By Chris Webber
The race came about from a suggestion by Mary Morton to the chairman of Chagford Lions Club that, as part of the 1977 Queen’s Silver Jubilee celebrations, a race should be held which included running up and down Meldon and Nattadon hills.
This was agreed and the inaugural “Two Hills Race”- a distance of just over three miles was planned for Tuesday 7th June 1977; the race to start from the Jubilee Field with the winner receiving a cup presented by the Traders Association.
Initially the race and the carnival were organised by the Lions Club, but within a few years a carnival committee was formed which continued to run the Two Hills Race until 2018 when its organisation was taken over by The Chagford Running Club.
The first race attracted over 30 entrants and the winner was Ian Hill. The under 15 winner was Peter d’Albiac and hero of the day was Robin Rhodes who at age 6 romped round the course and was by no means last. The race in 1978 recorded Louise Winsor as the first lady winner. By 1982 an all-comers trophy was added and, in this year, the reigning carnival Queen Julie Ford had to present herself with the cup for the first Chagford lady.
Until 1986 the race had been run in August, but problems caused by the height of the bracken, gorse and brambles prompted the committee to bring the race forward to the second May Bank Holiday – a date that has remained until this day.
Brian Lambert has to date competed in all but two of the 40 races, winning trophies in most of them! He and his wife Zelda have been amazing supporters of the race often donating extra prizes at their own expense.
1989 recorded the fastest time for the race being run from the Jubilee Field. This was by Barry Knight with a time of 23 mins 34 secs.
Although Barry’s parents lived in Chagford he was recorded as a non resident as he was living in Torquay; his time was 1min 23secs quicker than the previous best.
In 1991 Porky Ralph and Gary Mortimore ran the race dressed as a pantomime horse and 8 year old Matthew Shields raised £64 for the RNLI.
1993 provided our first international runner with Dickson Bor from Kenya taking the all-comers trophy.
In 1996 the “Two Hills Race” transferred to the new sports ground at Padley Common. This resulted in a safer (almost all off road) albeit slightly longer race. However, it provided spectators with greatly improved views of the race.
In 2000 a special Millennium medal was presented to each runner who finished. The first Chagford male home on that day was Andrew Crock and the first Chagford female was Alison Hirst. The following year the race had to be cancelled owing to an outbreak of foot and mouth disease among cattle.
The present race record from the new sports ground is held by James McMullan from Surrey with a time of 24 mins 29 secs. The race now attracts upwards of 200 entrants. Spectators and runners also enjoy the added attractions of a hog roast, bouncy castle, car boot sale, plus catering and bar facilities.
Finally, I must mention those people who have given their time to organise, marshal, mark the course, provide catering, supervise childrens’ sports and clear up. Without them the Two Hills Race would not happen.
This year the Two Hills Race takes place on Monday 28th May, entry forms are available from Chagford Pharmacy and the Uptown store or online firstname.lastname@example.org. Entries close at midday on Friday 25th May.