Once upon a time (Saturday 7 March around 2pm) there was a giant Humpty Dumpty chocolate egg perched on a big wall of cake in Dartmouth’s Market Square. He was there to welcome a rather dishevelled bunch of Bo Peeps, little pigs, beanstalks, cows, cats, spoons and moons cross the finish line after pounding through the South Devon countryside as part of the 2015 Delicious Dart Trail, which this year’s theme for fancy dress is Nursery Rhymes and Fairy Tales .
By the time the 350 fanciful participants arrive in Dartmouth (assuming they make it that far) runners will have sipped, savoured and nibbled a bounty of breads, cheeses, wines, cakes, coffee, pies, ale and juice along the 15 mile trail.
The event, dreamed up by Kate Treleaven, was initially inspired by the Marathon Du Medoc – an annual event in South West France set in the Medoc region’s chateaux and vineyards that she and her husband ran in 2012. “To combine food and drink with running might sound a bit mad at first but, while it is certainly pretty quirky, it’s also great fun and a really engaging way to explore the region.”
Now in its third year, The Delicious Dart Trail has captured the imagination and goodwill of the South Devon community, with food and drink producers and businesses giving their time and produce freely along with an army of volunteer stewards who help the day go smoothly.
Not only does the Trail give runners something to train for in those dark days of winter, it also raises a significant amount of cash (last year £6,600) for CHICKS, a charity that provides respite breaks at centres in Devon and Cornwall for disadvantaged children from across the UK.
The route starts in the morning with high-energy snacks at The Shops at Dartington, continues through Totnes (croissants at the Waterside Bistro) to Sharpham (Luscombe Organic Drinks, Sharpham wine and cheese). Then it’s up the hill to Ashprington (Durant Arms) Tuckenhay (Watermans Arms and Maltsters) and on to Fingals (Luscombe organic Drinks). In Dittisham (Otter Ale, Quarry Farm Venison) weary but well fed participants will be ferried across the River Dart to Greenway (cider apple ice cream, Dartmouth Ice Cream Company) before tackling the last leg to Noss (dairy delights from Langage Farm) then via Kingswear (Steam Packet Inn) to take the ferry across to finish in Dartmouth (flapjacks and coffee, Café Alf Resco. Fish and chips, Rockfish).
There are no prizes for the fastest runners, just the best fancy dress, most sponsorship raised and a prize for the runner(s) whose deeds on the day best embodies the ‘Spirit of the Trail’.
Although all 350 entries have been snapped up, guests at Hillfield Village are heartily encouraged to join the fun as a spectator – there will be a festive feel from start to finish. Times will be posted on the DDT website. In Dartmouth there will be a spectator trail around the town, a bustling local food market and an after party with live music at the Dolphin Inn. Added to this, the town’s hugely popular Comedy Festival will be in full swing at The Flavel.
As for the giant Humpty Dumpty chocolate egg made by Saveurs in Dartmouth, he will be auctioned to the highest bidder (the proceeds going to CHICKS) while his supporting cake wall will be dismantled, sliced and distributed among tired, but replete runners.