The Grizzly – 2020 Hills Aplenty

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:

Beating the Covid Blues – 3

Beating Those Exe to Axe Covid Blues (Part Three)
   Sunday the 5th of April 2020 and many Mighty Greens were to take part in the JP’s Exe to Axe race along the Jurassic Coastal Path from the RLNI station at Exmouth, to the Promenade of Seaton. However, the dreaded Covid Virus put an abrupt end to that writes Hamish Spence!
   Fortunately, as a population we are still allowed (at the time of writing this), to take a daily breath of fresh air and have some exercise in and around our own local areas, as long as we abide by the social distancing rules. ** (fullfact . org states… You can leave the house to exercise once a day. The government has said you should use open spaces near to your home where possible, and advised against unnecessary travel for exercise (such as driving to a national park or beauty spot). 
   This weekend (4th and 5th of April) was no different, with many Mighty Green Sidmouth Running Club members doing exactly that and they have clocked up some good mileage. So I thought I should put together a collage of an alternative version of the Exe to Axe event. None of the participants knew they would be taking part in any form of competition and therefore the rules of the “Race” were retrospectively as follows. 
  Firstly. All Social Distancing rules were observed at all times.
  2nd. Well behaved dogs were welcome. 
  3rd. No headphones were used.
  4th. There was no minimum or maximum distance to cover.
  5th. Participants could take part at any point of the weekend. 
  6th. This comes under the currant daily exercise allowance.
   Christie and Greg Ward have been ticking over on 2 or 3 runs week, so come the weekend it was inevitable that they would take off for a jaunt. They got off to a very tough start though, by heading up Milltown Lane and Salcombe Hill with the aim of re-creating the Woodland Relay. That didn’t go to plan as they both managed to miss a turning. Something else they really missed, was the fabulous cakes at the end. Both ran at a steady pace covering around 4.5 miles whereas their Whippet who joined them, went like a rocket for the duration doing approximately 22.2 miles.
   While no one was watching Danny Painter did some Strava graffiti art with a tribute to the NHS on his daily run, he also worryingly clocked 6.66 miles, how Devilish! He had an average pace of 9:02 min/miles and climbed 709ft of elevation grain.
   My running buddy for the real Exe to Axe race was Adrian Horne. He took a little outing yesterday on his own, but was really missing the club runs with all the camaraderie that goes with it. His Exe to Axe was a circuit around the very picturesque Sid Valley Ring. 14miles in 2h48m. I took myself (Hamish Spence) and my Dog (The Spanner) to complete a job in a customers garden. After which we both ran circuits around the garden. I have no idea how many times we ran around that garden as dizziness had set in halfway around, but I clocked up 2.8 miles and The Spanner I’m guessing about 4.5 miles. There were no jelly babies, the route was not Marshalled and we didn’t see any fellow runners. However, it was such a beautiful afternoon with wall to wall sunshine. The birds were singing for Queen and Country, bumble bees and butterflies were out in force and there was some rather sweet smelling blossom.
   Jo Earlam, like many, many people right now, is finding it hard to keep motivated to run. Missing the company or the goal of an event to look forward to. She, like others is finding mental energy is at full stretch! However, she has decided in the meantime to start using her walking poles and stride it out. Doing an average of 15 min/miles even off road and uphill.
Also walking was a chilled Nick Jennings, except for one spurt of speed up Filcombe Hill where he achieved a personal best time. Out for 2h09m completing 4.6 miles with a very relaxed over-all pace of 28:06min/miles.
John Chesters made the most of the sunny day with a 7+ mile round trip from Ottery to Tipton via Knightstone and Lancercombe and back along the river. His only company a Kingfisher and some ducks. Time keeping was good with 1h36 on the clock. 

Terry Bewes chilling out at the Fire Beacon Trig point

Terry Bewes chose Sunday to participate. He opted for running up onto two of the Sidmouth trigs on his route, Buckton Trig and Fire Beacon Trig. He set off from Stowford Rise and along the main road to Sidford, passing the Blue Ball Inn where he turned into Harcombe Lane to Snodbrook Cross. Then followed the lane passing Boswell Farm up to Knowle House and on into Harcombe. From there he followed the path up the field into Buckton Wood and up to Buckton Trig Point. Carrying on across the top of the hill he then followed the East Devon Way down into Sidbury to make the steady climb up through fields and lanes to White Cross. He continued on the East Devon Way along the top and through the woods were possible onto the Fire Beacon Hill Trig Point. He then dropped down through Harpford Common and Woods to Stowford Cross. It was then back home. With an elevation gain of 1375 feet, he completed his 9 mile run in 2h02m. He said “I really enjoyed running on my own as I had no rush on me. I could take time out to not only enjoy the fantastic views but to sit, close my eyes and listen to what was going on around me, something you cannot do running in a group. It was a great experience and I would recommend it the next time you run on your own or with a likeminded friend”. Terry almost bumped into Ben Chesters at the bottom of Greenway lane on his way home after a 10km run up and over Mutters Moor out to the Coastal Path. Ben had a bit of a surprise while going slightly off-piste and following animal tracks. He passed a naturist taking full advantage of the sun.

Emma Grainger and Luna having a break at Escot before heading back home

Emma Grainger took her faithful hound Luna for a cannie-cross session from Ottery to Escot and back. Amazing how fast Emma runs when attached to her dog, who was training who? Derek Blackburn did his usual round trip route, but in reverse just to shake things up a bit. He made great time covering the 6.9 miles in 1h06m. Back from injury was Cathy Miller, who sprinted at an average pace of 9:08min/miles on a 3.5 mile route down the Byes, along the seafront, zig-zagging her way back home all in 31m38s. Sue Coleman started and finishing at the Ottery River bridge. She followed the River Otter down to Tipton and then headed back along the road passing Fluxton and Salston. She took 56m16s to run the 5.8 mile route.

   Well done to all who managed to take their daily dose of exercise, the results are as follows. In 1st place was The Ward Whippet for outstanding pace. 2nd was Danny Painter for his Strava art and joint 3rd, Ben Chesters and Terry Bewes for their quick thinking collision prevention skills. The Spanner and Luna share the wooden spoon. Luna for being patient and running while still attached to Emma and The Spanner for getting distracted when losing her ball. 

Beating the Covid Blues -2

Derek Blackburn taking a breather and enjoying the sunshine outside the Sidbury Church half way around on his once-a-day daily run.

Beating The Corvid Blues (part two).

   So, it’s been another week of keeping the Mighty Green fitness levels up, observing social distancing and keeping the Corvid Blues at bay writes Hamish Spence. 
   Before Corvid came along I had set myself a realistic target of running 1000 miles over the whole year and more if possible. I happened to mention this to fellow SRC member and Alphabet Parkrun addict David Skinner. Now he too is taking up this 1000+ mile challenge. David recently completed his 150th Parkrun and is now having Parkrun withdrawal syndrome! Parkrun is for obvious reasons canceled until further notice, but David is making use of his daily, one outside exercise period allowance, to run around the lanes of Newton Poppleford where he lives. Unlike myself he is using metric distances and so his target is actually 1609km over the year. Like me he started on January 1st and has so far have covered 397.7km. (He needs to average 31km a week). He admits to wanting to give it a miss on some days, however his wife sends him off out, reminding him that it is also good for his mental health and that he’d regret not keeping on schedule. David fully blames me for his decision to take on this challenge and I’m very chuffed to be blamed. Glad to be of service David. Are any other SRC members picking up this 1000+ mile gauntlet?
   The Baker household has set up their own fitness studio. Kyle Baker’s Photography Studio is now The Baker Keep-fit Space. Kyle has set up some weights and follows Joe Wicks on YouTube. The family all follow LC Fitness and JM Dance. Alexa does a bit of Zumba and Fitsteps. All are managing a daily run at some point during the day. 
   Karen Farnham took herself off for an early Sunday morning 9 mile run up Buckton Hill and along the East Devon Way. Then on through Sidbury to East Hill Strips and onto Fire Beacon. She made a quick visit to the trig point and admired the view, before descending back down into Sidmouth. She was accompanied by her running buddy. Having not seen her running buddy for quite sometime (about 6 months), it was good to have her Shadow back. Shadow runs at exactly the same pace and really doesn’t mind where Karen goes. Shadow doesn’t talk and never complains about the hills. However, Shadow does need to understand a bit more about the 2 meter social distancing rule! 
   Paul Mitchel tries hard to find reasons not to do too much DIY every day while we are on this lock-down and one of the best reasons was found online. A great workout via Face Book led by Honiton runner Paula Ferris. There is a link to her web page which has sample stretch exercises. It’s then off for a daily single run, rounded off with a session of hill reps…he has to do this really as he lives at the top of a hill.

The Beginners Are Progressing Quickly

The Beginners Are Progressing Quickly
   Having completed their three mile, non-stop run last Wednesday evening (9th January), Jane Stein, Nikki Gosney and Lee-Ann Thomas all received their 3 mile certificates from Head Coach Tim Mitchell. They had no idea of the events that would unfold in the evening that lay ahead writes Hamish Spence.
   The three ladies ran with the beginners group to give moral support to the five other group members that were taking on the non-stop 3 mile challenge.
As the group headed along Livonia Road, one of the ‘challengers’ became unwell. So, with some quick thinking and without anyone stopping, Nikki made the very helpful call to lead the others in the group on around the route. This enabled another five more members of the Beginners Group to complete the non-stop three mile course, while Jane, Lee-Ann and Terry looked after the casualty.
Happily, it all turned out well and Terry said a sincere thanks to our three new members who absolutely embody our ethos at SRC. Without their quick thinking, the evenings attempt would have been thwarted.

Blackdown Beast 2016

Saturday morning saw 9 Sidmouth Running Club members attending the pre-run briefing at the Highfield Club, Dunkeswell ready for the start of this very popular run. I say run as it is not a race. Falling between the pre and post-Christmas races this is a 17 mile self-navigation social run over the beautiful Blackdown Hills. We were promised plenty of mud, bog and hills and there were plenty of each.

The run is split into 4 legs, the first about 7 miles takes you through fields, lanes, woods, farm yards and a proper bog to Smeatharpe Village Hall where the W.I. ladies had hot pasties and mulled cider waiting. The next leg of about 3 miles and the easiest takes you to the Sidmouth Arms at Upottery where more liquid refreshment is available. You have the opportunity of finishing here and taking a bus back to the start but for the hardened Sidmouth runners that was never an option.

Leg 3 is only about 3.5miles but very tough. After a road run to Rawridge you then plough your way across two very boggy fields before starting a mile plus climb up to and through the Buddhist Monastery woodland which now has a lake, to the top of the ridge where you are rewarded with a fantastic 180 degree panoramic view before dropping down into Luppit. Arriving at the unique Luppit Inn which is one of the smallest Inns in the country you are greeted by Gladys the Landlady who will tell you “I am 93 you know”, but I am sure she was 93 last year as well, a great character.

The final leg takes you through a series of boggy fields and a few more hills to finish you off. Arriving back at the Club, tired, muddy and wet we all agreed to return next year.

As I said at the start this is a social run but of course there is always the competitive runner amongst us. Normally this would be George but this year it was Jessica Raynor who finished 4th out of the 180 runners in under 3 hours and was the first lady home. She was back home in Sidmouth and had a bath by the time the true social runners finished some 2 hours later.

A superbly organised event by Honiton Running Club and over a £1,000 raised for charity.

Fulfords 5 2016

On Sunday, 6 Sidmouth runners who weren’t quite as mad as those doing the four trigs braved the elements to get to the Fulfords Five in Exmouth. Luckily, there was a break in the weather and the two-lap course allowed runners to experience beautiful sea views and a dry but sandy course. Rob Edwards was the first man home for Sidmouth in an impressive time of 38:36, followed closely by Brendan Shepherd.

There was then a bit of a wait before Colin Flood and Sarah Brown crossed the line within 10 seconds of each other, just after 44 minutes. John Doherty had a good run to finish in around 45 minutes, and on her club debut, Suzi Rockey broke her own personal target of 50 minutes by a considerable amount! Mick Allen wasn’t far behind, and Bill Valentine was the last of the Sidmouth runners home, also beating his own target by 6 minutes. The race was held at the perfect time to avoid the rain, but all runners now have a beanie hat as a momento for the rest of the bad weather.

Boxing Day run 2015

Putting a day of excess behind them or in some cases in front of them, 22 members of Sidmouth Running Club turned out for the traditional Boxing Day run. It was good to catch up with some members who were home from University and Andy Shearer who had left the sun and dust of rural Spain for the rain and mud of our beloved valley. The course was not too demanding, taking in the Byes to Fortescue, up Griggs Lane and Soldier’s Hill across the top of Salcombe Hill to the Frog Stone and back down to the esplanade in time for the swim.

Most runners managed to stay upright in the slippery sections with the exception of Gail Goldsmith who seemed to spend most of the time on her bottom; she was last seen heading to the sales for a pair of off road shoes.

Don’t forget the Beginners Course starts on 6th January at 7pm from the Sailing Club and anyone who enjoys running is welcome at our friendly Club. Inquiries to Colin on 01395 578436.

Missing from the photo is our leader Helen Palmer

Blustery Bicton Blister 2015

27 Sidmouth running Club members competed in the Blustery Bicton Blister. The Bicton Blister is a 10 mile multi-terrain race on Woodbury Common in East Devon, starting and finishing at Bicton College East Budleigh , the start and finish are short road sections, with the remainder of the race being on sandy, stony and muddy paths across the Commons of East Devon Over runners took part in the Bicton Blister and Bicton Lite races which were multi-terrain events over and around Woodbury Common.

 The Bicton Lite is the Bicton Blister’s little Brother, 4.5 miles same start and finish, just less distance on the Commons.but never less still challenging

click here for race results