Race Reports 2019

DAVE'S BIRTHDAY

  

A lovely sunny day greeted 108 entrants for Dave Game’s 70thbirthday trail. The Western Arms has been one of Dave’s mainstay venues over the years and even with the beginnings of another brand new estate nearby is still a good base for some interesting routes.


The ten miler took in paths around some new quarry workings and also some old favourites on the Essex Way. The temperature was ideal for running and also warm enough to sit in the pub garden afterwards.


Allen Smalls (Colchester H) trounced the rest of the field with a nine minute winning margin ahead of the Springfield trio of Gary Joslin, Darren Sutton and Andrew Wright. While Mid Essex Casuals Sue Clarke just held off teammate Lyn Higgs with Tracy Harrington of Tiptree third.


The five miler saw a slightly closer contest with Antony Goodall of Springfield beating Gav Allen (Halstead) and Myles Coulson from the host club. Sarah Colbert of Mid Essex had an even greater margin of victory than the men’s ten mile winner beating teammate Katy Rehal by over ten minutes. Elaine Tribley and Sharon Bannister came next for Springfield.


Another good day on what was the 200th trail organised by Dave. Thanks mate for all that effort over the years.


ESSEX WAY RELAY 

 

A record 81 teams took on the challenge of the Essex Way Relay this year which was run in pretty much ideal conditions.


The first leg from Epping to Ongar is always hard fought so as to gain that initial advantage. The marker post that used to catch people out before the water tower has been re-sited and is now much easier to see helping those that haven’t reccied the course beforehand. The Springfield man was first home and ran straight through the finish to his car and the hospital as he had fallen and chipped two teeth and cut his face. Colchester and Ilford were next. Leigh on Sea ladies were first with Benfleet and Southend keeping local rivalries alive. In the vets Harwich won the leg with a surprise challenge coming from Castle Point and Springfield were third.


The next leg is a race to get a bacon butty at Good Easter. A good crowd were assembled in the sunshine on the sportsfield awaiting the runners. After an early tussle Springfield came home first with Southend second and Ilford third again. Billericay ladies started their strong challenge with a win ahead of Colchester and Southend. Harwich vets claimed another win with Springfield and Leigh on Sea chasing hard.


The temperature was beginning to rise on the run to Little Leighs. Colchester won with Springfield A and B not far behind. Springfield ladies did well on this leg as well with the B team beating the A team. Southend were third. Leigh on Sea went top of the vets beating Southend and Springfield. After three legs Springfield had a small lead over Colchester with Southend not far back. Southend and Leigh on Sea were tied in the ladies with Springfield third. Harwich and Springfield were tied for second in the vets.


Harwich took leg four to Cressing with Springfield and Halstead behind. A quality ladies field saw Billericay again to the fore with Springfield and Southend not far behind. Springfield, Castle Point and Southend led home the vets. The overall stayed the same for the men, but Southend now led the ladies from Springfield and Leigh on Sea. Springfield vets were now on top and were to hold this through to the finish. Leigh on Sea and Castle Point were tied behind them.


I had a lovely pint of Landlord at Great Tey as I waited for the next leg to finish. Despite the customary detour Springfield were first home with Harwich and Billericay some way behind. Billericay ladies claimed their second straight win and now moved into second overall. Southend and Leigh on Sea kept up the pressure. Harwich vets claimed their third stage win ahead of Grange Farm and Mid Essex Casuals. After leg five Springfield men led Colchester and Benfleet and this was how it stayed to the finish.


The winner of the leg to West Bergholt reccied his leg by parking at the church at the finish and running to the start following the course in reverse. This gave Springfield another stage win, ahead of Colchester and Witham. Colchester ladies took the honours on this leg with Southend and Grange Farm behind. Grange Farm won the vets ahead of Castle Point and Springfield.


Leg seven, started on time by yours truly, is the longest stage of the day. Five minutes later the Billericay lady turned up, had not reccied the course, had no instructions and had intended to “follow”. Here ended the Billericay ladies challenge. 

Colchester were first to the war memorial in Dedham High Street followed by Springfield and Southend. Leigh on Sea won both the ladies and the vets with Harwich second in both. The ladies overall was now Southend, Leigh on Sea and Springfield and stayed this way to the finish.


Stage eight to Bradfield was Colchester’s third win of the day with Brentwood having their best position of the day in second and Benfleet third. Grange Farm ladies claimed their first win ahead of Harwich and Colchester. Springfield vets won only their second stage of the day to go top. The vets overall now stayed Springfield, Leigh on Sea, Harwich to the finish.


Over the whole day nine ladies had top ten placings but the best performance was from Springfield who finished second and ahead of their men’s team on the run to Ramsey. The Southend man won and Harwich had another win in the vets. Unfortunately, my bugbear, the shutting of gates raised its head again with horses on the loose. Next year marshals will be in place, but they shouldn’t have to be. Countryside Code people! Gate shutting is certainly drilled into people who do Essex Trail Events races. 


The final leg to Harwich is normally won by the same runner from Springfield but Leigh on Sea had a trick up their sleeve to claim the honour of bringing their team home. Grange Farm were third. Grange Farm ladies claimed another win from Billericay and Colchester. Leigh on Sea also won the vets stage.


Another great day superbly co-ordinated by Sally and Martin. Thanks to Howard for arranging race permits. Thanks to all organisers, supporters and runners. See you all again next year. Keep shutting those gates. 


LITTLE ELMS SCORCHER  

Within minutes of starting I thought to myself, “What am I doing?” It was so hot. Still there would be water at halfway. We ran alongside the golf course through the copse and crossed the road. It was very pleasant along the drive to Hoo Hall, but I was soon in the full glare of the sun.


I clipped at the first checkpoint then went up through the playing field passing the remnants of a picnic, then 10 metres later passed a litter bin. I crossed the road and turned right onto a grass track as per instructions. My path was blocked by a tractor. I waited for him to move. The farmer shouted down to me, “No footpath here, you’ll have to go round and through the estate.” Luckily I knew where I was from the Mid Essex cross country race here, so went round and then saw the plank bridge I was supposed to cross and was back on course. Unfortunately the water had been in the forbidden field. I cursed as I was gasping for a drink.


We then had a twisty route to follow through the woods which at least gave respite from the sun. Still really hot but not quite as full on. Then a trip around a few fields including an earth bridge which was obvious to me, but not to many of the competitors. Then a return to the woods where people were running in all directions apart from Richard Taylor who was standing still.


In the final mile I overtook an elderly couple who were picking up litter from the hedgerows, good on ‘em. The last bit in the estate reduced me to a walk as the heat bounced back off all the walls and paths. The sneaky finish caught out several people, but not me of course.


For the first time in my life I spent my voucher on an orange and lemonade (going soft in my old age) but made up for it with a four hour session at a beer festival in the afternoon.


A great series of races by Dave and I actually did them all. It chucked it down at the first one at Heybridge Basin, the sun shone bright at Panfield, it was monsoon season at Bocking, the humidity was stifling at Chigborough, another lovely day at Earls Colne and of course baking hot at Witham to finish. Lots of interesting courses with a mixture of old and new paths. Thanks Dave.


HUFFER PUFFER

  

A lovely evening and thankfully not as hot as last year. Sue and John Clarke have been organising this race for many years. It has always been popular and the numbers were up again this year. 


The course took us off to Great Leighs and back. There were tales of woe from some of the regular winners who struggled to follow the route leaving us with a new winner. Rob Mills of Springfield fresh from his victory in the top secret Tour of Little Baddow finished just ahead of Andy Lager (Witham) and McHardy trail winner Jon Byford (Springfield).


Lyn Higgs (MEC) added another victory to her win on Sunday at the Chelmer trail and was followed by the much improved Holly Thompson and Nichola Norman both of Springfield. Nikki Woodyard was well down the field.


129 is a great turnout on a Wednesday evening especially as the road from Howe Street was closed. The Compasses coped well with the numbers so everyone was fed and watered in good time.


Next up is Mid Essex Casuals final Quarter Marathon at Witham on Sunday.


CHELMER & McHARDY  


A fabulous turnout for the second running of the Admiral McHardy and the Chelmer trails saw 187 runners and walkers and this year absolutely no dogs enjoy some variable weather. The famous Essex Trail Events sunny weather deserted us for a change, but most people quite enjoyed the showers although it did make the river path very slippery for the McHardy runners.


Both events were won by convincing margins with Nikki Woodyard of Springfield winning the longer event by over four minutes and Stuart Collett of Little Baddow taking the shorter race by an amazing five minutes. If it hadn’t been for Stuart we would have had two lady winners as Lyn Higgs of Mid Essex was next home.


The Chelmer Trail was devised as an easy to follow trail for beginners and we were delighted to attract 48 first timers to the fun that is narrative trail running. We will hopefully see most of you again soon. We also had 24 newcomers in the McHardy Trail.


Due to the early start a few people finished before the bar was open so donated their voucher to charity. We will be passing on £28 to local runner Tim Woulfe whose daughter Connie suffers from spinal muscular atrophy. Thank you very much.


Our next race is the Dunmow Carnival Trail but there are plenty of trail before that. See the local events calendar.

  

WRITTLE WROUND


What a day. Up at 5.30am and everything was ready to take to Writtle. Only having a Fiesta we needed Howard to come along at 6.30am to take the rest. In the hour before Howard came everything was calm. I’d made a list of all we needed to take and it helped greatly. 


Half an hour to go and time to load our car up. Went to the table for my keys…..not there (still calm). Went back upstairs to check my trouser pockets…….not there (still calm). Came back downstairs looked in the kitchen, the bathroom, the dining room and the living room……….not there (not quite so calm, but I knew they were in the house somewhere). Checked my pockets……..still no. Back up stairs again…….no (starting to lose it a bit). If I can’t find my own keys how the hell am I going to keep track of 100 runners spread around the wilds of Essex? Helen now on the case. Rechecking downstairs…nothing. Then a shout from Helen….they were on the bed where I had put them when I’d emptied my pockets earlier. Huge sigh of relief.


Howard turned up bang on time and we loaded everything in. We got to Writtle without mishap but on arrival the hall was locked. I phoned the duty officer but no reply. We put up the car park signs and started to make plans to set up in the car park. Then the man with the keys turned up and we were in. Huge sigh of relief.


People were starting to arrive and registration was in full flow. I had set up “the brick” our grade II listed lap top with all the early starters, but at least ten people hadn’t told us that they were starting early so I had to update the file. It was now time for the early race briefing which went fine and then we had the short walk to the start in the drizzle that was to feature for much of the day.


After counting everyone at the start there was one more than there should have been, but luckily I knew who it was. 35 runners and (fast) walkers set off into the murk. Back at the hall, Howard was busy on registration, Helen and Katia were serving teas and coffees and the checkpoint marshals were turning up to collect supplies and instructions.


I repeated my briefing with the same weak jokes and then walked everyone up to the start and they were off. Back to the hall we checked who hadn’t registered so knew that we had exactly 100 people taking part and they had all got off safely. Huge sigh of relief.


I drove off to marshal the first A414 crossing. Howard went off to the first checkpoint at Blackmore. Katia was straight off to Morrisons to pick up the strawberries and French sticks and Helen was guarding all your belongings in the hall. 


I set up a table with drinks (which everyone ignored) and waited. Another sigh of relief when the first runners came into sight and were safely sent across the main road on their way. A steady stream of people came by and all seemed reasonably happy to see me. Then there was a gap. I waited another couple of minutes and thought I’d drive up the road to make sure there were no stragglers. I’d driven 50 metres when the final three came into sight.


They seemed in reasonable spirits and I could now move on to the next crossing. I parked on the verge next to the stile and set up my drinks table and waited. First along was Rebecca McVelia who started at 8.30 and wasn’t overtaken until after checkpoint 3. A steady trickle became busier and the road got muddier and muddier as the cross field paths were redistributed by runners’ shoes. We had one minor incident with an impatient driver, but all was well as the marshal was obeyed by everyone. Still nobody had a drink.

My final three hadn’t come through and after waiting half an hour I drove round to look across the fields to see if I could see them coming. No runners but a fallow deer ran away just 10 metres from me.


I returned to base. Howard made contact with the tail enders and even though they’d missed the first checkpoint they were still carrying on. We decided as we didn’t want mud throughout the hall we’d set up outside. In moving “the brick” it threw a wobbly and we lost the updated file. I was not a happy bunny, but after a few moments of despair I realised that unlike most of our races when people start at various times you had all started at either 8.30 or 9.30 so I could still take finish times and do a simple calculation. Huge sigh of relief.


Meanwhile Katia and Helen had produced 100 bowls of strawberries and the same amount of ploughman’s lunches and were taking a short breather before the onslaught to come. 


Howard and I were waiting and discussing whether this was worth all the hassle. Months of checking paths. Weeks of final preparations and days of clearing the shelves at all the local supermarkets for the real headache – the catering. I said I didn’t fancy all this effort again to put on a race when we can organise our usual events at the drop of a hat and let the pub worry about feeding people.


After what had seemed an age Alan Darby of Ely Runners arrived to claim victory and then we had a steady stream of people who all seemed, despite 31 miles of sticky conditions, to be in a very happy mood and no doubt pleased to reach base again. The sun even came out. We had a few drop outs, but 93% finished which is probably quite high for an ultra.


The last runners came in and after feeding them we threw everything into our cars and went straight up the Wheatsheaf where we enjoyed a couple of pints of Maldon Gold as we burnt out the retinas of all the locals with our bright green shirts. Then on for a curry and home just before 9pm.


Well what have we learnt. We needed more Coke at the checkpoints and probably less food. We needed more help for the caterers. We have some great mates who helped marshal at the checkpoints. And finally, ultra runners are a very nice bunch of people. Why wouldn’t we do it all again? 


See you next year.


TOUR  OF  TERLING


Day one of the Tour of Terling dawned dull, but certainly by the time I finished the sun had made an appearance and heated things up a bit.


We were sent on some new tracks in order to reach new territory north of the Witham – Notley road. Once back south of the road it was Essex Way all the way back to the village hall.


Nikki Woodyard (Springfield) was outright winner ahead of Craig Dawson (MEC) and Jon Byford (Springfield). In the shorter race (though not as short as Dave had let on) some regulars who don’t normally feature on the podium had their moment in the limelight. Val White (MEC) claimed victory ahead of Brian Harding (Brentwood) and Heather Jackson (MEC).


The Tour continues tonight and Wednesday.


GOOD EASTER FETE TRAIL


It may have been dull, but it was still very warm for the second running of the Good Easter fete trail. Yan attracted a good field for a Saturday lunchtime and provided some interesting routes that interspersed long stretches of the Essex Way with more complicated local paths, which certainly tripped up a few entrants.


Winner of the longer run was Darren Coates of Harlow RC ahead of new recruit to trail running Adam Hunter (TRA) and regular ladies winner Lyn Higgs (MEC). 


The four miler attracted quite a few villagers, but regular trail runners Vicky Knight (Tiptree) and Dave Game (MEC) showed them all a clean pair of heels.


It was quite a busy fete with drum majorettes and a dog show and most of us stayed a while to enjoy the bar, BBQ and tea room. All proceeds will be going towards renovating the Sports Pavilion.


STAG ZIGGER ZIG ZAG  


87 runners and walkers took in the attractive environs of Little Easton which coincidentally was the same number that attended The Stag last year. Although cloudy it was a very warm and humid evening so good use was made of the beer garden. 


We were treated to two very close races. Lyn Higgs running without the aid or hindrance of Gary Abbott clocked 49.18 to win yet another bottle of wine. Sarah Colbert ran her close though as she finished just 15 seconds slower.


It was even closer in the men’s race. Declan Evans of Grange Farm had set a good target of 42.57 to lead in the club house (pub). Teammate Dan Reynolds then posted an impressive 40.08. Last off was our regular trail winner Antony Goodall. Whether he got held up at the pool table in the finishing stretch we don’t know, but he stopped the clock at 40.09 to just fail to win the wine. 


A few people didn’t feel six miles was enough so added on bits, but most people seemed to get around OK. Thanks to everyone for turning up on a Wednesday evening especially those that travelled considerable distances.


WICKHAM WANDERINGS


Sarah Colbert celebrated her 50th birthday with an excellent event at Wickham St Paul, near Sudbury.


The weather was just right, the venue was very pleasant and the courses were very enjoyable on very good paths. And to top it all off there was a magnificent spread at the end including booze.


The 10K saw 69 entrants with Gavin Long of Saffron Striders leading the way. After car parking duties the ladies event was won by Lucy Westcott of Springfield Striders.


There were 39 runners in the 20K which was won by James Smith of Halstead and Lyn Higgs of MEC.


There were several unusual features such as the sculpture tree and the invisible Roman villa, but the highlight of the course which seemed to intrigue and delight many people was the brick works.


We hope you enjoyed your birthday Sarah and thanks to you and your helpers for a great day.


MIDSUMMER MADNESS


Well the weather kept smiling on us for the Midsummer Madness Series.


We started on a glorious evening at The Farmhouse Inn and the course certainly showed off the lovely area around Thaxted. Last year we had a few mishaps, but everyone negotiated the course with no problems this time. Howard and I enjoyed several excellent pints of Summer. Serial winners Antony Goodall and Lyn Higgs took the honours.


Onto Saturday. Phew what a scorcher. I found it unbearably hot walking to the cricket pavilion for a beer (Maldon Gold) so how 36 of you managed to cover seven miles in that heat I don’t know. Some people found the course tough with overgrown field edges and rough underfoot conditions, but I don’t think anyone was really racing in those conditions. The Willingale Fayre provided some excellent refreshments. I can vouch for the burgers and the beer and I gather the cakes were good. Nichola Norman won for the ladies and we had a new winner as Gary Joslin was fastest.


It was another glorious evening at Chipping Ongar for the last in the series and some more good beer Pargetter and Meerkat something or other. Antony and Lyn who both had other race commitments on Saturday won yet again.


Twelve of you ran all three and there were quite a few newcomers who seemed to enjoy themselves. 


CHIGBOROUGH QUARTER MARATHON 


Wednesday evening, another Mid Essex Casuals quarter marathon and yes it looked like rain.

In fact as I started it did rain quite hard forcing me to put on my waterproof. Within minutes it had stopped, but that upped the humidity. Also due to recent rain I chose to wear studded shoes which again weren’t necessary.

The first three miles was an enjoyable 

twisty route through the nature reserve negotiating some slippery and dilapidated footbridges. The second half was more open country, then sea wall, then through the fishing lakes back to the finish. I preferred the first half. Helen enjoyed the second.

Having run seven miles the previous night at a club fartlek session I was struggling before I got to the sea wall. My heart sank when Bill Smythe, who had overtaken me earlier, came running towards me on the sea wall meaning I had a long way to go to get back to where I already was.

I shuffled home to finish in 1:24:38. My day perked up however when the results were published later, and I found that I had thrashed the Pettifer/Holder triumvirate and Peter Bates. Their time was 1:24:39.

At the sharp end Allen Smalls ran an impressive 48:03 and only 36 seconds behind and more impressively was first lady Nikki Woodyard. In the short race Ian Foskew was first home. Youngsters Gabby Bilby and Taylor Gooding battled it out for first lady.

Thanks to Dave Game for a technical course (good job the caravans were static). Next trail is the Farmhouse Frolic at Monk Street.

RIDLEY ROUND

259 runners, walkers and crawlers completed the Ridley Round in surprisingly good conditions, raising over £1500, for Essex and Herts Air Ambulance, in the process.

The four fastest runners all gained maximum bonus minutes so converted their time of 1:54:10 to 14:10. It was a combined effort from James Smith (Halstead), Andrew Low (Benfleet), James Bosher (Grange Farm & Dunmow) and Gavin Allen (Halstead).

Next in was leading lady Nikki Woodyard in an adjusted time of 49:39. 

After using the same route for a couple of years the change seemed to be quite popular. There are quite a few old Ridley pubs in the area so expect the route to change again in the future. The forecast bull was on holiday so no problems there and the rain stayed away apart from for the fancy dress group.

We were still there at 8pm and even then not everyone had finished. It was a very enjoyable day marred only by Clare Broome having a terrible fall early on resulting in her breaking her hip. We wish her a speedy recovery and hope that all your heads have recovered as well.

FUN AT THE FETE

The sun was shining, it was a glorious day, it must have been another ETE trail race. We have been so lucky with the weather. As we enter our second year we have still to get the gazebo wet. Cue monsoon at the Ridley Round.

The Chignal fete was our second ever race. The numbers were 10% up at the Galleywood Gallop so we were looking forward to attracting an extra 4.3 people to this traditional village fete. Luckily everyone who came was a whole person and we had a superb 50% increase in numbers.

We sat in the shade in our own very comfortable microclimate, but most of the runners were in agreement. “It was HOT”

Last year’s course had been a fight against the nettles, but apart from a few small patches we avoided them this time. There was also a fair bit of shaded bridleway to help with the heat. There were a few varying thoughts on where the route went. A few went wrong right at the start. A few didn’t fancy crossing the oil seed rape field and two lovely ladies spent a pleasant couple of hours just on paragraph one. Everyone came back though and seemed happy.

Antony Goodall and Jimmy Smith stormed round the 5.6 mile course, but will have to get a couple of straws to share the bottle of merlot. Lyn Higgs held off stiff competition from Vicky Knight to win her wine.   

The fete made a good profit, you lot must be tombola mad and sold out of burgers (which were enormous) and cream teas. One runner returned to find his daughter had purchased a space hopper. I think he made her hop behind the car on the way home as space there was not in the car.

Thanks to all the regulars and welcome to all the newbies, of which there were quite a few. We’ll be here again next year. See you at the Ridley Round (bring your umbrella).

HUGE TURNOUT AT GALLOP 

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.

CASTLE TRAIL ROUNDS OFF OUR FIRST YEAR 

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.

BOCKING AQUATHON 

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. 

EGGSTRAVAGANZA SERIES

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.

PRESENTATION TRAIL 

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.

THAXTED MARATHON   

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. 

HORSING ABOUT AT TOPPESFIELD

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.  

BRILLIANT BROXTED

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.

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