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ESAT DEVON: Crowds flock to the sunshine Grizzly

Thursday, 13 March 2014

TWO thousand runners from all over the country, and many parts of the world, converged on Seaton over the weekend for the 27th annual Grizzly.
The near-20 mile multi terrain race, considered to be the most difficult in Europe, attracted thousands to the Seaton with a GrizFest being held in the town centre giving local traders an early Spring boost.
Since 1997 the Grizzly, which now has cult status in the athletics calendar, has raised an incredible £273,000 for good causes. With such a large entry and generous sponsorship from Scimitar, East Devon Sports Therapy and Injury Clinic and Every’s Solicitors, another significant profit is expected from Sunday’s race.
The 2014 event, given the name “Withering Heights”, attracted runners from many of the major running clubs in this country and competitors from the USA, Germany, Netherlands, France, Austria, Wales and Ireland.
One of the biggest contingents came from Benfleet in Essex which had 53 runners and the organisers, Axe Valley Runners, were well represented as always.
By the time the 10.30 am start on The Esplanade came, the town was teeming with athletes and their families and local shops and cafes, especially those near the seafront, were doing a roaring trade.
In contrast to last year when the race was run in freezing conditions, it was a glorious sunny morning with temperatures around 15c.
The race was started by Seaton’s town crier, David Craner, who made a special cry before ringing his bell to get the runners underway. After a strength-sapping trek along the shingle beach, the competitors in both the ten mile Cub race and the Grizzly then had to leave the town and negotiate a 3,500’ climb to Beer and beyond.
First local
No wonder the call it one of the toughest races on the athletics’ calendar.
Nearly 500 competed in the Cub with first home, Aarron Tocknell, from Torbay AAC, completing the course in 1.01.28. The first local runner to cross the line was Andrew Watson, of Axe Valley Runners, who recorded a time of 1.12.16 to claim ninth position overall.
The next Axe Valley runner home was Carol Austin (1.04.02) in 20th place.
Unfortunately, the overall winner of the Grizzly, Ceri Reece, of Wild Running, came in with all the Cub finishers and was not recognised by the comentator so did not receive the accolade normally accorded on the final stretch. He completed the course in 2.15.01, followed home by Rick Weston (Serpentine RC) in 2.23.39 and then two Axe Valley runners - Tim Lenton (2.23.57) and Liam Roberts (2.30.09).
All runners were greeted at the finishing line by members of Seaton Majorettes who handed out a bottler of water and a banana provided by Fyffes.
The winners received their trophies from AVR President, Councillor Jim Knight,
As well as the main sponsors, generous support was given by Seaton Town Council, Tesco Seaton, Quicks Engineering, Seaton’s Fish Bar, SAK Logistics and Harris Lets.
GrizFest activities over the weekend included the Artisan Market, Library Activity Hall, Grizzly Art Project, Town Square Activity Club, the Great Grizzy Bake Off in the United Reformed Church Hall, children’s races on The Esplanade and a Grizzly Quiz.


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