The Grizzly 2014 – “Withering Heights – where Heath meets Cliff”
I entered the Grizzly Cub several months ago with colleagues Chris and Tim. The cub is the younger brother of the notorious 20 mile Grizzly, organised by fellow blogger Mrs Bee’s running club the Axe Valley Runners.
There were around 3000 runners so the start in Seaton, East Devon, was pretty crowded, and arriving at the start quite late meant I was close to the front! We started off with the best part of the first km along the shingle beach before heading through town and off over the hill to the next village of Beer. Having started near the front meant that this time, unlike other runs, I was the one being overtaken by just about everyone for the first few kms. From Beer it was uphill again and then the flattest part of the course, along the Jurassic coast path before descending to a favourite place of mine, the village of Branscombe (which is, I believe the “longest” village in England).
Branscombe was the parting of the ways. Us (sensible?) cub runners headed back along another shingle beach, whilst the Grizzly boys (and girls) headed up the next steep incline and off towards the infamous Grizzly bog (which “comes up to your waist”). The beach was really tough, and from there we headed up the undercliff path towards the part of the course known (affectionately) as the “Stairway To Heaven”. And finally after ascending the stairway we arrived at the top of the cliff with glorious views over Beer and to the finish back in Seaton.
The coast path between Beer and Seaton has been seriously eroded and the route taken was unfamiliar. By this time I had sort of teamed up with a chap from Newton Abbot. I kept overtaking him on the uphills and he would come back past me on the downhills. But soon we headed through a small park and had a very welcome view downhill and then straight along the esplanade to the finish. I’m told in previous years runners have been routed back along the beach at this point but this year they took pity on us and the finishing straight, with so many people cheering, was truly a joy (and a great relief).
And then a lovely moment as I was greeted by Mrs Bee at the finish. Michelle is very much a kindred spirit, like me training for her first marathon in London and having also dealt successfully with the added pressure that fund-raising at the same time brings, and we look forward to meeting again in Greenwich Park (and hopefully also in the Mall), April 13th.
A tough but really enjoyable day, marred only slightly by Charlton Athletic’s (apparently meek) capitulation to Sheffield United in the F.A. Cup quarter final. A semi final at Wembley, April 12th really would have been dreamland. But after 67 years, the wait continues. And for next year the big question – “full Grizzly or not full Grizzly”.