||The annual trip to the seaside for the less than sane, and possibly more unstable, members of the running community to attend The Grizzly â€“ the annual multi-terrain event over the beaches, headlands and coastal paths of South Devon organised by the nutters from the Axe Valley Runners â€“ the self-styled "Axe Valley Asylum of Running".
For those lovers of multi-terrain races, The Grizzly, now in its 22nd year, has a legendary status and has been voted as one of the top multi-terrain races by Runners' World Readers for many years.
Described as "Twentyish muddy, hilly, boggy, beachy miles of the multiest-terrain running experience you will find this side of the end of time", the 2009 edition of this ever-popular race certainly lived up to its billing.
The course of this race is not fixed and varies each year depending upon such factors as the tides, farmers, flooding, general ground conditions and the condition of the bogs as well as the whim of the course-setter, Dave Kelf (or The Dung Beatle as he is better known).
This year the start and finish were on the beachfront esplanade (as opposed to the beach itself) and then the course headed out onto the energy-sapping shingle beach for, this year, a much-extended initial section. Also this year, the start of The Grizzly and the shorter Cub run took place together making for a good, bustling and excited atmosphere among the two thousand runners. This took place in sunshine and under a clear blue sky, although the keen winds suggested that the forecast adverse weather conditions might soon arrive - and so they didâ€¦after 45 minutes heavy rain and strong winds descended upon the course making the steeper grass surfaces very slippery. The strong winds up on the headlands also added an additional challenge.
The much-renowned bogs were awesome this year â€“ the boggiest and longest for many a year. In places, waist deep thick brown gloop made well-attached shoes essential. Splendid!
As usual, excellent local support was present in Seaton, Bere and Branscombe to watch this annual spring invasion by the loons. The local support also included the post-race high-pressure hose-down by the Seaton Fire Service. Additionally, a large solar-heated saline pool with inbuilt wave-machine was thoughtfully provided next to the finish for a post-race wash-down.
A top event - highly recommended. Book early for next yearâ€™s race - No doubt the 2000 places will, again, be fully subscribed within days.