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What a fabulous turnout to celebrate our first year. A lovely sunny evening at a great venue saw 143 of you turn up to tackle a varied course of twists in the woods and views across the gently rolling countryside.

We set off the first runner at about 5.30pm and the last at 7.50pm, so it was quite nicely spread out.

Two runners admitted to cutting the course short and we know from others that quite a few others were not on the course, but we are happy that our two winners completed the actual route.

Allen Smalls returned to win the Gallop for the second time in a very close battle with Antony Goodall who had beaten him on Sunday at Stansted Mountfitchet. Nichola Norman claimed her third victory at our events.

It was great to see runners from Billericay, South Woodham and Castle Point as well as our usual crowd from north of the county. More pleasing though was the 24 unaffiliated runners who gave it a go. 

The trails are now coming thick and fast (see our local events calendar). Next up is Noah’s Challenge at Brantham on Saturday, organised by Clare and John of Mid Essex Casuals, followed by our next event at Chignal Fete on June 1st. See you soon.


The Castle Trail brought an end to our first year as Essex Trail Events with a beautiful day at a great new venue.

The sun gods again rewarded us. We have been so lucky with the weather at our events. The last 12 months have generally been dry, but Dave Game has had his share of bad weather including last week at Bocking. Grange Farm also held their Runway Trail on the only wet day of last summer. 

88 was a good turnout in new territory with quite a lot of other events going on locally. Plenty of familiar faces and quite a few new ones mainly from the local area, but also from further afield seemed to enjoy the varied terrain.

We were a bit worried about one landowner, but Howard obviously put him straight. Howard can be very forceful with or without a power tool in his hand. We might try to run from here a bit earlier next year to make a feature of the bluebells which were past their best.

Antony Goodall continues to fly around our courses however twisty we make them and won from trail running experts Allen Smalls and Sean Ketteridge. Lyn Higgs and Melissa Dowell will have to share their bottle of wine as they won ahead of Sue Clarke who returned to her former manor after many years.

Our first year has seen us put on 15 events at 11 different venues totalling 1465 entries. That is 643 different runners and walkers from 55 different clubs. 18 people have run 10 or more with Richard Taylor and Louise Gear leading the way with 14. Our largest turnout was 167 at Chipping Ongar for the 6 Geese A Laying and our smallest, yet perfectly formed, was the 43 who enjoyed a beautiful summer’s day at the Chignal fete.

This Wednesday we return to the scene of our first event, the Galleywood Gallop. Hope to see you there.


Considering the weather a good turnout of 49 runners took on Mid Essex Casuals’ latest quarter marathon trail from the Roundwood Garden Centre at Bocking.

Helen and I left home in the dry, but there was a very dark cloud coming over the horizon. Thinking that the A120 around Braintree would be a nightmare at 5.30pm I decided to go through town. Big mistake. Sat in traffic for half an hour with the rain steadily falling. When we arrived it was still chucking it down and we joined several runners timorously staying in the dry.

After a few minutes we decided it wasn’t going to get any better so set off into the dark. I can’t remember the last time I splashed through puddles but there were certainly plenty of them. I didn’t see many runners at all. Craig Dawson came past after dragging himself out of the warm and dry. Allen Smalls was next, then Terry Alabaster and Julian Holder. All of them spoke to me as they splashed by.

The rain stopped and a rainbow appeared. After two minutes the rain started again. As I finished it eased and after checking in with Dave I returned to the car to change. As I took my top off the heavens opened again.

Helen had walked the short route and I was surprised she hadn’t beaten me back. Half an hour later and she still wasn’t home. I was a bit worried as she wasn’t really dressed for the conditions and it was getting dark(er). Those that know me know I don’t use a mobile phone but I do have one in the car for emergencies. I dug out the phone and spent several minutes trying to turn it on, then a few more trying to work out how to make a call and when I eventually did the signal went down.

I went back into the finish and asked Gary Chandler for help. Not having seen a Nokia for 15 years Gary also had a bit of trouble. Just as we had decided to use Gary’s phone Helen walked through the door.

After a cup of tea we drove home with the heater on full blast and blinded by a dazzling setting sun.

The race winners were Craig Dawson and Lucy Ferguson with Roger and Taylor Gooding getting around the shorter course with ease. It was a lovely course with some excellent grass tracks. Let’s hope for some better weather this week. 



What a fabulous weekend of trail running and weather. Although Howard and I were heavily involved in the weekend the Eggstravaganza is not an Essex Trail Events series but is hosted by four local clubs, Mid Essex Casuals (Friday), Little Baddow Ridge Runners (Saturday), Grange Farm and Dunmow Runners (Sunday) and Springfield Striders (Monday). 

The weather which was forecast last year (see the bottom of our results page) helped boost numbers and Sunday and Monday were both record breakers for attendance. All the clubs have donated at least £1 per runner to the prize fund which this year stands at a staggering £726. The top 40 men and 40 women will receive something for their efforts. The best three races count. The winner of each race gets 100% and everybody else divides their time into the winner’s time to find their figure. Only the races over 5 miles count.

The overall winner was Nikki Brockbank of Springfield who had two outright wins at Panfield and Little Baddow and did enough on Monday to beat Gary Chandler also Springfield into second. Good luck to Nikki this Sunday as she takes on the London Marathon. Second lady was Lynn Higgs of Mid Essex, with Lucy Ferguson and Keely Jordan also Mid Essex sharing third spot. Gary Abbott took second in the men with Simon Ferguson third to give Mid Essex more kudos.

It was nice to see so many familiar faces and even better to see a lot of new ones. There are plenty of trails coming up, so see me there if you want to collect your prize money.

Easter Eggstravaganza  Day 1 Panfield


What a fabulous day to start the Easter Eggstravaganza. A reasonable crowd had formed before Dave showed up, but we were set off in a timely fashion.

I thought the 7 mile course was lovely and took in some territory we hadn’t run on for a few years. The drink station was needed as the sun beat down from a cloudless sky. And there was a nice pint at the finish.

175 runners took part over three distances. The most popular was the 6.9 miles with 100 entrants. Gary Chandler (Springfield Striders) won from Simon Ferguson (Mid Essex Casuals) and Paul Broome (SS) and daughter Rachel (Chelmsford). Lynn Higgs (MEC) and Vicky Knight (Tiptree) were the next ladies.

Nikki Brockbank (SS) won the 13 miler in a warm up run for London next week. She beat Sean Ketteridge (TRA) and the Halstead duo of Neil Poulter and Steve May. Nichola Norman, Sarah Hammond and Lucy Westcott (all SS) were the other leading ladies.

Ian Foskew (MEC) won the 4.7 miler from veteran Ron Dawson (MEC) and granddaughter Chloe (MEC). Next came Michelle Hunscher (Little Baddow) and Neil Young and daughter Rebekah from Southend Flyers.

Looking forward to the woods tomorrow.


Easter Eggstravaganza Day 2 Little Baddow

An early start on Saturday and running in the woods kept me a bit cooler than Friday. The bluebells were out and for me it was an enjoyable course. If you don’t like hills it was a horrendous course with several sharp climbs but some very runnable sections as well. Some very welcome refreshments back at base and still only 10 o’clock. Marvellous.

In the 11 miler Mark Duncan of the host club ran to victory followed by Mark Lawes of Tiptree with Gary Abbott of MEC third. Lynn Higgs (MEC) was first lady with Sharon Harper of Little Baddow and Christine Howard of Billericay chasing her home.

It was an outright win for Nikki Brockbank (SS) in the 5 miler almost 4 minutes ahead of team mate Gary Chandler. Ben Leeds (MEC) and Chris Hargraves (Little Baddow) claiming the minor placings. Lucy Ferguson (MEC) was second lady and Sarah Colbert (MEC) & Lucy Westcott (SS) ran in together in third.

Easter Eggstravaganza Day 3 Felsted

Still the sun shone and Howard had laid on an attractive route around the Chelmer valley and Flitch Green.

Antony Goodall (SS) made his first appearance of the weekend and romped to victory ahead of Gary Chandler (SS) and Ben Leeds (MEC). With Nikki taking a day off (which raised Gary’s hopes) Lucy Ferguson and Keely Jordan (both MEC) claimed first place. Back in third were Melissa Dowell (CHAC) and Lynn Higgs (MEC).

163 runners was a record for the Sunday and many new faces were appearing.

Easter Eggstravaganza Day 4 Great Waltham

Day 4 and still no clouds. Helen and I arrived early and were soon setting people off. In fact over 80 people had gone before the official 10am start. The decking was ideal for us as we were warm but not in the direct sunlight. Things did get fraught with people registering, starting and finishing simultaneously. I apologise if I was grumpy towards you. 

220 runners and walkers exceeded our expectations, so thanks to those early starters whose instructions we were able to recycle. Unfortunately after tearing off their voucher a few of them also tore off the last few sentences of instructions as well. 

4 hours later everyone was back and most of you stayed to enjoy a fabulous morning at the pub.

Nikki turned up much to Gary’s dismay and finished 6th in a very strong field and with only a two minute deficit took the overall weekend victory. Debbie Cattermole (CHAC) was second with Lucy and Keely completing an excellent weekend in third. Antony Goodall won from Mark Newton (SS) and Dan Reynolds (GFDR) who both short cutted the final section. Neither were in contention for prize money so I haven’t disqualified them. Just shamed them in this report. Real second place went to James Smith of Halstead. And probably third was Simon Ferguson of MEC. 

Thanks to all the organisers, helpers and pubs. And thanks to you lot for supporting us. No predictions for next year’s weather this time.


On Sunday I had a nice little tootle around Heybridge and finished just before the rains came. 

This was the first of Mid Essex Casuals’ Quarter Marathon series and started from a new venue, the Jolly Sailor which was very comfortable.

There was a long first mile along the canal and then through the industrial estate. I chose the wrong traffic island at the roundabout, but soon got back on track. The route got more interesting as we reached Chigborough Lakes and somehow, I picked up speed through the twisty paths.

After last week’s PB I was trying for a new 10k time but despite my efforts along the sea wall I missed by a minute. Still pleased with the run though.

The bar stocked some good ales, but it was pre noon so I settled for a coffee, then got soaked getting to the car park.

Andy Lager of Witham won ahead of Simon Ferguson of the host club and Heidi Steele and Andrew Conway of Colchester were next. In the shorter event Roger Duffield of Tiptree made a victorious return after injury. Doris Koh was first lady.

The next quarter marathon is on Good Friday at The Bell, Panfield.



Well done Saffron Striders on another excellent event. Perfect weather (although a little chilly to start) and some very runnable terrain made for a great day out for over 180 runners. 

I ran the half and was hoping to beat 3 hours as my post op PB was 3.08. The plan was to run five miles in the first hour, four in the second and four in the third. The first mile was downhill and my fastest mile by far. After three miles I caught a small group who en masse missed the bright white seat. I passed the Nordic formation walking group who kindly moved over to let me fly!! by and then I met the lovely Nicole from Halstead who had made a short detour. She sped off into the distance.

I then picked up a follower who could clearly run quicker than me but stayed 30 metres back. This urged me on, but the open fields meant I couldn’t shake him off. I sped up down the hill to the drink station into the enclosed path without stopping. My shadow stopped for water. This mid race spurt meant I’d reached the drink station (5.4 miles) in 57 minutes, so up on schedule.

Then followed some more open fields, and yes, he was still there but further back now. I kept my pace up and then thankfully there was a fiddly bit into a wood and I never saw him again. After the wood was a short but steep climb and I caught up with Nicole again who was cleaning out her shoes. She sped off into the distance again. At about eight miles Nick White (Saffron Striders), the winner of the marathon, flew by greeting me as he did so. 

The next drink station was at 10.1 miles and I arrived here in well under two hours. Well ahead of schedule. More runners were passing now and most but not all had a cheery word. Lyn Higgs (MEC) even poured me a cup of water. Craig Dawson of Tiptree (today) had a chat on his way to victory in the half. Next it was Nick’s wife Rebecca who chatted as she sped along to victory and overall second place.

Then came my slowest mile back up the hill into Thaxted and the finish. I shouted my number and carried on along the road as I needed to make it up to a half marathon on my Garmin and create a new PB. 2:37:40 smashed it. I noted I was not the only person to do this and even when I left there were a couple running around the car park.

Cheese scones, vegetable soup, tea, coffee, snacks, and a bottle of red wine for those who pre-entered, all for £6. This is what trail running Essex style is all about. 


The talk of the Toppesfield Tens was whether you thought the horses were friendly, vicious or totally indifferent. When I checked the course last week I found them friendly until they realised I had no food then indifferent. We even provided an alternative route. 

We were so lucky with the weather, though it was still quite windy. It certainly turned nasty in the afternoon. It was nice to see both new and old faces after a quiet period for trails lately. The Green Man is a great little pub and their beer is excellent.

Regular winner Antony Goodall (SS) won the 10 miler with plenty to spare ahead of Andy Lager (Witham) and Sean Ketteridge (U/A). Nichola Norman took her second victory in an Essex Trail Events race with other regular winners Lyn Higgs and Lucy Ferguson (both MEC) close behind.

The 10km was won by Jon Hood (MEC) with Simon Morgan (CHAC) and Tim Brockington (SS) in hot pursuit. Claire Broome (U/A) was surprised to be first home with Claire Phillips and Val White (both MEC) completing the top three.

See you all on a more regular basis in the coming months.  



What a glorious day for a trail. Shame we had to spend it in the pub . 

82 runners enjoyed some great conditions for running on some new paths. Over 25% of the field were new to our events and we hope you all enjoyed yourselves. All very pleasing when this was last minute and there were plenty of other popular events on. Howard excelled himself with an interesting route and a brilliant choice of pub. We will be returning here in the summer.

Antony Goodall (SS) returned from a parkrun trip to Treviso, near Venice on Saturday to storm around the 7.4 miles and win by over 9 minutes. Another regular winner of our events, Lyn Higgs (MEC), won the ladies prize also with a comfortable margin (almost 5 minutes).

In the shorter run the youngsters had a chance to shine and Izzie and Ellie Barclay and Liam Paton took the prizes (with mum’s permission).

Due to club cross countries in February we are taking a short breather, but you can still get your trail fix with three Nightmare at The Elms races held by Mid Essex Casuals before we return with the Toppesfield 10s in March.


Been a bit busy so haven’t reported on all the Christmas Trails. Mid Essex Casuals hosted three events over the festive period to keep us entertained.

Things kicked off on the Saturday before Christmas with Run with the Elves organised by Sharon Skidmore and Katy Rehal. Little Baddow is one of the best running areas in the county with loads of hills, woods and tracks. The route took in some of the best bits (apart from one ploughed field – we got you back the following week with two ploughed fields of our own). A “wingling” course through the woods with the help of some well-placed Christmas baubles was followed by more open scenery and then the climb to the finish at the Generals Arms.

The winners were Chris Burgoyne (SS) and Lyn Higgs (MEC) on the longer run, with locals Katie and Ian Brazier winning the short. It’s always nice when local celebrities turn up - no not Ian and Katie, but Nasser Hussain the ex-England cricketer.

On to Sunday with Dave Game’s Reindeer Roundup. The Museum of Power has been a regular Christmas venue over the years and it is one I always look forward to. Three distances here with Antony Goodall (SS) and Rebecca White (Saff) winning the 5.5 miler, Taylor Gooding (Braintree) and dad Roger (SS) heading the 3.1 miler and Antony again this time with daughter Mimi storming to victory in the 1.2 mile trot.

On New Years Day it was all over to Good Easter for Yan Stile’s Hair of the Dog. Despite the lure of double park runs all over Essex 120 hardy souls turned up, mostly with clear heads. The Ferguson family were to the fore again after their winning efforts at our race at Ongar on Sunday. Simon and Will (both MEC) won the 6.3 miler with Lyn Higgs taking the ladies prize. In the 3.6 miler it was the other Ferguson pairing of Lucy and Jo who took the victory.

Three great days of trail running. Thank you, Mid Essex Casuals.


What a great turnout. We had 101 copies of the 10 mile instructions and 101 entries and along with almost 70 in the 5 miler it was our biggest turnout yet.

Christmas had certainly taken its toll on some of you, but our winners were in superb form. Can you run 10 miles in 66 minutes? Can you run 10 hilly and very muddy miles in 66 minutes? James Bosher of Grange Farm can. A remarkable winning margin for one of the most unassuming and popular runners on the local running scene. Almost 7 minutes behind was James Smith of Halstead with another great run ahead of Tarmac Twister winner Craig Dawson of Mid Essex. 

James may have dominated the men’s event, but Nikki Brockbank won the ladies by an even greater margin ahead of Melissa Dowell (Colchester) and Lyn Higgs (MEC). Nikki was fourth overall in an excellent time of 1.17.25 leaving many top trail runners in her wake.

The 5 miler saw a lot of new faces. The local mid Essex clubs have been putting on this type of race for at least 20 years. It is great that the word is now spreading and more unattached runners are finding out about them. If you really don’t want to join a club why not join the Trail Running Association for a mere £10 a year and you will save £2 every time you run a UKA permitted trail race?

Winner of the short race was young Will Ferguson of Mid Essex Casuals with his mum Lucy completing the double. Chris Beazeley (Springfield) on his birthday and David Lumbey (TRA) were second and third with Keighley Jordan (MEC) and Nichola Norman (Springfield), a winner from this venue in the summer, completing the top three for the ladies.

We presented Marissa Christie and Louise Gear, both of Springfield, with long service awards. They have completed all our events in 2018. Thanks very much for the support.

Next is Hair of the Dog on New Year’s Day. Yan is quaking in his boots at the prospect of 170 runners turning up. See you all next year.



The Search for Santa, organised by Howard and Chris of Grange Farm and Dunmow Runners proved popular again on a great night for running. The course was slippery in places after the poor weather of the previous 24 hours, but was mainly on good paths. An excellent well written route description got most people around without too many detours. Even in the dark it was an attractive route which I can recommend you try in daylight sometime.  

The Dog and Partridge was welcoming (probably not had that many customers on a Wednesday night for a long time) and the bauble tree in the woods was tastefully decorated. We even had an open-air carol concert to run past as we searched for Santas dotted around the course.

James Bosher and Dan Reynolds covered the course in 55:43 with Andrew Lager of Witham third three minutes later. Sarah Wilson Frost of LDWA was first lady home with Lyn Higgs (MEC) and Melissa Dowell (CHAC) the next to finish. All these times are subject to time bonuses so we will have to wait and see who actually won.

See you all at Little Baddow or Langford this weekend.


What a great turnout after our two month gap. Howard came up with an interesting course and the weather gods were good to us on the day after playing up all week.

Howard should go into fortune telling after printing off 90 long and 60 short route descriptions as 85 and 51 of you duly turned up. The Chequers keeps an excellent pint and the bacon butties seemed to go well.  

In the 9.5 miler top trail runner Allen Smalls (CHAC) gained a four minute victory over two of his former training partners Shaun Ketteridge, who now just runs for fun and Gav Allen of Halstead. The ladies prize was shared by Lyn Higgs (MEC) and Melissa Dowell (CHAC).

In the 5.5 miler the overall winner was Sue Clarke (MEC) who is more often these days competing in World and European Duathlon Championships. Sue obviously enjoyed a return to her old stomping ground. Kevin Gard also of MEC was second to finish and first man home.

December is certainly a good month for local trails with Search for Santa (GFDR), DUK (MEC) and Xmas at the Museum (MEC) all taking place before the big day and we return with Six Geese A-Laying on December 30.

If we don’t see you before, have a great Christmas and a healthy new year.


I’ve been out on the course several times in the last few weeks and not a drop of rain. Saturday brought all the missing rain in one go and when I woke up on Sunday morning it was still chucking it down. However, as we left the house at 8.30 to put out the drink station there was a rainbow in the sky.

What followed was a beautiful morning and a record field with great turnouts from Mid Essex Casuals, Tiptree and Witham. We also attracted quite a few newcomers. Thanks to Helen who was going to walk the short one, but stayed to help with the queue.

This was the 22nd year of the Hobble and the route has always changed every year. A few of you recognised that a fair bit of the route was similar to four years ago but in reverse. Thanks to Writtle University College for permission to run through their farm rather than you all having to face the dog on the official footpath through the garden.

For the first time in many years we were the first to arrive at the venue, so were able to set up without any pressure. We had several people who were new to this type of trail running so asked them to read the instructions and ask any questions before they set off. There were plenty of sensible questions, but one which took me aback was, “What is a stile?” It just goes to show you can’t assume things these days. My reply by the way was “You’ll know by the time you finish”.

The race was dominated by the host club with Chris Burgoyne and Nikki Brockbank finishing first and second in the 14 miler and Jon Byford and Polly Bridgman winning the 5.8 mile trip around Hylands Park.

Next year’s course will go east.



What a great turnout and lots of new faces. We were a little worried that the clubhouse wouldn’t be big enough, but it just made it more cosy and sociable. Apart from nice routes to run this sort of trail running has a social side you don’t get at larger events. If this was a new experience for you we hope you enjoyed it and will be back for more.

It was great to see people comparing their Strava maps afterwards. Just a tip. If you post on facebook  and have taken a short cut to the finish across the field, we now all know. On the catering front we needed more pizzas, less bananas and definitely less soup, but hopefully you all got something to eat and drink at the finish. 

Now to the race itself. The outright winner and not for the first time was Nikki Brockbank of Springfield Striders. Admittedly Nikki is local but that didn’t help other natives who were at the other end of the field. First man was Craig Dawson running for Mid Essex Casuals. 

Out of 115 finishers 70 were ladies (over 60%). I think it was the medal that attracted them, but maybe the attraction was the not so bright lights of Chelmer Village.

One of the pre-race favourites ran 9.6 miles which considering the furthest point from the club house was .67 miles is tantamount to running in circles.

Anyway, thanks to you all for coming on a school night especially those travelling 20, 30 or even 40 miles. Our next race is not until December 9th, but there are plenty of other local trails before then. See Local Events Page for details.



Unfortunately what had been clear and obvious paths a few weeks ago had gone to the plough, but at least it was dry. Last week would have been a real nightmare. One runner who wasn’t too impressed was Yan Stile, but after finding out that he was indeed the winner of the 7 miler declared it “the best course ever” which of course is how we will advertise it in future. Other new winners were Justin Ruggles who is new to trail running this year and Sharon Bannister who won the short event.

Our other winners are no strangers to the podium with Jon Byford and Lyn Higgs taking the honours in the 13.4 miler and Sarah Colbert (apparently now back on the booze) triumphing in the 7 miler.

It was great to meet some runners from new clubs and hopefully they will be back for more. Just a note to any race organisers out there. If Flyers Southend turn up at your race you will be regaled with stories of Red Arrows practice sessions and how good the beer was at the pub in Tillingham which wasn’t even on the route. A great bunch of people who claimed that their shirts weren’t fluorescent orange until they neared the power station.

Keep a look out on this site and our facebook page for future events. Our next one is the Tarmac Twister Trail on the roads in the dark. Something different, but if the Flyers come you won’t need a torch. 


Monsoon season arrived at last but didn’t stop 53 “hardy” runners turning up at High Roding.

It was an attractive course even in the horrible conditions and strangely the wettest parts were the roads which were flooded in places. There were a lot of good grass paths and tracks and only a couple of ploughed fields unfortunately the one in the last mile was horrendous and I now have quite a bit of it in my car, the doorstep and the hallway at home.

James Bosher won from Steve Read to give the host club bragging rights with Paul Dellar of Tiptree in third. The ladies featured three of the great supporters of these races over the years with Lyn Higgs (Mid Essex) in first followed by Sarah Colbert (Springfield) and Pru Hayhow (Grange Farm).

It took me hours to warm up afterwards, we even put the heating on; so well done to the organisers who sat outside all morning under their happily waterproof gazebo.

Next week is Bradwell. The weather forecast for the week is dry. Hopefully see you there.


Well what a cracking afternoon. Dunmow Carnival was a way bigger affair than we thought it was going to be with lots of things to do and see for all the family.

The high profile advertising campaign of the bufflike snood thingys by Teds attracted runners from far and wide.  There was disappointment in some quarters that he did not make a personal appearance but we just couldn’t afford him (and his entourage).

Anyway it was a welcome return to form for Sarah Colbert winning by almost seven minutes and we will be buying her a box of chocolates as apparently she and Dave have given up drinking. Dave didn’t know this by the way.

The winning men were Antony Goodall and James Bosher who waited until late on to start so won the race even though they were the last to finish. Trail running eh? 

We were pleased to see a lot of entrants actually sporting their newly acquired bufflike snood thingys and in some cases improving their personal appearance greatly.

Some liked the course others didn’t, but it was a shame to see the old Stebbing cross country course all fenced off bogs and all.

Our next event is at Bradwell and we can promise you flatness and sky although the route profile of the 13 miler indicates 300 feet of ascent. It must be those 150 stiles (only joking).


There were an awful lot of races on this weekend so we were delighted to attract 85 runners to the Green Man at Toppesfield. When I arrived, Howard was there with three people waiting to enter. Two from Norwich and one from East London. What time do these people get up in the morning?

The longer run not only saw a new winner but a new top three. Paul Dellar of Tiptree ran to victory and will get a bottle of wine if we ever catch up with him, plus we need a photo for our gallery. Second was Miles Coulson of Mid Essex Casuals who like me suffers most Saturdays following the same very poor local football team. And it was great to see Jon Hood also of Mid Essex featuring so well up the field.

We also had a new lady winner with Sue Clarke again of Mid Essex just edging out team mate Lyn Higgs and Sarah Colbert of Springfield.

The shorter race was actually won by Scott and Stuart Darney who turned up after 12 having run at Langham in the morning. We had already awarded the prize to Phil Presland of Great Bentley but they didn’t seem to mind. Millie Presland and Madelaine Clayton were the fastest around the short course.

As it turned out it was a very relaxing day with no long queues and no major mishaps bar a couple of fallers and no rescue missions required. Most agreed it was a lovely area with a friendly pub. We will definitely be back.  


It was a glorious sunny morning for the start of the Essex Way Relay at Epping Station. Arriving at 7.30 there were already plenty of people milling around and moaning that the station master had locked the toilets.

A whistle from Sally and the 82 mile trip to Harwich had begun. There was much dithering and following going on, on this leg with several different leaders, but by the finish Benfleet had notched their first win of the day ahead of Grange Farm and Witham. Leigh Striders ladies headed Southend with Springfield B in third. The vets race was headed by Southend, Harwich and Springfield.

Then it was the race from Chipping Ongar to the bacon butties at Good Easter. Springfield proved to be the hungriest followed by Benfleet and Harwich. Benfleet now led overall from Springfield and Grange Farm. Southend ladies won this leg holding off Halstead and Benfleet. Southend and Leigh swapped overall places and the Springfield Ladies B team remained ahead of the A squad. First vets were Grange Farm with Mid Essex second and Harwich third. This left the overall as Harwich, Southend, Grange Farm.

Next to Little Leighs and the race and the weather were both hotting up. Springfield gained another win from Leigh and the Striders second string were third. Springfield now went to the top of the leader board two points ahead of Benfleet who were in turn just two ahead of Leigh in a very close competition. Harwich Ladies swept to victory on this leg ahead of Springfield A and Leigh leaving the overall as 1. Southend 2. Leigh 3. Springfield A. Winning vets team was Springfield with Southend and Mid Essex chasing. Harwich had no runner so lost their place at the top of the table which now read 1. Southend 2. Springfield 3. Grange Farm.

It was Leigh, Springfield and Grange Farm who reached Cressing church first to leave the leader board now reading 1. Springfield 9pts 2. Leigh 12 3. Benfleet 14. Springfield Ladies convincingly won this leg ahead of Thrift Green and Harwich. Overall 1. Springfield 70 2. Southend 83 3. Leigh 93. Springfield, Mid Essex and Harwich were the first three vets home. Overall 1. Springfield 68 2. Southend 94 3. Mid Essex 97. 

Benfleet closed the gap winning the leg to Great Tey ahead of Southend with Springfield third. The top three now were to battle it out to the finish. 1. Springfield 12 2. Benfleet 15 3. Witham 27. Southend ladies won the leg and sneaked back into the lead by one point. Leigh just edged out Springfield. 1. Southend 97 2. Springfield 98 3. Leigh 120. Springfield, Grange Farm and Harwich was the order of the vets’ finishers to leave the scoreboard reading 1. Springfield 79 2. Mid Essex 113 3. Grange Farm 123.

Then came the stage that changed things. It is only a short run to West Bergholt but obviously with a lot of opportunity to get lost. The outright winner of the leg was a Billericay Strider lady running for their A team. Next in was Benfleet with Witham third. The first Springfield team to finish was the ladies’ B team, then the men’s B team and finally in 14th the men’s A team. The leader board now read 1. Benfleet 17 2. Springfield 26 3. Witham 30. For the ladies, it was Southend again beating Springfield B and Benfleet. 1. Southend 104 2. Springfield 138 3. Leigh 143 Grange Farm, Southend and Mid Essex all closed in on Springfield in the vets’ race. 1. Springfield 108 2. Grange Farm 129 3. Mid Essex 141.

It was back to normal for the longest leg of the day into a very busy Dedham. Southend, Benfleet and Halstead were first home. So, Benfleet increased their lead further to 12 points. Springfield remained second with 31 and Witham close behind with 34. Harwich Ladies claimed another win ahead of Southend and Flyers Southend. Southend now had a comfortable lead ahead of Springfield and Leigh. Springfield, Mid Essex and Harwich were top vets. Overall 1. Springfield 117 2. Grange Farm 152 3. Mid Essex 155.

Leg 8 saw Southend and Grange Farm edge out Springfield. Springfield closed the gap on Benfleet to 10 points and now led Witham by four. The first ladies into Bradfield were Benfleet ahead of Leigh and Southend. Southend had 150pts, Leigh 208, Springfield 209 and Benfleet were closing fast on 220. Springfield, Mid Essex and Grange Farm were first vets and Mid Essex sneaked past Grange Farm into second spot.

None of the top three featured on the race to Ramsay as Thrift Green claimed victory over Southend and Grange Farm. However, Benfleet increased their lead to 13 points with Witham slipping a further point back on second placed Springfield. Southend, Benfleet and Springfield finished ahead of the ladies’ field to set up a real battle on the final stage. Southend had clinched it barring disaster with 165 points, but Springfield 233, Leigh 234 and Benfleet 242 had it all to play for. Harwich, Mid Essex and Grange Farm held off Springfield in the vets to leave the scores 1. Springfield 149 2. Mid Essex 183 and 3. Grange Farm 189.

The most exciting finish to the race for years meant that podium positions in all three races were in the balance. It was no surprise when the perennial winner of the last leg to Harwich lighthouse brought Springfield home first. Next it was Leigh followed by Grange Farm, Harwich, Witham, Springfield B and Springfield Vets. Then in came Benfleet but it was the ladies team. Next were Southend ladies and then to huge cheers and great relief to the Benfleet supporters came the Benfleet A team to clinch the Essex Way Trophy. 

The leg was a triumph for Benfleet as their ladies moved up from fourth to second. 

After the dust had settled the final positions were 


Benfleet      38

Springfield  42

Witham       51


Southend     174

Benfleet       250

Springfield   252


Springfield      156

Mid Essex       217

Grange Farm 219

A great day out. Thanks to all the organisers, marshals, drink stations and supporters and don’t forget to leave the first Sunday of September free for next year’s Essex Way Relay.   


A very pleasing turnout of 80 for the last summer evening trail at the Farmhouse Inn. Runners came from far and wide to the small village of Monk Street to enjoy the tracks in this pleasant part of the county.

Nikki Brockbank now appears three times in our winners’ gallery after yet another storming run beating the male winner Nick White by almost five minutes. Nick is another previous winner and led in a strong Saffron Striders contingent which included Fiona Halls and Rebecca White who finished joint second. The men’s placings were completed by on form Jon Byford and newcomer Alan Findlay of Bishop Stortford.

Further down the field all sorts of shenanigans were going on. 

Gary Joslin realised after a couple of miles that he’d dropped his car keys. He carried on to the finish to check that he hadn’t put them in our key box, then set off again and found them in the very first field. Lucky man. 

The two courses intertwined which caused much confusion to those that follow rather than read. We now know how many of you follow. I shake my head.

Telegraph pole no.9 was the next problem. Despite some tape several people ran some distance and found another telegraph pole no.9. I’m sure I could run out of my front door and find a telegraph pole no.9. I shake my head again.

We received a phone call from an experienced runner telling us our instructions were wrong. Howard patiently dealt with this as the queue to register gradually built up. My head is in my hands.

Michelle’s Running Group run past the finish en-masse. My head hits the table. It turns out they are out for an eight mile run and our course is only seven point five.

Anyway it’s now dark and everyone’s back and in good spirits. Hang on, on checking our sophisticated personnel tracking system there are still two people out there. Contact is made and Howard fires up Thunderbird Three and goes to retrieve them.

Quite an eventful night.


By the way there was also a shorter run and congratulations to Phil and Milly Presland who romped to victory. 


The Wheatsheaf at Tattingstone is a great little pub and is ideally placed to utilise the paths and tracks of the Alton Water area. Clare and John laid on an excellent course and for most of us a dry one. A few later starters encountered the forecast rain.

Jon Byford gained his first ever trail win in convincing fashion winning by over nine minutes ahead of fellow Springfield clubmate Tim Brockington. Third overall went to Melissa Dowell of Colchester. Benjamin Leeds of the host club Mid Essex Casuals claimed third spot for the men while the ladies’ podium was completed by Deborah Cubberley of Great Bentley and Lorraine Baker of Tiptree.

The Striders were to the fore in the shorter run as well with Sarah Colbert winning the ladies, but it was a victorious return to competition for Dan Augustin of MEC who just pipped Gary Wright of Springfield by two seconds.

There are a host of events in the next few weeks to round off the summer.


Older News

Tiptree discussing their route choices

Curly, Whirly and Twirly


A great turnout for the last Western Whirligig of the series. If you didn’t know the area before you certainly do now, but I’m not sure it will do you any good. I like courses like this as those people that follow rather than read the instructions find out why you really should read the instructions.

Allen Smalls took the honours in the longer run ahead of Jon Byford and Craig Dawson, while victory for the ladies went to Nikki Brockbank, despite being duped by Dave’s instructions (as was I and several others) in Rivenhall Thicks. Second was Vicky Knight and third Lyn Higgs.

After not agreeing with the instructions I rather lost interest in my time until I saw that Dave had added 7 minutes to my time to rub further salt into the wound. Legal proceedings have been instituted to claim my time back.

The shorter course was won by Ian Foskew and Anna Troubridge and Bill Smythe and Vicky Knight took the overall series titles. All those that completed the three races received a Curlywurly and a Twirl chocolate bar. I think I should have been given a Time Out.

Thanks Dave and Mid Essex Casuals for another great series.

Next up is The Wonder – A View on Sunday. 

Burgoyne and Brockbank Blaze to Victory


Chris Burgoyne ran a stunning time of 1.11.42 over the 11.5 mile Admiral McHardy Way course to win by over 8 minutes from the hardly pedestrian winner of our last trail Antony Goodall. The ever impressive Nikki Brockbank claimed her third winner’s prize in an excellent 1.22.54 and well done to Andrew Conway who for once managed to keep up with her. Lyn Higgs and Melissa Dowell completed the top three ladies.

In the Chelmer Trail William Hogart Jones was a convincing winner ahead of Phil Davies, who didn’t trust a recent injury would get him around the longer run, with Alan Stewart in third. Polly Bridgman and Nicky Hands will have to share their bottle of wine. Mother and daughter Sharon and Jade Robey were equal third in their first go at trail running.

It was great to see lots of new faces at these two races and hopefully we will see you again soon.

There was as usual a lovely atmosphere at the clubhouse with even those that had gone wrong enjoying the routes. 

Thanks to Katia and Helen on tea duty, Gary on the bar and Jackie for clearing up the water stations.

Next up is Mid Essex Casuals’ Western Whirligig No.3 on Wednesday. See you there.

Norman Conquest


A pleasing turnout for a new venue and running area, and everyone seemed to enjoy the route, particularly the immaculately trimmed enclosed path.

After recent torrid conditions it was nice to run in a pleasant 24C on a bright sunny evening, although some people looked quite hot at the finish which was probably due to the fast runnable course.

Most things went well on the night despite Yan single-armedly destroying our registration system and only four people ignored the instructions to cross at the crossing (in full view of Howard and me at the finish). Oh and a tip for David Hurley -  as a general rule we like to have the finish at the same pub as the start – easier all round really.

Antony Goodall continued his fine run of form to win by over three and a half minutes from Greg Wisken and Julian Catmull. Nichola Norman became a new name on our winners’ board with an excellent run ahead of Sarah Colbert and Lorraine Baker.

Although in the west of the county we attracted runners from Great Bentley, Braintree, Halstead, Castle Point, Thurrock and Colchester as well as the usual suspects. A couple of locals also gave it a go and we hope to see them again soon. The word is slowly spreading.

We will definitely be back next year to the Cock Tavern to further discover the superb paths and tracks of this area.

Up next for us is the double header of Chelmer Trail and Admiral McHardy Way from Springfield Cricket Club on 19 August. 

The Heat Goes On


Well the heat goes on.  I was getting boiled and that was in the queue outside the scout hut. After just 30 minutes in the queue I reached the cool and shade of the inner sanctum of the hall, entered and promptly went back outside to start the run.

The first few miles were a bit shadeless, but then a lovely enclosed stretch along the old railway line followed with the added bonus of a water station at the end. Antony Goodall, the eventual winner of the longer run, passed me on the road to the church. We did have a chat, but luckily for him it was brief, as he went on to win from Nikki Brockbank by just 3 seconds.

I was now on familiar ground as I reached the river. Despite plenty of trees alongside the Chelmer none of them had aligned themselves properly to blot out the sun. It wasn’t until Bumfords Lane that any shade came to the rescue. Then I was back out in the sun as I followed the mighty River Ter all the way to the lovely Nounsley ford which was all of one inch deep.

In the last half mile a rather large tree had fallen across the path. I imagine Nikki B just limboed underneath at speed. I bent down and got jammed, my knees wouldn’t bend any further. I used to laugh at Len Clark 20 years ago and now I’m even stiffer than he was.

I was in the last few to finish but there was still a little beer and salad left. Over 140 runners have Dave Game to thank for this. He had to change the course three times in the last two weeks, obviously there was too much shade on his original course. 

Seriously, thanks Dave, Sylvie, Diana and Mid Essex Casuals for another great value for money event.

According to Countryfile Wednesday evening is going to be a chilly 24C. Hopefully see you at Chipping Ongar for a hot chocolate at the finish.

Hot Huffer


The Huffer Puffer has been on the calendar since 2004 and it is still popular today. John and Sue Clarke have been plotting the routes from the Compasses at Littley Green for all these years, but this must qualify as the hottest one yet. Sue by the way has just become World Duathlon Champion in her age group, beating mainly USA competition in Denmark.

Anyone with any sense would have waited until the temperatures had cooled a little. So I set off before 6pm with the mercury still touching 30. The combine harvester didn’t help matters as the dust spewed across the first field. I plodded on my way. It really was a struggle, but still no one came past me until at mile 4 Nikki Brockbank flashed by.

As it became slightly cooler I began to pick up the pace (everything is relative) and I enjoyed the last mile as it weaved through the “keep leftish” field and then up the road back to the now very busy pub. Howard got me a pint of Green Jack Golden Best, absolute nectar, and I slowly cooled down.

It was now 7.15 and the sensible people were just turning up to start their runs. We spent a very sociable hour eating and drinking with the lovely bunch of people that are Essex trail runners.


Thanks John and Sue for what was probably the most huffing puffing Huffer Puffer ever.

Good Easter Trail


Well that was a hot one. I’m certainly looking forward to the monsoon season. 

We set off along the Essex Way which even though it provided quite a bit of shade on the bridleways still didn’t calm the heat. There are plenty of good paths in this area and Yan took us along many of them including passing his own house/mansion where he provided a Turkish Delight feed station.

Antony Goodall had a fine run to win by six minutes from Gary Joslin and Donna Hindle and Nichola Norman made it a clean sweep for Springfield.

The event was well supported by the regular trail runners especially those that did the Lamarsh Trail earlier in the day and it was nice to see a good turnout of local families taking on the 3.5 mile challenge.

Next up is the ever popular Huffer Puffer from the Compasses at Littley Green.


Even Older News


Tour of Terling



Antony Goodall ran into the overall lead with a fine win on the navigator trail and Sarah Hammond ran an amazing race to win on the night and move within seconds of the overall behind Sarah Colbert.

As promised we got wet feet early on at the river crossing. All the clippers were on the racing line but some were quite sneakily placed. The plethora of footpath signs also caused problems for some.

A great run in some lovely countryside. 

Day 3 the multi terrain race and Day 4 the uphill and downhill miles will complete the tour for another year.

The tour started in airless conditions. On arrival there were clouds but they were soon burnt away by the scorching sun. Luckily there was a fair amount of shade on the course and two very necessary drink stations.

Richard Flutter of Colchester took the honours on Day 1 (he was flying when he passed me) by 25 seconds from the Springfield duo of Jon Byford and Antony Goodall. 8 miles wasn’t enough for these two as Jon continued for another four miles to keep to his schedule and after an espresso Antony set off to run the eight miles home.

Lynn Higgs of MEC ran solo for a change and duly won by almost six minutes from Vicky Knight of Tiptree and Sarah Colbert of Springfield in third.

Ian Foskew of MEC continued his comeback winning the four mile event.

Dave has intimated that tonight’s navigator trail might include getting wet feet. 

Nikki Wins Whirligig 2


An outright win for Nikki Brockbank (Springfield Striders) with an excellent time of 44.07 beat Craig Dawson (Mid Essex Casuals) who clocked 45.16. Gavin Long of Saffron Striders was third in 47.38.

61 runners took on the challenge of the Western Whirligig 2 on a course that initially seemed to be the reverse of Whirligig 1, however after about a mile the course diverted to twist through Tarecroft Wood a couple of times before returning through the aptly named Rivenhall Thicks back to the Western Arms.

A missing piece of carpet caused some confusion for a few but otherwise there were no problems other than trying to keep cool in very warm conditions. 

Another 12 runners/walkers completed the 3 mile event.

Thanks again to Dave Game for the course and don’t forget his Tour of Terling starts this Sunday..

Twiddly Dee


What a lovely evening. Although there was a trail from this pub only a few weeks ago, 87 people were tempted back and treated to a completely different course which certainly lived up to its title. Twiddly it was, however newcomers and experienced runners alike all came to grips with the instructions and most returned to the Stag without major mishap. 

When I checked the course last week I was struck (top of the head actually) by how low I had to stoop through some of the narrow paths, so great credit to our winner Nick White of Saffron Striders who was one of the tallest entrants. His time of 37.43 was almost matched by our winning lady Nikki Brockbank (Springfield Striders) who had the advantage of height (lack of it) as she covered the course in a superb time of 37.59. A well earned bottle of wine each to these two next time we see you.

The ladies did well with Rebecca White (Saffron Striders) and Vicky Knight (Tiptree RR) finishing 4th and 10th respectively.

Thanks to those that travelled up from the south of the county on a school night and welcome to those that were trying our version of trail running for the first time. 

Next trail is Western Whirlygig No.2 at Silver End (Mid Essex Casuals) next Wednesday. Loads more on our calendar page. 

Ridley Round


When I got our new Essex Trail Events gazebo out the shed it started to spit with rain, but luckily for us that was it for the day and we were treated to ideal conditions for running, walking and drinking.

All was calm when Howard and I met at the Compasses at nine. We put up the gazebo without anyone losing a finger and I returned home to pick up Helen and Theresa. When we came back 30 minutes later there were people everywhere.

An amazing number of people had turned up. Had they been attracted by our gazebo that proudly proclaimed “sextrailevents” or were they here for the round? I quickly moved the “already entered” sign to save confusion. There were two queues, one very short (those that had pre-registered) and one very long (those that hadn’t), a lesson to be learnt there perhaps. Despite the queues everyone seemed in good spirits and that’s before the drinking.


After being of minimal help I decided to “run” the race myself. A nice generally downhill start brought me to the Green Man where they had a pint called Runner (had to be done). From here through lovely Langleys to the Walnut Tree, the pub that time forgot. I love the place but it is not everybody’s cup of tea, although you are guaranteed a perfect pint every time as long as you’ve brought cash. (I think they have electricity).

Then it was along the bridleways to the Leather Bottle at Pleshey where I enjoyed a nice drop of Bo66y’s (World Cup reference). It was getting rather warm as I trudged up the slope out of the village, but I kept on shuffling with the knowledge there would be another pint in a few miles.

The Butcher’s Arms has had a chequered history over the years but they seem to have got it right now. Just wish they hadn’t painted all the old timber beams and walls white. Friendly service, a nice pint and a beer garden with a view was being enjoyed by quite a few Ridley Rounders, especially the gin guzzling Essex Boot Camp ladies.

All that remained was to follow the Chelmer valley back to the old brewery, then up the hill back to the welcoming Compasses with Joss and his team. Howard was still smiling as he downed his umpteenth pint. (The results will be up one day).

Well what have we learnt? We need to sort out registration and parking. Those new to trail running have found out what a friendly bunch we are. Please spread the news. You can raise a decent amount for charity (over £1000) without charging a fortune.


But the main lesson for me was that just by blocking out two letters on our gazebo we could start a whole new hobby. Watch this space!

The Runway Trail or should that be the Lunway Trail


It is an easy mistake to make when you are running in a trail race turning right instead of left, but when the instructions tell you to go right when they actually mean left it can create chaos.

I came across a reasonably large group of people standing in a rape field scratching their heads. “Here’s Kevin, he’ll know where to go”. I followed the instructions and reached the track as expected, but ‘turn sharp right on track’ brought me to a standstill. There was a sharp right, but not on a track, so I went right along the track and on reaching a bridge that was not mentioned, decided to return to the point of confusion. There was only one option, there was a sharp left turn on track so we followed this and 30 metres later the instructions all fell into place and off we all went back on course.

Nobody died and to be fair nobody was too bothered (that is the way with trail runners) and when someone eventually did reach the finish and reported the error the organisers despatched someone to marshal the track.

Again to be fair the instructions to that point had been a bit vague in places but were fine to get you round the course. Maybe this is why everyone was loath to give left a go after right was so obviously wrong. 

I’ve been writing narrative route descriptions for 30 years and it is a skill, but Howard had to correct a line in my Chignal trail instructions when he checked them last week (we always check our courses the week before an event).

Trail instructions vary from person to person and might confuse some people some of the time, but it is very rare that they contain an actual mistake. If this was your first trail race and this affected you, you have been very unlucky.

Anyway it was a cracking course from a nice pub. Hopefully see some of you there again on June 27 for the Twiddly Dee Twiddly Dum. We will be triple checking our instructions.

That Hot and Tingly Feeling


The Chignal Fete trail attracted a small but perfectly formed field of runners on a sometimes warm, sometimes downright hot day. It was great to see that other than enjoying the race most competitors also entered into the spirit of the fete and could be found enjoying themselves at the coconut shy and tombola, although the most popular spot was the tearoom in the village hall.

Chris Beazeley easily won the men’s event ahead of Tim Brockington, but they were split by the lady winner Nikki Brockbank who has missed recent trails through illness. Sarah Colbert was again second lady. All these runners are Springfield Striders, but there were representatives from Mid Essex Casuals, Tiptree, Grange Farm & Dunmow Runners, Thrift Green Trotters and Little Baddow Ridge Runners.

We had attempted to clear the course as much as possible, but hardly anyone survived unstung by the nettles which make these paths less trodden. We may have seemed quite laid back, well we were as there we no long queues or hassles. But if you had seen us at 11 o’clock trying to put up the gazebo you would have seen a different picture.

A thoroughly enjoyable day for us and we hope for you, especially those that won cakes in the raffle.

Back to when we started News


Whirligig No.1


We have run from the Western Arms on numerous occasions and the paths are well known to many of us, however it never gets boring running around the Essex countryside in glorious sunny weather.

Well known the paths may  be, but it didn’t stop a few navigational errors taking place. The first mistake of the evening was Dave setting up his laptop in the bright sunlight meaning he couldn’t see the screen. After retreating to the bar he got underway registering the traditional queue that now snaked around the pub.

Some heavy rain in recent days meant that there was the odd patch of mud, but in general the underfoot conditions were firm and dry. There were two courses with the six miler being the most popular attracting 63 runners. 18 tackled the 3.4 miler.

Allen Smalls (Colchester) was a convincing winner beating runner up Heydon Mizon (Witham) by almost 7 minutes. As per the Galleywood Gallop it was Lynn Higgs (Mid Essex) edging out Sarah Colbert (Springfield) in the ladies event.

In the short race it was a rare victory for Anthony Knight who accompanied Anne Marie to a Tiptree double.

The Western Arms was very welcoming and we will be returning over the summer for Whirligig 2 & 3.

Galloping Success


Well that was busy. Thanks very much for the support.

130 people tackled a very fast course on a pleasant, though somewhat chilly, evening and all returned to enjoy the delights of the Horse and Groom. 

When I planned and ran the course about a month ago the ground was saturated and in parts a full on swamp. What a difference on the night with rock hard and rutted ground. When I named the race the Galleywood Gallop it referred to the old racecourse, but it seems it was very aptly named considering the speed that some of you hurtled into the finish. Please let us know if you think your time is wrong as we had a lot of breathless runners arriving in batches.

We attracted runners from as far south as Castle Point and Southend and as far north as Sudbury as well as from the regular trail supporters of Springfield, Tiptree, Mid Essex and Little Baddow, but we were most pleased with the large number of new faces both from clubs and unattached. Hopefully we have attracted some new runners to this vibrant and inexpensive branch of the sport.

Our two winners have been supporting and winning trail races for many years. Despite his efforts in the Halstead Marathon at the weekend Allen Smalls (Colchester Harriers) sprinted round the course in an amazing time of 34.24. He finished over 90 seconds ahead of Dan Reynolds and James Bosher (both Grange Farm & Dunmow Runners).

The ladies race was closer with Lyn Higgs (Mid Essex Casuals) claiming the bottle of Malbec in 43.59 ahead of Sarah Colbert (Springfield Striders) in 44.35.

Next up is Dave Game’s Western Whirligig (MEC) and that is followed by Chignal Fete (ETE) see local events calendar for more details. 

Tiptree Twister


Despite some popular local road races taking place Tiptree still attracted 93 runners and walkers to their Peter Bouldstridge Memorial Trails on Sunday.

On arrival at the Heybridge Industrial Estate you could be forgiven for thinking that this would not be a very scenic course. However, after a surprisingly grassy (and nettly) footpath to the sea wall and a short trip through a new housing estate, we were on the canal towpath. A couple of turns later we were in open countryside, then back to the river and the joining of the Blackwater and the Chelmer.

This was followed by a quick loop around to Beeleigh Abbey, back along the river to Fullbridge, over the river back towards Langford then tracks to the north before the return to the finish. Despite heavy rain on the Saturday it was still mainly firm underfoot. All in all a very interesting course. Peter would have loved it.

Simon Ferguson (MEC) was the clear winner of the 9.6 mile run with Melissa Dowell (CHAC) and Lynn Higgs (MEC) the first ladies. The 5.5 miler was won by Tim Brockington (SS) with Sue Clarke (MEC) the first lady. Mia Lawes and Ann-Marie Bearne took the honours for the host club in the 3 mile event.

All the entry fees will be donated to Farleigh Hospice and Cancer Research UK.

Hot to Trot


This weekend highlighted that trail running can be a very different experience. On Sunday at Gosfield School, after a technical start through Broaks Wood the 12 mile race evolved into a fast, flattish run with long stretches on tracks and lanes. Monday’s 9 mile race from Cattawade was a much more technical affair with hills a plenty and lots of woodland paths.

However, both races had to contend with extreme heat, which was eased by well placed drink stations. Both ran through lovely countryside. Both started and finished at excellent venues. Both were well organised by Essex and Suffolk trail running enthusiasts. Both attracted fields of about 75 runners which was impressive considering the welter of other attractions at the weekend.

Thanks very much to Phil and Lucy Davies at Gosfield and Clare Phillips and John Hood at Cattawade for all the time and effort put into these two events.

I have just promoted my road shoes to summer trail duties and in the first mile at Gosfield I was beginning to wonder if I had made the right decision. Broaks had been a mudbath a few weeks ago at the Halstead cross country and although a lot drier had had a midweek soaking which taught me that my footwear had no grip whatsoever. After leaving the wood and crossing the busy road the paths were even more slippery until I reached the concrete track.

FSD is the abbreviation that strikes the most dread into me on a trail race. For some distance, how I hate those words, although I did once write a route description in which one paragraph ended with F, the next one consisted solely of S, and the third began with D. I could see a runner probably five minutes ahead of me. I obviously never saw him again. Things twisted about for a bit until the golf course (where fellow trail runner Richard Taylor had his wedding reception last year) and then it was off along the quiet lanes in a big loop back to the golf course where somewhat confusingly the short course runners ran with us for a while.

So despite their inadequacies over the first mile, my “new” trail shoes really came into their own with very little mud to negotiate.

On to Cattawade where I foolishly decided to do the 9 miler. I struggle to run two days on the trot these days and 12 miles is a long run for me so I knew I was pushing it. I knew it even more on the climb of Sandy Lane where my knee was already playing up. Thankfully the course was twiddly enough for me to concentrate on the route rather than my knee. That is until Andy Mason came storming along and overtook me. There is nothing more soul destroying than a man with a cheery smile walking past you as you are “running”. I shuffled to the finish, congratulated Clare on finding some decent hills and enjoyed a couple of pints of excellent beer.

Another great trail running weekend.

Presentation Trail, Heybridge


83 runners took on three very wet and muddy courses around the Heybridge Basin area from the very accommodating Old Ship inn. Perhaps surprisingly there were more women than men competing and the longest course attracted the most runners.

The overnight rain stopped for the start of most people’s runs, but started up again well before most had finished.

Dave Game always like to have a theme each year for his events and this year is 10 miles or 10K.

In the 10 miler Phil Davies (MEC) continued his form of last weekend with a three minute win over Chris Hargraves (LBRR) with Julian Catmull (SS) recovering from a shocking “Eggstravaganza” weekend to claim third spot. Local resident Tracy Apps (UA) came 5th and was first lady by a comfortable distance from Melissa Dowell (CHAC) and Tracy Harrington (Tip).

In the 10K Gary Wright (SS) was a clear winner. Second place and first lady was Sue Aves (SS) who just pipped Keith Jackson (MEC), Andy Carter and Wendy Carter (both Hal). Maxine Stevens (SS) and Becky Crook (UA) shared third spot in the ladies race.

Richard Sirett (SS) and Mia & Anne Marie (both Tip) took the honours in the 3.7 mile short event.

There was the usual discussion afterwards and several people admitted to having gone wrong, but everyone agreed that it had been another great morning in the Essex countryside, even though we are now all running out of clean gear to run in. Let’s hope the rains ease up for the next scheduled race at Gosfield on May 6th, where the mini eggs will no doubt make another appearance.

Easter Eggstravaganza


Another Easter has come and gone with four great days of racing. Four central Essex clubs put on a race each over, what this year was, some wet and muddy countryside. 

Dave Game of Mid Essex Casuals masterminded Day One from Fordstreet and Andy Ritchings plotted the course for Day Two at Little Baddow. Easter Sunday was Grange Farm & Dunmow Runners turn at Felsted hosted by Howard Jardine and the final day was from Great Waltham organised by Kevin Wright of Springfield Striders.

At the Old Queens Head on Friday a healthy 158 of us turned up. Dave devised three courses of 12, 6.2 and 4 miles. Charlie Harpur of the host club ran his only race of the weekend and won the long race by an impressive 5 minutes. Nikki Brockbank (Springfield) won the ladies race by a stunning 15 minutes!

In the 6.2 miler Tom Porter and John Greeney, both of Halstead, held hands to win for the men and Shannon Mason of Springfield won the ladies race. The winners of the short race were Richard Sirett and for the ladies another joined group of Halstead runners Val Kerrison, Lorraine Garnham and Wendy Carter took first spot.

On to Little Baddow where I drove through flood water to get there. On arrival I was told there was a mile along the riverbank in the 11 miler so decided to do the 5 instead. Andy acted immediately, went down to the river, and created a diversion, which meant a bit too much road, but at least no one drowned. Well done Andy.

Jimmy Smith (Halstead), James Bosher (Grange Farm) and Mark Newton (Springfield) took the honours although they did finish from the wrong direction. Nikki Brockbank was again unchallenged.

In the 5 miler James Crisp of Witham headed the field with Sarah Colbert (Springfield) the top lady. Despite the early start 123 participated in the mud.

Sunday was surprise, surprise a dry day, but Howard sent us through a thigh deep ford to make up for it. The same three from Day 2 again ran together to win on a fast course. Guess who convincingly won the ladies event. Richard Sirett and Charlotte May (Halstead) won the 4.5 miler. A very good turnout of 130 for Easter Day.

Heavy overnight rain stopped for the actual race on Monday, but the course was a true mudbath. 181 entries set off from the Rose & Crown and all returned. James Bosher running on his own took the prize and clinched the overall. Nikki finished 4th overall in the race to confirm her overall victory with a fine weekend’s running.

In all, 318 different competitors took part from 27 clubs with great turnouts not only from the host teams but also from Tiptree and Halstead. All the clubs have made a profit even after contributing to the £500 prize fund.

See you at Heybridge Basin on Sunday.