The SALMON RUN DAY
8 relay sections, 7 changeover locations, 9 ceremonial invocations, many dates slices, several pubs by several lovely bridges, 74 runners and 50 miles over fields and down roads up and down hills and by the river, the salmon (Samantha) was passed from hand to hand from sea to moor all in the space of approx 9 hours on September 25th 2022.
As a keystone species, the subject of centuries of folklore and an iconic species in the Exe, the Uk and the world the salmon has much to tell us about our changing environment and our relationship with the natural world. Numbers of salmon are dramatically down since the 1980s due to multiple factors. In an ideal world a salmon run is the surge upstream of salmon to the spawning grounds from waiting pools in the estuaries and lower parts of the river in response to ideal quantities of water provided by reliable quantities of rain, leaping up over manageable cataracts to arrive at gravel beds in clear water. We took this opportunity to empathise with the salmon by running with them to hear their story as we collectively carried our salmon up along the Exe river in a relay of teams. We ran with the salmon.
The day began in Exmouth and ended at Tarr Steps. On the way there were sections of betweem 10 and 1 miles becoming a large community run in Exeter where runners encountered salmon experts from The West Country Rivers Trust, the University of Exeter and the Royal Albert Memorial Museum. As the salmon was passed from team to team a small celebratory salmon invocation was delivered by a master of ceremonies. We had a lot of fun while thinking of the amazing reslience of the Atlantic salmon.
This was funded by Creative Arc and Creative Peninsula. Creative Arc is a partnership of Exeter City Council, The Univeristy of Exeter and the Royal Albert Memorial Museum. Our thanks to all who took part.
Here are some photos of the day as it progressed.
Samantha emerged from the sea for her journey with us.
Welcome Silver Leapers! 8.30 am: The salmon is ceremoniously handed over by Tony Lydington, master of ceremonies to start the run. 10 miles to Salmon Pool.
Look closely and you can see the first 2 runners arriving at Salmon Pool. 35 runners are ready to run the 3.5 km to Blackaller weir once the salmon has been passed on.
Samantha is passed to the eager runner.
2 young runners arrive at Blackaller weir 3.5 km later
Lots of salmon knowledge available at Blackaller from experts from RAMM, the Exeter University and the West Country Rivers Trust.
At Exwick the team receives the salmon before they leave for Thorverton.
Team arriving in Thorverton for handover.
Handover (slightly reluctant) at Bickleigh. This team ran 4 miles!
Runners arrive in Tiverton to a crowd and a samba band
Handover at Tiverton in the middle of a food festival.
Off road running increased as the run progress up the Exe. These guys are nearing the end of their 10 miles.
Handover at Exebridge for the final leg to Tarr Steps.
Dulverton bridge about to enter the dark, mostly uninhabited and beautiful forest that rises to Hawkridge
Over the day the scedule slip by nearly an hour which meant the head torches became essential. Here the runners arrive at the final stop on Tarr Steps bridge.
The final invocation followed by the salmon’s return to the river by Michelle, fly fisherwoman, who walk off upriver into the dark with Samantha.
Video of the salmon ceremonial invocation
salmon and runners passing through the countryside on the ExeValley Way.