Few events can have caught amateur runners’ imaginations like the Axe Valley Runners’ Seaton based “Grizzly”. It is basically a mainly off-road Marathon but while many have tried to match its combination of meticulous organisation and quirkiness it remains unique in its ability to please runners of all abilities. As usual Exmouth Harriers had a number of representatives in this year’s race on 10 March. With Final results not yet available some times are approximated to the nearest minute only. Second claim member, Tom Merson was 2nd by just 4 seconds in 2:24:11. In 13th and in a time of 2:43:39 was Lympstone based fire-fighter Mike Musgrove who produced the performance his hard work in training merited, and which also won him 2nd place in the Over 40 category. Dave Stone is an old hand at the Grizzly. Nevertheless 25th in 2:49:7 and 3rd Over 40 is probably more than a good day at the office, even for Dave. Jon Croome is something of a specialist in multi-terrain racing but still would have been more than satisfied with 86th place (16th Over 45) and a time of 3:07:19. First female Exmouth Harrier was the club’s current Athlete of the Year, Hannah Bown, not resting on her laurels, achieving 143rd in 3:15 and 10th woman. Like most runners Terry Oldham would not often stand out and in cycling might be called a “domestique” but he puts the miles in and 10th place in his over 55 section was a pretty impressive, his overall position being 387th and his time 3:43. There were five more Harriers who finished and before noting their times and positions they of course ran just as far over just as many hills and got just as dirty! Emma Dupain finished 454th in 3:48 and was 49th Woman. Nic Brown was 458th in 3:50 and was 87th Man Over 40. Lorraine Croome 541st with 3:54:30 and made the top 100 women with 70th, and was 14th woman over 45. Martin Richard finished right in the middle of the field in 735th place of 1447 finishers. Jean Cooper just missed out on the top 1000 with 1090th, 237th woman and a time of 4:44.
And below here a report and some photos by avid Grizzly-ite, Terry Oldham, gives you a real flavour of this very unique and special event:
If you know about the Grizzly, then that is all you need to know. If you don’t know, then there is a lot to learn! Those that took part in the 2013 Grizzly run on Sunday, 10th March, 2013, from Seaton, organised by Axe Valley Runners, on a 20.25 mile loop over to Beer, Branscombe, and the valleys and hills leading off, will either have had an experience they may not wish to repeat, or like many a competitor, they will come back to repeat it year after year. To add to the usual mix, this year had the weather to contend with as well, with the temperature dropping during the race, and the wind picking up, so providing a bracing and very cold head wind on the return to Seaton.
This is a run that packs a Grizzly punch, with shingle beach, hills, valleys, streams, and yet more shingle beach. It will push you hard whatever pace you run at, and one can only respect those runners who are heading the pack. One of those was Tom Merson, Exmouth Harrier, who has returned to peak performance recently, and this showed as he came in to finish second in a very tight race with Hasting AC runner, Jeff Pyrah. The battle commenced from the get go as they left the start line at Seaton and straight on to the beach for half a mile, before hitting the roads over to Beer, from there it was field paths, open fields, beach, hills, woodland trails and then back to the ‘Stairway to Heaven’ which raises you straight from the beach at Branscombe up to Beer Head. The last few miles then drop down to Beer and back along roads to the finish at Seaton. And after of all that? There were only 4 secondsbetween them, 1st place in 2:24:07 and second in 2:24:11, so a right royal battle indeed.
Notable performances too from fellow Exmouth Harriers, Mike Musgrove, 13th position (2:43:39), and Dave Stone, 25th (taking part in his 15th Grizzly) (2:49:07), Jonathan Croome 86th (3:07:19), and Hannah Bown, first Exmouth Harriers lady, in 143rd (3:13:56) and 10th lady overall. Other Harriers taking part were: Mark Thompson 171st(3:19:50), Terry Oldham, 387th (3:42:11), Emma Dupain, 454th and Ben White 455th (both 3:47:11), Nick Brown 458th (3:49:30), Lorraine Croome 541st (3:56:10), Martin Richards 735th (4:10:00), Jean Cooper 1090th and Jane MacDonald 1092nd (both 4:43:29). There were 1447 finishers.
An unfamiliar sight for Dave: a rear view of Mike's vest! Near the start of the Grizzly.
Jean Cooper, enjoying some time on the beach in freezing cold conditions!
Life's a beach for Lorraine Croome... albeit a pebbly one!
Ben and Emma: fresh faced and all smiles at the start!
Ben and Emma: still all smiles at the finish, but not quite so fresh faced!