Grizzly 2014 – Withering Heights (featuring Heath and Cliff) – the report

Cornwall may well be the centre of the world and the best place to live anywhere but there are places outside of Cornwall that are worth visiting – if only for the day. One of these is Seaton, Devon.Not the most obvious of spots for a running race considering the average age of the locals is 100+ and the most trouble the police have to deal with is the odd zimmer frame fight.


A fine day for a Grizzly race

However, every year roughly 2000 people turn up to run the Cub (9 miles) and the Grizzly (20 miles). The route each year is different but it always involves hills, a mile or two on shingle beaches, water splashes, mud, deeper mud and hills – did I mention the hills? My running app claimed that this years route had 7533 ft of assent. I think it lies with 3500 ft being the official amount, which is still the height of Snowdon.

This year I managed to get 20 people from Truro signed up for the Grizzly which was a considerable increase on last year. Many were Grizzly first timers and were just a little bit apprehensive as to what they had let themselves into.


The Grizzly, 2014
All smiles

So Sunday arrived and we all managed to get ourselves to Seaton. Special mention to Richard Wilson for driving a mini van up from Truro. The weather last year was awful with temperatures just above freezing combined with rain and snow on occasion. This year it couldn’t have been better. Blue sky all day and temperatures just into double figures.

Before the start, the Seaton Town Crier made his voice heard and gave us an inverse pep talk by telling us of all the horrors that laid before us. Fortunately, he kept his missive short, he rang his bell and we were all off.

The Grizzly 2014
And they’re off!

The first half mile is along the shingle at Seaton where parts this year had sand which made running ever so slightly easier but it was still hard work. Probably not the best way to warm up at the start of a 20 mile race but that is part of the fun of the Grizzly.

The Grizzly 2014
Seaton beach

The next few miles took us up an over the hill into Beer where there was a good crowd of people cheering us on. It was then up and over to Branscombe for the next Grizzly tradition of a water splash through the stream. Unfortunately I managed to pick up a stone and it worked its way to the front of my shoe – I didn’t want to stop but was basically forced to so as to get it out. Unfortunate but it at least gave me a breather.

Inland next, up hill of course. At the top of the hill was of course a bog. Paul was asking afterwards how this was possible being that it was right on the top of the hill. I think the answer involves having lots of cows doing what cows do shortly before the race. It wasn’t very deep but was certainly rather slippery and very smelly.

I reached the 10 mile half way mark in around 1hr 34mins which is a good pace for me. The route at this stage was along a muddy path through woodland. The mud wasn’t too bad so I was keeping my pace up but failed to see whatever it was that tripped me up. The guy behind me thought my fall was rather spectacular but I landed and rolled in the mud so was fortunately uninjured. I did manage to get completely caked though which is a must for the full Grizzly experience.

Miles 12 and 13 brought the proper Grizzly mud. Again maybe a little easier this year due to the fine weather over the last few days but still deep enough to slow your pace to a crawl and to cause problems pulling your shoes out on each step. A good way to reduce your depleted reserves of strength even further.

Next up was the Fountain Head Inn which seemed to have a rather large contingent of enthusiastic people this year. The support certainly was excellent though it could have just been the effects of the beer being drunk.

Back to Branscombe beach along the coast path for a couple of miles whilst trying to not think about the section coming up. Unfortunately, whilst not thinking about the shingle, I forgot to look where I was going and a twig from a passing branch spun my glasses off my face into the brambles by the side of the path. This was a little bit of a problem as without my glasses, I didn’t have a hope of finding them myself. I gave up quickly and roped in the next couple of runners coming past to help me search. I was most grateful to them for being willing to stop and especially to the woman who spotted them. Oh well, glasses back on and down to Branscombe beach.

First is a very tough mile along the shingle – run walk for me, and then the Stairway to Heaven. This is a footpath which goes from sea level to the top of the cliff by what is a rather steep path. As in previous years, I could pretend I walked this bit because it was narrow and the people in front of me were walking. In practise, I couldn’t have moved faster than walking pace anyway.

Back to Beer next via the coast path. As I came down into Beer, one of the marshals gave encouragement with the words “Keep going, you are looking good” but then spoilt it a bit by saying “well fairly good”. Made me smile anyway and I couldn’t fault her logic as I was knackered at this stage and covered in mud.

The final run to Seaton and the finishing line involved a couple of hills of course and there were some protests from some tired legs but I made it to the end.

The Grizzly 2014
Greg doesn’t disappoint with his famous sprint home!

This year’s Grizzly was organised by a new race director but it all seemed to go off well so a big thanks to him and the rest of the Grizzly crew. In particular, a mention must be made to the 200 marshals that gave encouragement all around the course. Another great run and an experience not to be missed. If you haven’t done the Grizzly yet, it comes highly recommended, put it into your plans for next year!


The Grizzly 2014
The Grizzly 2014
All done (in!)

TRC Results:

The Grizzly

156 03:10:10 Dave Cudby
175 03:12:49 Stuart Musson
277 03:24:38 Colin Bathe
312 03:27:48 Wendy Chapman
419 03:37:35 Andrew Shefford
592 03:49:18 Adrian Tyas
644 03:52:43 Tabitha Allen
686 03:55:43 Robert Pope
815 04:05:39 Paul Middleton
831 04:06:26 David McGuire
950 04:16:39 Richard Willson
974 04:17:58 Beth Key
1030 04:22:29 Corinna Stephens
1053 04:24:14 Nathan Headland
1088 04:25:44 Steven Michell
1089 04:25:47 Mark Thomas
1344 04:54:45 Gregory Hunt

The Cub

30 01:25:29 Gary Collins
117 01:43:32 Elizabeth Cannon
194 01:52:37 Nikki Collins

Full Results

Available to view here on the Axe Valley Runners website

Overall Winners

First male was Ceri Rees in 2:20:13
First female was Lucy MacAlister in 2:30:17

1541 finishers on the Grizzly, 415 in the Cub