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A tale of two Grizzlies – Sacha and Max Woods report from the Seaton classic

This is the first of our reports from the legendary off-road 20 miler; The Grizzly. They started together on the esplanade in Seaton with the other 2,066 runners but had a very different day out on the Axe Valley trails, bogs, beaches and clifftops….

What an epic weekend. Started off with a really hard pool session on friday night. Apparently technique, not brawn is required. Needless to say I possess little of either, and judging by the number of people throwing life belts at me there is work to do!
Saturday morning was supposed to be a gentle 5km tickover Parkrun in preparation for Sundays main event, but I DNF’ed after 2.5k in spectacular fashion. Yes, that is correct I did not finish a parkrun! Legs were like lead from the word go, and I felt exhausted. The icing on the cake was when I was passed by a pensioner walking a 3 legged dog, at which point my inner Miffy surfaced and I decided to call it a day.

Max on Seaton beach

Sunday saw Sacha and I at the (in)famous ‘Grizzly’, a 20 mile coastal run on the East Devon coast from Seaton. This was a first for me, as I had previously thought it was all a bit tame for me. Oh my, was I wrong! It is a brutal, rough mind and body sapping ordeal that leaves everything quivering like jelly. The whole vibe is absolutely electric though and this should be on any serious trail runners’ calendar.

Grizzly - Max at finish

Despite my previous days’ disaster, a good nights’ sleep seemed to do me the power of good and I beat my target of 3 hours and 20 minutes, to finish in 3 hours and 14 minutes. I had what I can only describe as an epic scrap with fellow Sandhurst Jogger Helen Antram, who has been on fire recently in preparation for the London Marathon I believe. She ripped passed me at the 14 mile point whilst I was having a bity of a grizzle, and for a while I did not have the will power or the strength to catch her. Eventually I managed to get firing on all cylinders and hauled up on her a mile later. Thereafter I ran in mortal fear of Helen catching me. She got to within a few feet of me on several occasions, but I valliantly managed to squeak over the finish line just ahead – all is fair in love and war! (althought she has probably beaten me on chip timing, as I had the audacity to push towards the front for the start).

Grizzly - Sacha at finish

Sacha was having a good race until she tripped at mile ten and after a downhill tumble, managed to arrest her descent with her head. She gamely picked herself up and battled through the last 10 miles with blood streaming down her temple and a huge black eye. Once the adrenaline ceased flowing the poor lamb started feeling a bit rough and it was rather an anxious drive home, and for once I was very happy to listen to 2 hours of ‘girl witterings’. Fortunately after 90 mins in A & E, all is well that ends well, although she will be sore for a day or two.

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