The Full Grizzly “Hills Aplenty”.
The 2020 Hills Aplenty, Full and Cub Grizzly got underway promptly on a bright, but blustery Sunday morning at 10am. With forty four Mighty Green Sidmouth Running Club members taking part, twenty eight doing the Full Grizzle and sixteen 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 shear determination. All were offered a free-high-intensity-wash on the finish line, given with pleasure by our local Fire Brigade writes Hamish Spence.
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 Mighty Green 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 stoney 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 stoney 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 2h57m14s to complete the route. Richard Summerhayes came 131st in 3h11m14s with Tom Knight not far behind in 140th with a respectable time of 3h20m27s. Ross Walton 3h35m45s, Ronnie Masters 3h39m57, Dan Prettejohn 3h55m26, Nicola Dowsing 3h57m, Danny Painter 4h03m, Martin Trueman 4h07m, Naomi Garrick 4h19m. Running together were Charlotte 4h26m43s and Jim Forrer slightly later in 4h26m45s. Racing each other over the finish line were Simon Hollyer in 4h32m06s (765th) and Kaylee Hawkins in 4h33m52s (768th).
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”. Continuing, “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 4h35m, 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 4h56m. 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-5 hrs and succeeded. Then in came Graham Sheppard in 5h04m closely followed by Richard King 5h05m02s, Cathy Keast 5h05m04s and Monica Read in 5h05m06s. Adrian Horne arrived back in 5h10m with David Wright 5h13m27s, and Gemma Wiltshire 5h13m59s.
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 6h06m51s. Els and Helen were pleased with their times of 6h06m. Millie did her last full Grizzly 6 years ago and felt that this years should be renamed to 2020 Sweat, Pain & 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 6h06m52s.
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 1462 runners took part.
A very fast young Toby de Gruchy took the 1st place in the Grizzly Cub, completing the route in a very speedy 1h07m57s. This means that SRC retains this crown for the second year running. Then in 5th place was Ben Chesters with a fabulous time of 1h13m10s and not far behind Ben was Tim Dafforn. Tim felt he’d had a very good race, renaming himself as Mr Consistent for improving his three seconds faster than last year’s time. He tried very hard to keep up with Ben Chesters, but lost sight of him on the cliff path to Branscombe. Tim had a quick ‘comical’ fall near the beach and tried to save a bit back for his return trip to the finish line. He took 10th place in a time of 1h18m19s.
Greg Ward did very well coming 75th in 1h35m30s and Sue Coleman who was aiming for a sub 2 hour time, was thrilled that her impersonation of a penguin sliding down to Branscombe beach didn’t stop her quest. She arrived back in 1h45m11s. Kathrine Hall did herself proud by knocking around two and a half minutes from last years time. An extremely muddy Kat arrived back on the line in 1h47m and was immediately hosed down by the fire brigade. Really enjoying himself and showing it, was John Sharples who was 184th and took 1h51m41s. Next in were Derek Blackburn in 1h57m, Paula Farrand 2h01m36s, Sam and Nick Dicks who ran together and both arrived back in 2h01m43s. Bert Dykema did very well in his longest race for a few years arriving back in 2h11m.
Suzi Rockey, Catherine Cruise, Sarah Burston and Terry Bewes ran as a group. Suzi who was recovering from an injury hit the pain barrier near the end, but came through with a 2h19m47 time with Catherine at 2h19m48 and Sarah Burston 2h19m54s. Terry who has done 10 full Grizzlies over the years and was glad to do the Cub managed a time of 2h19m55s. This was Julia Haddrell’s first Grizzly Cub and she found out what an energy sapping start on pebbles was like! However, not to be deterred she kept her spirits high and enjoyed the fabulous views when on the tops of the hills and grabbed a time of 2h33m46s. There were a total of 587 competitors.
Official photos can be found and purchased here: