Antony Hall leads Sidmouth RC contingent home at the 2020 Grizzly
PUBLISHED: 12:35 12 March 2020 | UPDATED: 12:36 12 March 2020
The 2020 ‘Hills Aplenty’, Full and Cub, Grizzly, got underway promptly on a bright, but blustery Sunday morning at 10am, writes Hamish Spence.
With 44 Mighty Green (MG) Sidmouth Running Club members taking part; 28 doing the full Grizzly and 16 opting for the Cub.
There were some super-fast MG runners, some not so super-fast, but definitely all super!
There was mud aplenty, sweat in abundance and a whiff of sheer determination. All were offered a free-high-intensity-wash on the finish line, given with pleasure by our local fire brigade.
With so much rain having fallen over the whole winter, the competitors were in for a very wet and muddy event.
But that has never been a problem for any MG runner, we laugh in the face of muddy events and just say 'bring it on'!
However, before the mud is experienced there is a run along the beach of Seaton.
This is a stony beach and Marshalls have been known to extract any competitor not running this particular stretch!
It's then a flat run along the towns Promenade, with applause and cheering as the runners pass through the start line and head up the steep Castle Hill and onto Beer Road towards Beer.
From Beer the runners go along the coastal paths to Branscombe and then it's time for the mud, bogs, hills and then more mud…much more mud!
After finishing with this section there is another mile of stony Branscome beach to run along and then the infamous 'Stairway to Heaven' to climb.
Before embarking on the last section of this endurance trail run there is a refreshments tent at Beer with cakes, sweats and beer on offer for the victims of Hills Aplenty.
So, feeling refreshed, it was one last short push back to the finish line on Seaton seafront.
Antony Hall was supposed to be taking this race more as a long run training session.
However, his inner competitive voice spoke and told him to get a move on.
In-spite of falling flat on his face in the very first river crossing, he still took three minutes off from his previous attempt.
His average pace was 8:54min/miles and Antony was the first Sidmouth runner to cross the finishing, line taking just 2:57:14 To complete the route.
Richard Summerhayes came 131st in 3:11:14 with Tom Knight not far behind in 140th with a respectable time of 3:20:27.
Ross Walton, 3:35:45, Ronnie Masters, 3:39:57; Dan Prettejohn, 3:55:26; Nicola Dowsing, 3:57; Danny Painter,4:03; Martin Trueman, 4:07; Naomi Garrick, 4:19.
Running together were Charlotte, 4:26:43 and Jim Forrer, slightly later, 4:26:45.
Racing each other over the finish line were Simon Hollyer, 756th, 4:32:06 and Kaylee Hawkins, 768th, 4:33:52.
Charlotte Forrer convinced Bex McDonald to 'upgrade' from Cub to the full Grizzly a couple of months ago. So, leading up to the event, Bex began to worry about biting off more than she could chew!
With the awful weather and various other commitments prior to Sunday, she had not done as many long runs recently as she'd hoped to do. However, on the day all that was forgotten, she just got going. She commented: 'The Grizzly was brilliant, but brutal! You have to see it to believe it in some places.'
She continued: 'Trudging through thigh-high muddy gloop and up forceful streams, not to mention the rope climbing and beach sections. All very much worth the burning hamstrings during the last 10k, at which point it was time to put my head down and get back home before the rain drove in.'
She was very pleased with her first attempt of 4:35, and looks forward to coming back for more next year. She particularly gives thanks to the brilliant team for giving her the confidence to get around!
Next to finish was Carine Silver in 4:56. Carine found this event tough as she was behind in training.
However, running with a friend who came down from Bath really helped and having her sister (from Surrey) who did a spectacular face-plant, required first aid and was possibly the muddiest person out there, lifted her spirits.
They all aimed for a sub five-hour time, and succeeded!
Then in came Graham Sheppard in 5:04 closely followed by Richard King, 5:05:02, Cathy Keast, 5:05:04 and Monica Read in 5:05:06.
Adrian Horne arrived back in 5:10 with David Wright 5:13:27, and Gemma Wiltshire, 5:13:59.
Jane Hemsworth took part in the Grizzly for the first time. She thought it was about time to bite the bullet, but as someone not too keen on mud, it was probably one baptism of fire too far!
She was joined by fellow Mighty Green ladies Helen Palmer, Els Laureys and Millie Frankpitt.
By running together for the majority of the way, the group enjoyed a more leisurely and sociable time giving each other encouragement along the way.
Speaking to many other runners from all over the UK whist negotiating the mud, they found out that for many, that it was the first Grizzly and they were in awe of our beautiful East Devon hills and coastline.
There were cakes, biscuits, sweets and amazingly a beer tent at mile 18.
Jane thought that she must be hallucinating, at the sight of the liquid beverages.
She found that a few mouthfuls of stout at that point was like nectar! She, like others said: 'The conditions were naturally as tough as to be expected and the mud made the beach run seem easy.'
She almost lost a trainer up in the hills when crossing the bog! She learnt her lesson and will make sure laces are tied tighter. She loved the motivational quotes on the signage boards all the way around. Jane crossed the finish line in 6:06:51.
Els and Helen were pleased with their times of 6:06. Millie did her last full Grizzly six years ago and felt that this years should be renamed to '2020 Sweat, Pain and Tears A Plenty'!
She enjoyed the team camaraderie until mile 15 when she insisted, they go on ahead without her (they didn't listen).
After lots of internalised argument with herself she decided at Branscombe that she would pull out!
But, just when she needed it, a lovely runner caught her up, realised how much she was struggling, gave her a gel and a kind pep talk about how she'd done the hard bit.
The kind runner stayed with her all the way back to the finish line. Amelia crossed the line in 6:06:52.
Marshall support was superb and we thanked every Marshall as they stood out in rain, hail and sunshine being incredibly cheerful giving encouragement and directions.
The route was exceptional (as to be expected), with the cakes, sweats and all beverages being gratefully received, definitely aiding the completion of one of the toughest races in the South West. A total of 1,462 runners took part.