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Laterlife’s Dave Sinclair proves seniors can do the Grizzly!


Axe Valley Runners, based in east Devon, used to be a little running club "with big feet". Well those feet have certainly grown because now the club is nationally famous for organising the Grizzly, one of the toughest and most interesting running races in the annual calendar.

This year the race was held in early March, covering 20 odd miles of muddy, hilly, boggy multi terrain ground on the edge of Dartmoor and the coast…definitely a pretty tough endurance race. Despite the challenge, it attracted around 1400 keen and energetic runners from around Britain…including one keen and energetic runner from Laterlife!

Dave Sinclair has been a major partner in Laterlife for over 10 years and is now responsible for the training programme at the many Laterlife workshops that are held across the country.

At 69, Dave certainly was not the youngest in the race (many of the winners were top runners in their 20s) but he completed this in an excellent time of a little over 4 hours (4.03.45) coming in at a very credible 794 position, just about in the top half.

We think that is a terrific achievement, so very well done Dave…and here is his story…

It’s Grizzly day again. The grizzly is an annual race that starts at Seaton, south Devon, and 20 miles later finishes in the same place. Meanwhile, the runners will have completed nearly 800 metres of climbing, run for about a mile along the pebble beach and gone through a knee-deep bog. It’s tempting to add, ‘and they’re just the easy bits!’ However, that wouldn’t be strictly true, although the rest of the race isn’t exactly a doddle.

This year, and this is the 13th year that your correspondent has run it, the day dawned fine. There was a chilly wind blowing from the sea across the Promenade, where we all gathered for the start, but the sun shone and it was very pleasant. There are about 2000 people enter every year, so it’s big event and worthy of the Town Crier starting it with a few rousing words and then ringing his bell. We leap into action at the sound of the bell and immediately turn onto the beach to run for about half a mile through the pebbles in the opposite direction to where the rest of the race is run. That means that we turn off the beach and run back along the Promenade. The 1 mile marker is almost exactly back where we started!

We then run up and down the cliffs into Beer and then up and down again along to Branscombe, where we run along the beach again and then almost knee deep along the stream that crosses the beach. From there the route turns inland and goes up hill and down dale and through the bog until we eventually arrive back at Branscombe where we run along the beach for another half a mile and then up the steep cliffs, up a path called ‘The Stairway to Heaven’ until we finally arrive at the top. From there, it’s down into Beer, up out of Beer and back to Seaton.

By this time the legs are screaming for mercy and every step is painful. However, the lure of the Finish line and the thought of a cold beer spur me on. I achieve the first, get a hose down from the Fire brigade, then achieve the second, so I’m happy. I was also satisfied because I felt I had a good run but also a bit disappointed because I was two minutes outside finishing in less than 4 hours. But there’s always next year!

I will do it next year because I will be 70 and I want to say I’ve done it in my 8th decade. Whether the next is my last, we’ll have to wait and see.

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