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Sarah Alexander shares her journey from Cub to Grizzly

So after completing the Cub 2 years ago and enjoying the experience, I had decided that the Cub was enough for me.  Anyone who knows me well,  knows that I am not a fan of getting dirty, so the thought of wading through mud, knee high bogs and freezing water has never appealed!

However, when anyone talked about the grizzly they were always so enthusiastic about it and saying what a great race it was, most of all, my husband Paul who says it is the best event of the year.  Whenever I was asked if I was doing it, I would always have an excuse and then one Monday night club run, Patrick kindly offered me a space in his car to drive me there and back on the day, how could I refuse!  So when Nikki Stanley’s place came up I decided it was time to find out for myself why everyone loved it so much……….

Patrick arrived just before 7am on Sunday morning and we travelled down to Seaton with Tim and Christine Rivers, all seasoned Grizzly runners.  The nerves set in and both Christine and I were feeling sick but this soon passed as we arrived and I met up with Paul and the other SJ’s.

Paul & Sarah 2

We all gathered for a photo and then made our way to the start, it was packed.  The race began with the Town Cryer announcing the race and firing us up ready to go and then we were off.  It started with a short run on the promenade followed by a hard stretch on the pebbly beach, this was quite tough and a very noisy start.  It was lovely to get off the beach and onto a bit of tarmac!  We then ran through the crowds to Beer.  I could see Paul and the gang further ahead, so made an effort to try and catch them up, I finally caught them on the first major hill.  I stayed with them for a while for a few photo opportunities and then we came to the caravan park and shortly after I pushed on.  There were many ups and downs, lots of slipping and sliding in the mud but before I knew it I had reached the point at which the Cub and Grizzly run split.

Directly after the split you are welcomed by a section of water on the beach. The water was freezing but actually quite refreshing and nice to have clean trainers for a short while albeit wet!  I continued on with cheers and great encouragement from the marshals.  They were absolutely fantastic all the way round but those hills just kept on coming and more mud than I have ever seen!

Just before the boggy section, Wayne Boardman had caught up with me and we managed to stay together for the next few miles.  I have to say that the boggy and muddy bits were by far the best part and it was great to share this experience with a fellow SJ.  We laughed so much and I’m not really sure how I managed to stay upright but thankful that I did!

Muddy puddle

There was a fab food station at mile 13 enough to give you a little boost, however miles 13-15,  I found the toughest!  The legs were starting to hurt and it seemed like every corner you turned you were faced with another hill!  Luckily the last 4 miles did pass quite quickly, there was a lovely reception when running through the beer garden at The Fountain Head Pub in Branscombe which helped.

Just after the last hill, Ian Watson came flying passed me and although I couldn’t keep up, he spurred me on to up the pace and I soon found myself running down the hill towards the finish.  It didn’t take long to hear the welcome sounds of the fabulous SJ crew cheering me on, which was amazing.  I then had a support crew of Joshua, Oliver, Jacob and Zachery running me into the finish, it was such a relief to cross the line but also a fantastic feeling!

Sarah after finish 2

It was a run of mixed emotion, one minute feeling amazing and the next wondering what the hell I was doing but I did it, the toughest run I have ever done and yes I would recommend it!

Sarah after finish

A day on and although the legs are feeling it, I will be back next year!!

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