Grizzly 2014 survived and even enjoyed…
We finished the bugger! We even did much better than we thought, pulling off 60th from 1550 finishers and actually enjoying every last bit of it. So far we’ve raised over £1300 for Osteoporosis research too (visit our Justgiving page if you’d like to).
It could have gone so badly. 32ish km of running along shale beaches, up cliff paths and through waste deep bogs along with 1550 other fools in an event called the Grizzly. That’s how Ben Chesters (Busty’s big brother) and I chose to spend last Sunday. The idea was to do something to remember Bust, Chris and Rachel by, raise a spot of money for charity and, if possible, have fun.
Armed only with porno shorts and some pretty snazzy ‘Team Osteoporosis’ running vests, we set off from Seaton heading west along the Jurassic coast. And with the sun shining out from an endless blue sky over the humpback sandstone cliffs, there couldn’t have been a more inspiring setting for 2 hours and 54 minutes of beasting.
I couldn’t have had a better running partner either. An awesome runner and orienteer since he was a kid and 9 time veteran of the Grizzly, Ben’s pacing was so spot on that in the end we finished with a sprint just because we could.
And what an event. After 20 years of biking races of all sorts, the Grizzly had the friendliest atmosphere I’ve ever known. Thousands of people all together to have fun in a very muddy way. Lone pipers, steel bands, kids handing out jelly babies every few hundred metres and even Nepali spiritualists burning incense for our benefit just after a stinking bog crossing. Genuine camaraderie that exceeds anything the biking world has ever shown me. Maybe it’s the lack of techy kit, I’m really not sure. what it creates is a lovely sensation of having shared a collective experience. In short shorts.
An integral part of the Grizzly is the memorial to absent friends. This was really why we had come. The organisers had built a great driftwood framework, like a teepee, on the beach near Branscombe. All racers are welcome to tie ribbons to the memorial in memory of loved ones. The bleached driftwood was silhouetted against either the blue spring sky or the rust red cliffs. The ribbons seemed to try to struggle free on the breeze but they held fast and made a beautiful sight. Like a huge wooden kite wrapped up in its own multi coloured tail, anchored as much to the sandstone and sky above as it was to the time worn shingle beneath it.
Cliffs and sky were all the racers saw for the next wee while too as the steepest climb of the whole race traced its vertiginous way up the slope. When the race marshalls wear harnesses you know to watch your footing! but the summit showed us a view of Seaton and the finish, lined with thousands of cheering spectators. The last few miles sped by and, with a quick pause to give Busty’s Mum Ruth a kiss and a hug, we crossed the line having shared a great adventure with people we love.
Just how they always liked it.
Fast and Light guys, fast and light.