Grizzly Weather turns Polar
Last Sunday saw the 31st Grizzly running event turning polar as the second wave of snow hit the south west.
Race organisers at Axe Valley Running Club were contemplating a difficult decision as the weather took a turn for the worse and they were faced with the prospect of thousands of runners and a legion of voluntary marshalls being stranded in snowy conditions in remote and inaccessible parts of the East Devon countryside.
The Grizzly, which in the best of conditions can be treacherous, is a race of 20 miles that starts and finishes in Seaton and crosses beaches, streams, bogs, and cliffs. It is known nationally as an extremely tough event and is hugely popular, usually attracting 2000 runners from across the country, with entry tickets in high demand.
On Saturday with an amber weather warning in place the Grizzly Committee decided that there would be no full (20 mile) Grizzly, but that a modified Cub route (10m) would be open to all.
Back in Sidmouth there was a bit of debate amongst runners about whether to travel, and 27 runners decided that if the marshalls were going to turn out then so would they. They were not disappointed. Wrapped up against the wind and snow 1200 runners set off on the shortened race with high spirits. Not long into the race conditions deteriorated quickly so that by the time Sidmouth runners got to Branscombe the course was shortened to 9 miles
Sidmouth Running Club Chairman, Terry Bewes, said ‘What an absolutely brilliant day, a once in a life time experience. The camaraderie amongst the runners was fantastic and the marshalls were amazing, stuck out there in freezing blizzard conditions at times, handing our water, directing us on the route and being so supportive. They all had a smile on their faces for us and enjoyed asking if we wanted ice in our water!’
Sidmouth Runners delivered some good times, despite the appalling weather, with Antony Hall leading the Sidmouth team charge in 1:14:38. Jessica Raynor was Sidmouth’s first lady home in 1:23:07. John Keast and Joe Kent acted as sweepers, running the route to ensure no one got left behind or lost in the blizzard.
First man home was David Green (1:01:06) and First lady home was Kirsteen Welch (1:13:40) who was treated to a “powerful sales pitch” before the start from Charlotte Forrer to get her to join the Sidmouth Running club. Further encouragement from the Club Chairman and Kirsteen is the Club’s newest recruit.
The Grizzly organisers said, ‘Massive well done to all of you hardy 1200 runners who completed the Grizzly Cub today in the toughest conditions of the 31 Grizzly events. A huge thank you to all the marshals that made today possible- you really raised the bar.’
Terry Bewes said, ‘Huge respect to race director Tony Smith for the very difficult decisions he took and all his helpers who gave us a fantastic experience. The drive home was quite an experience too. Was it worth the t-shirt? Absolutely YES.’
Antony Hall 01:14:38, Gary Anning 01:23:03, Jessica Raynor 01:23:07, Danny Painter 01:22:49, Mark Welland 01:24:55, Adrian Clode 01:27:22, Nigel Maeer 01:28:14, Charlotte Forrer 01:31:04, Jim Forrer 01:31:11, Julian Bartlett 01:31:10, Graham Sheppard 01:33:33, Els Laureys 01:47:11, David Chipping 01:47.20, Alan Colwill 01:51:01, Sasha Colwill 01:51:02, Lynda Hawkins 01:52:06, Kaylee Hawkins 01:52:05, David Wright 01:53:43, Helen Palmer 02:07:26, John Sharples 02:17:38, Greg Ward 02:17:41, Kat Hall 02:16:57, Terry Bewes 02:24:39, Suzi Rockey 02:24:39, Bethany Wells 02:30:12, Joe Kent 02:39:09, John Keast 02:39:10.
Thanks to Terry Ife and to everyone else for their photos.