 15”.

Runners get lulled by the village setting of Wadhurst, the promise of cake and beer, a brass band playing in a field, and an easy downhill start while butterflies flutter over the gently swaying meadows. It is a landscape of true, unspoilt beauty, and as the dark blue waters of Bewl glisten under the summer sun, a fisherman quietly pootles along in a little wooden boat. He has the right idea. This is the yang.

But as the miles rack up, Bewl 15 begins to reveal its darker self, the yin. Just as the legs begin to tire, past the 10-mile marker, the route diverts participants away from the gently-lapping water’s edge, away from tranquil picnics under shading branches, and up a long climb into purgatory. The sunshine that lights up the reservoir becomes the oppressor, burning runners into the unyielding tarmac.

Then, finally, back to the cool of the woodland trails as the finish nears, but what goes down must come up (or something like that), and that welcoming downhill start becomes the last, brutal test. Overwhelming yin.

A hardy team of 11 Harriers took to the Bewl 15 this year, led by the irrepressible David Weston, who finished 14th from a field of 569 finishers, in an exceptional time of 1:44:05. Kelvin Desmoyers-Davis also defied logic, and despite beer drinking and hell raising the night before, somehow found the energy to finish 44th with a fantastic PB of 1:52:53. Lucille Joannes shone as usual, finishing third in the F65s in 2:51:12, and Richard Craig-McFeely top-tenned in the M55s (8th), finishing in 2:09:00 on an impressive race debut.

The deckchair contingent was ably boosted by Robin Barwick, Clifford Gray, Duncan Ralph, Sue Cooper, Phil Watkins and Mark Crowhurst, and although Hugh Stephenson appeared in Bob’s TWH results, he sported the green and black of his new club, Hastings Runners, for the first time. The yellow-and-blue stripes also appeared in Bewl’s first ever five-mile race, with Colin Ricketts finishing second M55 in 42:58, from a field of 88 finishers.

A Sussex Grand Prix event, the Bewl 15 is organised very professionally by Wadhurst Runners and Nice Work, with our own Michael Youlton and Mark Taylor among the event team. “Keep to the right!” shouted Michael as we crowded the narrow lane at the start (but we edged to the left). The winning male in the 15-miler was Smith Marshall of Ashford AC (1:27:11) and first female was Tori Alikham (1:51:59), while the 5-miler was won by Declan O’Callaghan of Best Athletics (34:55) and first female was Alice Ralph of Tonbridge AC (37:26).

Robin Barwick