Ultrarunning, ultramarathon news and events

Dartmoor Discovery Race Report 2024

Dartmoor Discovery first three runners

Photo courtesy Dartmoor Discovery


Ladies’ winner Naomi Flanagan also come close to smashing record

Cool conditions favour runners on notoriously tough course

Newton Abbot, June 9, 2024 — Dartmoor Discovery (DD) onlookers in Princetown were thrilled on Saturday (June 8), as twenty-three-year-old newcomer to the race, Joshua Benford of 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 out as an outstanding prospect in the ultra distance running world. The course record of 3:29:24 was set by John Ward, another Bideford AC runner.

Ladies’ winner Naomi Flanagan, of 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 event organisers the Teignbridge Trotters 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.

Race headquarters at Princetown Community Centre was a hive of activity. Many runners and their supporters make a weekend of this much-loved event, enjoying a pasta party on Friday evening, post-race catering and a rejuvenating Saturday evening disco.

Liz Barnett said: ‘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.’

The DD, which starts and finishes in Princetown, is organised by leading South West running club the Teignbridge Trotters. Renowned for breathtaking views, equally breathtaking hills and weather that always surprises, the DD is the UK’s longest single-lap road race. 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).

Behind the scenes, the Teignbridge Trotters fielded an experienced and enthusiastic team to ensure the event was conducted safely and smoothly. An estimated 150 people contributed a wide range of skills, including marshalling, timekeeping and catering. Divine Sound and a2e Medical Services supplied public address and first aid services.

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

About the Dartmoor Discovery: The Dartmoor Discovery takes in some of the most challenging hills in any UK road race. First run in 1998, the race was conceived by Phil Hampton, who continued to organise it until his retirement in 2010. Originally, the course was 34 miles. It was shortened to 32 miles in 2002, to avoid runners having to cross a busy road in Princetown. In 2001, the event was cancelled in response to a severe outbreak of foot and mouth disease across the UK. In 2020, the race was cancelled for the second time in its history, due to a global coronavirus pandemic. Anyone wishing to enter the Dartmoor Discovery should be aware that it is a genuinely tough event aimed at experienced runners who have already completed a marathon. A strict, six-and-a-three-quarter-hour cut-off policy is in place. After this time, race marshals will be withdrawn from the course.

John Ludlam


About the Teignbridge Trotters: The Teignbridge Trotters is one of the South West’s leading running clubs. With more than 200 members and an experienced, fully qualified coaching team, the club is renowned for the friendly welcome it offers to runners of all abilities. In addition to the Dartmoor Discovery, the club stages five races of varying distances throughout the year. For more information, please visit www.teignbridgetrotters.co.uk