Runners set to take on Grizzly challenge in Seaton

PUBLISHED: 17:00 13 March 2018 | UPDATED: 09:05 16 March 2018

Grizzly run 2017. Ref mhsp 11-17TI 8707. Picture: Terry Ife

Grizzly run 2017. Ref mhsp 11-17TI 8707. Picture: Terry Ife

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Runners from across the UK and Europe will converge on Seaton this weekend for the 31st running of The Grizzly.

Grizzly run 2017. Ref mhsp 11-17TI 8722. Picture: Terry IfeGrizzly run 2017. Ref mhsp 11-17TI 8722. Picture: Terry Ife

Demand for the 2,500 places has never been higher and competitors from Austria, France, Germany, Spain and Switzerland, as well as from all parts of Britain, will tackle the multi-terrain run on Sunday, March 18.

This year’s Grizzly – dubbed ‘May the course be with you!’ promises to be one of the most challenging after the Beast from the East left its mark on the already challenging coastal course earlier this month.

Runners aged from 17 to 75 will gather on The Esplanade for the 10.30am start.

The event, organised by Axe Valley Runners, gives participants the choice of the full 20-mile challenge with a shorter Cub route of about nine miles also available.

Grizzly run 2017. Ref mhsp 11-17TI 8724. Picture: Terry IfeGrizzly run 2017. Ref mhsp 11-17TI 8724. Picture: Terry Ife

It covers some of the most scenic but testing parts of East Devon as the runners tackle steep hills, rocky cliffs, pebble beaches, a river or two and at least two bogs.

This year will see a few changes to previous routes but is sure to be as spectacular and as exciting as the previous 30 episodes.

After the Town Crier gives his jolly welcome, the runners head immediately through the “Waves” at Fisherman’s Gap on to the beach and towards Haven Cliff. The infamous and very tough pebble beach start is certainly the sign of things to come!

After passing through Axe Yacht Club, they return along The Esplanade and out on Beer Road to Seaton Hole before facing the first of many steep hills as they run into Beer.

Grizzly run 2017. Ref mhsp 11-17TI 8659. Picture: Terry IfeGrizzly run 2017. Ref mhsp 11-17TI 8659. Picture: Terry Ife

From there the route becomes largely off-road as it meanders through Beer Head Caravan Park and on to Branscombe.

The route then splits with all the runners feeling the cold waters of Branscombe Mouth with the Cub runners then starting their return via the beach, followed by the very steep ‘Stairway to Heaven’ ascent back up to Under Hooken.

Meanwhile, the Grizzly runners continue along the river into the village and up into the hills and woodland beyond.

Extra care is needed at Hole House, where runners will pass each other, before heading into the Branscombe countryside and on towards the Fountain Head and back across to Branscombe Mouth before returning to Seaton following the same route as the Cub runners.

Throughout the route, some 250 marshals guide the runners and provide much-needed water and snacks.

Local musicians entertain the runners at various points on the course.

A Grizzly memorial will be constructed on Branscombe beach, providing an opportunity for runners to tie a ribbon, 
leave a memory or just share a moment of reflection as they pass.

Run Director Tony Smith said: “The Grizzly will once again bring thousands to Seaton and the surrounding towns and villages. It would not be possible without the incredible support from the many local community groups, the council, local businesses and individuals who help on the day and in the weeks leading up to the event.

“A special thank you to the landowners who kindly allow the race to go across their land and make it even more special for the runners. Thank you to our race sponsors, East Devon Sports Therapy Centre and Lyme Bay Winery. Best of luck to all the runners.”

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● All runners who complete the course receive a ‘Grizzly Survivor’ T-shirt and a miniature wine donated by Lyme Bay Winery.

The first three men and three women finishers of the Grizzly and first male and first female of the Cub receive a souvenir prize as well as some more wine from Lyme Bay and coffee donated by The Coffee Factory, located at Seaton Junction.

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● Seaton will put on its usual friendly welcome for the runners and their friends and families with the Artisan Market, Grizfest children’s races, a Griz quiz and a range of special Grizzly related offers at Seaton Jurassic, Seaton Tramway and Cycle Life East Devon. Local restaurants, bars and cafés will offer Grizzly related meals.

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● On Saturday (March 17) there is an opportunity for junior runners to tackle shorter runs with the Junior Grizzly (4km), Junior Cub (2km) and a 2km fun-run (for under eights) available along the seafront.

Registration takes place in the morning at the Hook and Parrot, near the start.

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● The Gateway Seaton will be the headquarters for the Grizzly with a sport shop stocking running shoes, clothing and accessories, Grizzly merchandise on sale, refreshments and a baggage store for runners on the Sunday.

On Saturday there will be two talks about ‘Barefoot running’. A local craft beer has been especially made by Darkplace Brewery, Colyton, for the weekend. ‘Grizzly: Post-Run Pale Ale’ will be available from the Artisan market on Saturday and the Race HQ on Sunday.

The Grizzly weekend continues to be a very special community event for the town with opportunities for everyone to get involved either by running, helping or cheering on the runners. It is also a terrific fundraiser for local charities with more than £350,000 of race proceeds having been donated during the past 30 years.


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