Baker's Exmoor race record is staggering

James Baker won the Exmoor Stagger - to his partial surprise
James Baker won the Exmoor Stagger - to his partial surprise

Chichester ace James Baker made his annual pilgrimage to Minehead for the 12th running of the 15.1-mile Exmoor Stagger.

It’s so called as the course starts at sea level and climbs to the highest point on Exmoor, the famous Dunkery Beacon, before descending to the finish.

First lining up for the race in 2010, Baker has stamped his authority on the event in equal measure to his domination of the Chichester Half Marathon, which poses a similar challenge.

Having won in each of the previous nine years, Baker was keen to make it ten in a row and was delighted to achieve the feat crossing the line in 1hr 50min 56sec, 45 seconds ahead of his nearest rival.

Baker thought that his chance had gone as a 2hr 36 marathon runner from Weston AC was ahead for much of the race but the event requires a degree of navigation on the part of the athletes and Baker’s attention to detail was rewarded when the man in front missed a turning and lost a few hundred metres.

This should not detract from Baker’s achievement, however, as the pair were a full ten minutes ahead of the rest of the field and Baker has now accounted for more than half the sub two-hour times in the history of the event.

The 42-year-old will be hoping he can stay fit and competitive until the Chichester Half in 2021 to make it ten in a row on his home course.

A footnote to the multi-race winner, who is now well past 900 race wins over all terrains and distances ... not wanting to miss an opportunity, Baker won the Upton House parkrun in Poole on his way to the west country.