Charlie's Trail


Our first visit to Mersea attracted a very reasonable turnout considering other attractions and distractions. It was again another welcoming venue and we have already been asked to return.

We had checked the courses out in a variety of conditions and you probably got the best of the underfoot and the worst of the wind. Nobody reported any red squirrel sightings (probably all been blown into the sea).

The day started well with the Wheatsheaf being ready for us and nice and warm with excellent facilities including hand sanitisers at the doors. The day then took a turn for the worse when Howard’s “new” laptop threw a wobbler and lost the race file for the 8.5 miler. Bring on the “Brick”. Never having been tainted by the internet and running on Windows 1875 the day was saved by the faithful Toshiba. It receives abuse at every event but carries on rewardless.

Unaware of our problems you came and went as usual in a seamless manner. The 8.5 miler saw Roy Read make a rare appearance to claim victory from Gary Freear of Halstead and Lyn Higgs of Mid Essex. Lyn has been nagging us for ages to put a race on in her neck of the woods and the six minute journey was obviously not too tiring. Running with Lyn was third man Gary Abbott of Mid Essex. Kirsty Williams of Springfield and Julia Binstead of Mid Essex were second and third respectively.

In the 5.8 miler Jon Byford competed in the Essex Relays at Colchester then popped over to Mersea to win in 43.24. Second equal were Joe and Will Ferguson who beat dad Simon by 20 seconds. Shannon Mason was first lady ahead of Sam Bearman of Mid Essex and the Tiptree duo of Jo Roblin and Tina Clarke.  

Our next race was due to be the Pop Up Trail but this has been cancelled by the venue. So hopefully see you at Burnham for Mid Essex Casuals’ Smugglers Trail and again hoping Easter goes ahead as planned.


Over 80 turned up to the Prince of Wales, Broxted on a surprisingly sunny day. Unfortunately the wind was still blowing a hoolie.

Howard had managed to find a completely different course to last year which was interesting and varied and included one of the muddiest paths through a wood that I have ever travelled along. Quite a few of you mentioned this. Thanks to the owners we were able to run through their lovely garden to reach the second church instead of quite a long detour.

Allen Smalls (CHAC) and long time running buddy Sean Ketteridge (TRA) cantered around the 7.5 miles in a speedy 54.07. Jon Byford (Springfield) trotted in five minutes back and was the only other runner under the hour. Lyn Higgs (MEC) proved she could run solo and won the ladies race by seven minutes ahead of Lorraine Baker (Tiptree) and Sarah Colbert (MEC).

The four miler attracted a small field and was won by Ian Foskew (MEC) and late entrant Sharon Hardwicke (Tiptree).

Beat About The Bush 


Well Howard and I enjoyed the return to the Roundbush and thanks to Dave and Anne for making us very welcome. It was a good turnout considering the weather and traffic conditions. We thought the roaring fire might tempt people to stay indoors, but well done to the 64 intrepid souls who ventured out into the depths of Purleigh.

As with our previous night trail the Hart to Hart, we were surprised to attract people doing their first ever trail race. If you enjoyed that I can assure you that it is a beautiful run to do in daylight with some good distance views over the Blackwater. We’ve seen a few photos of your runs and there certainly seemed a fascination with the graveyard and of course your drinking habits at the pub.

The winner in a very impressive time of 39.15 was Andrew Lager of Witham. In fact Witham featured very well with all four of their runners in the top eight. Second man was Gary Abbott of Mid Essex and Bill Smythe of Witham was third.

Equal second overall was Lyn Higgs of Mid Essex who has won more bottles of wine from us than any other competitor. Her time of 45.06 is again an excellent time over a muddy, slippery and hilly five mile course even without having to navigate and in the dark. Second lady was Lorraine Baker of Tiptree with Hilda O’Kelly of Springfield in third.

All of our newcomers returned and seemed to enjoy their excursion. People are always telling us how much they enjoy these runs and thanks for all the compliments. A bit cheeky but could we ask you to hit the recommend button on our Facebook page if you feel we deserve it. 

Next up is Charlie’s Trail at Broxted on March 1st.



We were invited to organise a race from the Cricketers last year and when Howard contacted them the then landlord had moved on, however the new management were still keen to see what it was all about and I think we have found another winner. A great pub with good beer and food, good parking and bang in the middle of some great running country we haven’t explored before.

We were up against the Great Bentley Half which attracted quite a few of our regular customers so were pleasantly surprised to attract over 70 runners to this unknown (to most of us) quiet corner of Essex.

James Bosher (GFDR) who, like many hadn’t been quick enough on the keyboard to get a Bentley place, came straight from his shift firefighting to race. I say came straight from work, but he actually came via the Cricketers at Clavering where after a few minutes he realised he might be at the wrong pub.

Winning the Cold Christmas 50Km last week seemed to have no effect on his legs as he stormed to victory by almost 10 minutes from Jon Byford (SS) and Peter de Koning, who cycled to and from the event from Saffron Walden. Gary Freear (Halstead) clocked the same time as Peter.

Also on the same time was the winning lady Lyn Higgs (MEC). I think the three of them might have joined forces possibly by the moving sheep pens that thwarted a few of you (ewe).

Second lady was Melissa Dowell (CHAC) and the MEC duo of Lucy Ferguson & Keely Jordan were third.

We thought the slippery decking test we set you to register would prepare you for the underfoot conditions. 

We again attracted a few newcomers and there was a fair bit of interest in the village about the goings on.

The pub liked you all and have invited us back in the summer some time when they will put on a BBQ. We will let you know as soon as the date is sorted. 

Next up is MEC’s night trail from Silver End next week and our own night trail is from The Roundbush, near Maldon the week after.


Possibly the worst diversion direction signed route of all time meant a few of you didn’t make it, but a huge thanks to those of you that did. When we arrived at the White Hart we were the first there: this is a first, there is always an early bird or flock waiting for us, so we were a bit worried we might just be having a quiet drink on our own in the pub for the evening. We really didn’t need to worry about spending the night drinking as the Bishop Nick Vision was an excellent pint.

Apart from a few people who didn’t TsharpR most of you got round without too much trouble, with only an extra caravan and the tall thin tree in the mist causing some confusion.

It is always an anxious wait for the first one to return, but we didn’t have to wait long as mostly smiling faces appeared at the back door.

Darren Coates (still Harlow) was first back and chuffed to bits to have completed a run without injury. He was leader in the clubhouse for a while until local resident Gerard Geurts (GFDR) flew in to take the lead. He in turn was knocked off his perch eventually by Adam Hunter (MEC).

Lyn Higgs (MEC) did better navigating the course than she did finding the pub and her driver John Carter (MEC) afterwards and took the bottle of wine for first lady. Melissa Dowell (CHAC) was second with Nichola Norman (Springfield) third.

Most people opted for the 6-ish including the three winners of the 4-ish who changed their collective mind before leaving the warmth of the pub. A good decision by the MEC trio of Rachel Abbott, Natalie Launder and Ian “one i, not one eye” Launder who claimed the two bottles of wine between them.

Bravo to the Harlow ladies who decided to do a night race for their first ever trail. They were still in the pub when we left. I think they may have discovered our secret.

Next up for us is Sticky Wicket on 2nd February followed by another night adventure from the Roundbush near Maldon on 19th February.


Even with double parkruns and the obvious morning after the night before excuses the Hair of the Dog attracted another large entry to the salubrious Good Easter sports pavilion. All profits raised will go to making it even more so. Yan always makes full use of the excellent highways and byways of the area and took us through the back gardens of the local landed gentry. 

54 took on the challenge of the 6.8 miler, 47 more did the 4.4 miler and a phalanx of cronies also made an appearance led round by Snig.

Melissa Dowell (CHAC) and Lyn Higgs (MEC) ran to victory in the long race with the race results showing Justine Ruggles (MEC) third. Justine however is Justin so Sarah Colbert (MEC) rightfully claimed third spot. Paul Broome (SS) had an excellent run winning by over four minutes from Matt Bainbridge (GFDR) and Miles Coulson (MEC).

Shannon Mason won the shorter race outright without dad’s help ahead of Donna Fisher (SS), Diane Knight (MEC) and Sue Aves (SS). Richard Rule (SS) who had double parkrunned and run between Billericay and Chelmsford to do it. Was the only man in the top six. Phil Jeffries (Halstead) and Dave Game (MEC) also made the podium.

A great way to start the new year.

Sean & Alan, enjoying a pint after their win !

Sean & Alan, enjoying a pint after their win !