Entrants to the Exmoor Beast, who were hoping for a continuation of the Indian summer conditions of late October, woke up to appalling weather. The start had to be delayed an hour, while event organiser Marcus Di Vincenzo evaluated the bleak situation. Storm force gales had already seen one of the event support vehicles blown into a ditch on the high moor and the hold- up turned the registration area at Butlins, Minehead into something resembling a refugee camp. Many riders took advantage of the enforced inactivity and sprawled out on the floor to grab some unexpected relaxation before the off.
Putting the safety of the riders first, Di Vincenzo ordered that the mid section of the 100 mile route be closed and all resources directed to cover the 100 kilometre version. Although some were initially unhappy at being denied the longer challenge, within the first 10 miles it became clear that even attempting the longer route would have put them at severe risk of complete exhaustion or hypothermia. The leg-breaking climb of Dunkery Beacon had already taken its toll, with most entrants forced to walk its fearsome gradient and some already heading back to Minehead.
The weather was some of the worst ever experienced in UK sportive history, with gale force winds gusting at over 50mph and blowing riders off the road while face-stinging, freezing cold rain tested the riders’ resolve to the limit. By the first feed at Simonsbath, where wood burning stoves and hot soup greeted the bedraggled hordes, it was clear Di Vincenzo had made the right call, with some riders having battled for over 4 hours to cover the opening 35 miles.
If the opening had been a nightmare, the final 28 miles were a relative dream, with a turbocharged tail wind pushing many along at over 25mph on the road to Wheddon Cross. The sun even made a late appearance to spur the riders on to the Brendon Hills and the exhilarating descent to Timberscombe.
The final surprise of the day was the indoor finish. The arrival timing mats had been positioned across the wide hallway leading to the deregistration point. Here, riders picked up their certificates and commemorative kit bags ,which appropriately displayed the legend “I tamed the beast”. On such a day, nobody could argue with that.
Statistics for The Beast
641 (37%) chose not to ride.
76 (7%) abandoned.
Fastest male was Andrew Boyd, in 3h 42m 35s.
Fastest female was Jane Cumming, in 4h 10m 14s
Oldest rider was 71
One service vehicle alone dealt with 62 punctures.
2010 Entries open on January 1st