Ashby leads Sidmouth runners home at the 2014 Grizzly

Lewis Brown from Sidmouth Running Club stretches before the Grizzly run. Picture by Alex Walton. Ref

Lewis Brown from Sidmouth Running Club stretches before the Grizzly run. Picture by Alex Walton. Ref shsp 7430-11-14AW. To order your copy of this photograph go to and click on Photo Orders - Credit: Archant

After all the recent rain and last year’s snow for the Grizzly, runners were faced with some last minute challenges, writes Helen Palmer.

What was that yellow thing in the sky, why did I put on a top with sleeves and where did we put the sunscreen?

The weather for the 27th running of the Grizzly was glorious. It seemed to add to the smiles and excitement at the start as old friends bumped into each other and Grizzly virgins wondered what they had let themselves in for. It also seemed like the whole of East Devon had turned up to enjoy the beautiful weather, fabulous views, ice creams and to cheer on family and friends.

This annual event put on by Axe Valley Runners under a new race director was as well organised as ever. The town of Seaton embraces runners from all over the world (particularly from Maastricht and Berlin this year) with the Junior races on Saturday and the main event on the Sunday. This year’s race was entitled ‘Withering Heights, (Featuring Heath and Cliff !) and as their blurb says it is ‘20 ish muddy, hilly, boggy, beachy miles of the multiest-terrain running experience you will find this side of the end of time. Whatever it isn’t, it is certainly an experience.

The bogs which are on private land are for many the highlight of the run. Luckily this year they were quite watery which made moving knee deep a little easier but the screams and splashing sounds suggested that a few came to a sticky end. The Cub run is approximately 9 miles and featuring hills and beach it is a tough challenge in itself. All runners saw the devastation from the recent storms as they passed the beach huts at Branscombe perched perilously above the rocks, having been undercut by the ferocious seas.

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This years’ outstanding Sidmouth club run was by Justin Ashby who came 17th in a time of 2.40.47 and was pleased to take revenge on Mateusz Szala who pipped him at this year’s Four Trigs and who came in at 2.49.39. Running in memory of Tom Chesters was his brother, Ben, and Tom’s friend Sam Morris who flew in from Geneva for the race. They were running for the National Osteoporosis Society who were supporting Tom’s PHD research and because Tom loved the Grizzly. One of them commented: “mostly because it was horrible!”

Their time of 2.54.36 indicated that perhaps they enjoyed their run. Other runners were Joe Kent 3.33.18, Lewis Brown 3.44.33, Kit Denning 3.44.10, Rocker 3.55.05, Naomi Garrick 4.01.09 and a stunning run by Abbi Lee 4.10.17. Danny Painter was 4.11.38, Helen Palmer 4.25.10, David Palmer 4.25.13, Lynda Hawkins 4.29.06, Cathy Keast (aka Delia) 4.44.52 and Monica Read 4.44.56. Peter Bagwell was also somewhere there amongst the finishers. Running in the Cub were Katie Kent in 1.56.23 and Sarah Burston 2.02.54.

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As always the support of family and friends helps the runners as they keep going fuelled by jelly babies and sweets. Abbi Lee probably had the biggest number of supporters round the course but the marshals and water stations are fabulous with their encouragement and make the day an all round great experience.

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