The Grizzly is probably the most popular trail race in the UK. The combined entry for The Grizzly and its little brother, The Cub is around 2000, and when entries opened last September, it filled in a day! It always used to take about a week to fill, but this year was its 25th anniversary, which may account for the super fast sell-out.
It is approximately 20 miles, but is unusual because the course is never the same year 0n year, although many features crop up again and again. Its main ‘selling points’ are steep climbs, bogs, streams and shingle beaches to run up, through and over. However, these factors by themselves do not fully account for its popularity; the big plus point that brings people back is that the whole of Seaton gets behind the race. There are various Grizfest events going on over the race weekend, parking charges are suspended for the day and the whole town buzzes with excitement when The grizzly is under way.
I travelled down early this morning with 2 friends, Kevin and Ian (a regular running partner-in-crime). It really was a lovely morning to be doing such an arduous, pointless thing.
Once the town crier had done his stuff, way were off through the streets, a boatyard, and onto our first section of shingle beach, right along Seaton’s sea-front. Stiff climbs, beautiful cliff tops, mostly on very good going, one cold, fairly deep stream crossing and sections of minor roads made for a fast first half. I assumed that the second half would be tougher, and I was right!
The first (and biggest) bog came fairly late by the standards of my previous Grizzlies, early into the second half, but it was a doozy. We were funnelled through the worst bit at the start of it so the race photographer could get entertaining pictures of us struggling. It was perfectly possible to get stuck, and one person near me had to be pulled out by marshals. The organisers were very kind however: this year, the next section of stream came just after the bog, not before as it had in previous years, so at least you could wash your shoes off.
Much of the part of the race is a blur in my memory of arduous climbs, hammering descents and a few level sections, all in the company of some excellent fellow runners, who were always good for a chat and a laugh. I was pleased that I didn’t have to walk any of the climbs until after the second, relatively modest bog. As well as this bog, many of the familiar Grizzly features were covered in reverse this year
The last monster climb was over Beer Head. I ran the lower section, walked the steeper grass above that, then pretty much staggered up the steps where it joined the infamous Stairway to Heaven near the top. Then it was ‘just’ a case of keeping some sort of pace through to the end (I was flagging by then). I passed the 20 mile marker a few seconds after my watch said I’m been going for 3 hours, which is the approximate pace I’d been hoping for. The finish was another few hundred meters beyond and I completed the race in about 3:03. 3 hours all in would have been nice, but hey, who’s complaining.
I noticed after the race that I got my first sunburn of the year too!
The training is paying off, and The Grizzly was a good test of this. Another indication is that I didn’t hurt as much have done in previous years.
Oh yay, oh yay, what a day!