Sidmouth runners tackle the Grizzly

Sidmouth running club members before the start of the Grizzly run 2015. Ref mhsp 3892-10-15TI. Pictu

Sidmouth running club members before the start of the Grizzly run 2015. Ref mhsp 3892-10-15TI. Picture: Terry Ife - Credit: Archant

On Grizzly day in Seaton, everything else comes to a full stop as the Town focuses on the race for the whole day, writes John Perratt.

The fun actually starts on the Saturday with some races for the children and we were even represented there with Charlie Broderick, Ella and Lily Bryant from our Saturday morning group performing well in the 2k Run.

All eyes were on the weather Sunday morning but the forecast looked promising with a bright and sunny start followed by rain in the early afternoon. And so it was to be - with a 10.30am start, conditions were perfect with an apparent biting wind not affecting the runners at all and the quicker runners all made it back before the rain set in. Those however, caught in it later didn’t seem to mind and were all remarkably cheerful as they crossed the line to be greeted by the Fire Brigade to get some of the mud off, a banana from Tesco’s, a T-shirt to prove they ‘dun it’ and then to be re-united with their friends, family members and fellow runners.

What then is the attraction of the Grizzly? It is tough, scenic, muddy and a challenge for anyone. Everyone though looks for something different. Some have a target time, others just want to finish it, but the most endearing quality seems to be the pleasure of running with friends or even people that you meet up with on the run.

Sidmouth Running Club was well represented and Terry Bewes led a group of ladies, or perhaps they led him. We are not sure. I presume their target time was around five hours and it was spot on that time that Terry, Monica Read, Helen Palmer and Cathy Keast crossed the line. All their Saturday morning training runs had paid off at last!

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Just behind that group, but keeping to themselves were Debbie Marriot and Don Cawthera whilst mother and daughter, Lynda and Kaylee Hawkins, who are seen at a lot of races these days, always together, clocked up a very impressive four hours 16.13 minutes

Pushing themselves a little harder were two of the Saturday morning dads, Chris Perry who must have been delighted to beat the three-hour mark and Gordon Bryant on 3.34.57. Between them were Danny Painter (3.15.59) who hasn’t raced for some time and Joe Kent (3.18.47) who is now making an impression as a useful runner despite his seemingly casual approach to the task in hand.

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Alan Colwill likes this race, although we never see him training. He obviously though, had done enough to ensure that he finished a couple of minutes ahead of our first lady, Naomi Garrick (3.51.49).

Graham (Digger) Shephard had a bad run, picking up an injury somewhere along the route, and he finished in a great deal of pain in what I am sure is a disappointing time for him (4.22.33).

Completing our contingent in the main race was Brigid McElenery-Smith, competing for the first time in a Sidmouth vest, and she should be proud of her 4.44.22 finishing time.

There were though, two shocks earlier on in the day as we waited for the first runners to come back after completing the shorter ‘Cub’ race.

With a distance of around nine miles it still incorporates a lot of running along the beach, plenty hills and the notorious climb up the infamous ‘Stairway to Heaven’.

The first runner spotted coming down the hill to the finish on the Esplanade had a familiar gait and an even more familiar vest. It was none other than Justin Ashby who for this year has opted out of the marathon scene and has decided to give the shorter distance a go. A win in the Cub is then a significant feather in his cap!

The next shock was to see another familiar face, as Ben Chesters came into view. With a long orienteering event the day before he had decided to give the race a miss this year, but when a number for the Cub became available on the Saturday evening he did not need much persuasion to snap it up!

A sixth place was his reward out of the 445 runners (as opposed to the 1500 finishers in the Main race).

Kerry Boyle ran strongly to finish 28th in 1.29.22 and in 39th position just two minutes later was Katie Kent, who finished happily whilst her husband Joe was somewhere around the far reaches of the longer race, probably at that time negotiating the pleasures of the two bogs that are so much a feature of the day. Brian Gosling (1.50.30) completed our club interest in the day finishing well up in the top half of the field.

Thank you, Seaton, the Axe Valley Runners and the large number of people who gave up so much of their time to make this such an iconic event on the running calendar.

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