Pitch Black in Purleigh Results and Report
Our final race of the year started with a bang, quite literally.
Due to communication difficulties we weren’t even sure if we could get into the pub and had a contingency plan to set up in the car park. However on arrival the landlord was there and we could go ahead as planned. Carrying the beloved brick (laptop) to the pub I slipped on a plaque which marks the start of the Ongar Millennium Walk. I crashed to the ground and smashed the brick into the pavement. More worried about the brick than the fact mine must be the shortest ever attempt at the Millennium Walk, I was helped up by Howard and we went into the pub. Plugged it in and the brick sparked into life: no damage done. Now checked myself and had quite a graze considering my jeans were still intact. But otherwise no harm done.
When I ran the route in early December it was dry, when I went back to finalise it two weeks later it was wet in places. On Friday it was a complete mud bath which luckily most of you seemed to enjoy. Amazingly in spite of people coming back covered in mud (some head to toe) the floor of the pub remained surprisingly clean. It was a new area for us despite being the seventh run from this venue and one we will certainly revisit in the future.
Those of you on the 5 miler who passed the boat – WRONG. Those of you on the 11 miler that crossed the footbridge just after the boat twice – WRONG.
Before pre entry runners sometimes spent up to half an hour in the queue to register; now it seems you can catch up on the social side of the event in the queue for the bar. I did feel a bit sorry for the regular customer who joined the queue to get his pint.
Despite Covid we still managed to put on 18 events in the year as well as our club trails. Thanks for supporting us and a happy and healthy New Year to you all.
A CHRISTMAS TRAIL
There’s nothing better than sloshing about in the woods on a dull and dank December day and Mid Essex Casuals’ latest trail gave us all the opportunity to experience it to the full.
Christmas elves Katy Rehal and Sharon Skidmore organised their annual charity Christmas Trail from the Generals Arms on Little Baddow ridge. I was there early and registered as number 1 and set off down the lane into Blakes Wood. Straight through the mud we have been avoiding on our regular Saturday morning runs and down through the wood to Graces Lane.
Next was across the Serengeti and up to the main road and into Danbury Park. Two miles in and still no one had passed me. Quite complicated instructions through the park and after admiring the oak tree and before the elf’s house Snig and Julian came by. Across the road and up the steps on an enclosed path, Snig and Julian came by again.
Then the climb to the church and I turned left through the churchyard (the one path on the course I had never been on before) and almost caught Snig and Julian again. Then back across the main road and downhill into the woods. Then over the ridge into Woodham Walter Common and the instructions began to make less sense. I knew where I was, but wanted to follow the actual route. With the help of some tape I was soon back on the correct course.
Up onto the road and I passed Yan and Shannon who were on the short route. I careered down the big hill with the extensive view (but not today) and along the road to squeeze through the gap at the stile. If I can’t get through there I need to eat a little less. Into the wood and Adam, Chris and Myles shot by.
As I climbed up to Heather Hills ten 4x4 off road vehicles were coming towards me. Luckily they were radio controlled scale models accompanied by their young owners although I expect they really were the playthings of the dads who followed on behind.
I passed the bench(s) at the top and then the short road section back to the pub.
A very enjoyable slosh around an area I know very well and I suspect quite a few of the runners discovered even more of it.
SEARCH FOR SANTA
A good field of almost 70 runners and walkers set off on a search for Santa from the Compasses at Littley Green. This Grange Farm organised race has been going for many years and Chris & Pru Hayhow returned from Derbyshire to reform the original team with Howard.
Myself and Helen set off first as we were walking and despite the occasional appearance of the moon it was a very dark night. After a short road section we found the second of the Santas (the first was at registration) and turned over the footbridge onto what was a pretty firm path. However the further we walked the slippier and wetter it got before the haven of the concrete track which was pretty muddy as well to start with.
Dave Game was first to overtake us as we went downhill to the road, then Jackie Stretton flew by festooned in lights. Ian and Poppy Gowers were next and said that they would see us in the first pub (they had gone by the time we got there). There was then quite a gap before Snig and Julian passed us just before the pub. They missed an instruction so we beat them to the bar.
It was a good job we weren’t racing as they had to change the barrel. There were quite a few people now arriving at the pub. We sank our beer and mince pie and set off back into the mild evening air. Next to pass were two Pitsea elves. We passed the sneaky Santa in the woods as Lynn Higgs went by.
The course then took us over the only stile on route to find another Santa and clue. There were several people here including Mel and Wendy, but after returning back over the stile we walked the next half mile of road alone. Turning left across a field we could see lights behind us and as we passed the lake and crossed the footbridge to cross the ploughed field at least ten runners went by.
We were rewarded with sweets at the end of the field. We turned right on a lane then straight ahead on a RHFE which was where the winners Antony Goodall and Declan Evans overtook us.
Back to the now busy pub and a welcome pint and a meal. It was great that almost everyone greeted us as they went by. Another very enjoyable event.
1.5 BRIDGES PER SLEEP
A great run (14 Sleeps til Christmas) from the Museum of Power this morning. The Blackwater/Chelmer delta is an interesting area for a trail run with paths winding back and forward over the rivers and streams. In fact Dave informed me that there were 21 bridges crossed if you went the right way. I crossed 21 but I believe some may have crossed more and others fewer.
I arrived early and there were a few in the car park (there would usually be more but I think people were doing park run first). Dave had sneakily set himself up under a gazebo across the river from the car park. After a stutter about how much wire was in the metal fence I was on my way. I went through the first unnecessary kissing gate, but ignored the next even more unnecessary one before yet another and onto the river bank.
I crossed the river into the little wood near Beeleigh Falls, then out along the golf course and back over the river. I passed the footpath signs where a lot of people went wrong. Then along the old railway track. As I neared the end Myles Coulson overtook me. After passing Tesco and crossing the Chelmer at Fullbridge I turned along the opposite bank and could see quite a few runners behind so expected to see them come past quite soon.
However it wasn’t until the railway platform some three miles later that Adam Hunter went by. I met Neil Bradley running towards me, at least half a mile off course. He had gone wrong at the aforementioned footpath signs. It was great seeing people at different stages throughout the route and the confused look on their faces when I would turn the opposite way to them.
A very enjoyable run in somewhat sloppy conditions. Thanks again Dave and Mid Essex Casuals.
BLINDED BY THE LIGHT
Justin Ruggles of Mid Essex Casuals hosted his fourth trail on a glorious sunny day. The Fox and Hounds again proved a friendly venue.
I arrived early and claimed one of the few spots in the very small car park. I set off directly facing the sun for four miles. I might just as well have been running in the dark as I had to look at my feet as the sun was so bright.
The first mile was more or less road all the way. FSD aka F****** Soul Destroying is never a trail runner’s favourite abbreviation so it was good to get it out of the way. A right turn across a ploughed field meant I could see Richard Carvey and Joshua Davis ahead. After crossing the road and around the big garden it was back into the full sun.
I think I counted about 50 field corners and footbridges before I dropped into the valley and along the road to the church. Then over several stiles onto the old railway line. All this time Richard and Joshua were tantalisingly about 100 metres ahead. I carried on running (I call it running) up the long drag by the vineyards and got within 20 metres of them.
The course now became pancake flat and the sun was at my back and I found the reason for my fast (for me) start was that there was now a strong wind in my face. The 100 metre gap reformed until the last mile when they shot off into the distance.
Emerging at the road with still a quarter of a mile to go I passed Sarah and David who had found the nearest available parking space. Sub 90 minutes for me, well chuffed.
Another good trail from Justin with good instructions and a nice pint at the end.
A new venue for us, but a regular haunt in the past so lots of familiar paths and tracks. It was also a nice dry night with some help from the moon.
First home was Roger Gooding who set the pace with a 39.51 clocking. Roger has held races from the Swan in the past so his local knowledge proved useful. His time however was bettered by Jackie Stretton (37.07) and by the winner Declan Evans who sprinted around the five mile course in 34.41. Ben Leeds was just behind Roger to claim third spot. Millie Presland and Lynn Higgs were second and third respectively.
Most people seemed to get around without too much trouble and those that didn’t got a free copy of the appropriately named “Lost and Found” a book about the Flitch Way.
We will be continuing with the food experiment at The Pitch Black in Purleigh in January and the Night “mare” Trail in February. It certainly made for a nice sociable evening in the bar afterwards
WILD, WET and WINDY
Thanks to all the committed people who braved the shocking weather on Sunday. The pub was amazed at the turnout, but we know what you are made of. Howard and I however were quite stunned by Hilda and Fiona turning up as pumpkins to match Dave Game’s running outfit.
Luckily I left it until Friday to check the route as the farmer was in the process of ploughing up some paths we were going to use. If I had done it earlier in the week you wouldn’t have had a clue where to go. I sort of know how you all felt yesterday as I was getting a good soaking on Friday, although not as prolonged and with slightly weaker winds.
We have done several runs from the Green Man now and personally this is my favourite so far. Not many ploughed fields, lots of good paths, plenty to see and most importantly for some no horses. Typically as soon as the majority of you had returned the sun came out and would have shown off the course in its true colours.
Thanks to the pub for accepting clumps of wet paper as vouchers and also for looking after supporters by lighting the fire.
Great wins for Allen Smalls and Lynn Higgs in the 10 miler and also for Simon Morgan and Holly Stile in the 11km.
We will be back and possibly at a more clement time of year.
SMALL FIELD TACKLE PLOUGHED FIELDS
Grange Farm and Dunmow Runners held their annual trail from the Black Lion at High Roding on a lovely sunny morning.
A surprisingly small field of 40 enjoyed an eight mile circuit of the area. The trail was named Safari as it passed a collection of model wild animals including tigers and elephants. Sadly due to the change in date the animals had gone into hibernation.
There was some discussion at the start about choice of footwear and I went for road shoes which by and large was the right decision. There were a few easily passable puddles and apart from a soggy section on the long climb up the ploughed field back to High Roding all was dry.
It is not a particularly hilly area and there are some excellent wide paths making for a fast course if you ignore the ploughed fields. I counted seven of them.
Declan Evans of the host club claimed his second victory in four days in an excellent time of 53.42, nine minutes clear of Roger Gooding (Springfield) and ten ahead of Steve Read (GFDR). Lynn Higgs of Mid Essex Casuals won in 1.08.23 to beat Tina Southgate (Colchester Harriers) and Hilda O’Kelly (Springfield).
BEFORE THE FLOOD
This is a rather strange trail race report as I spent most of the evening behind the bar.
The Kings Citra Hop was very popular as was diet coke. We are often told by the landlords of the pubs we go to what a lovely bunch of people you all are and having now done a shift behind the bar I must agree. You were all patient and courteous and no fights broke out. Most people paid by card, some with their phones, a couple with their watches and even a few diehards proffered cash.
It was nice to see people staying and being sociable after the race and hopefully this will continue with our series of night trails over the winter months.
Oh the race….after setting you all off there was a ten minute lull and then slowly but surely you all returned. Most of you found the final token without too much bother. I think you all finished before the rain which was a bonus.
The winner was Declan Evans of Grange Farm and only a minute behind in second spot was Jackie Stretton of Springfield. To those that think local knowledge is any use you will be pleased to know that the final finishers were all Springfield residents. Apologies to anyone who rummaged through the bag of rubbish thinking it was the hidden token bag.
After clearing up I had to venture out to pick up the token bags. I don’t think the word wet quite describes it. Maybe next year we will do a kayak version.
Thanks to Helen in the kitchen and hopefully see you again soon.
I SEE NO SHIPS, BUT PLENTY OF 30mph SIGNS
The petrol shortage may have kept a few away but otherwise it was business as usual with a welcome return to the Chequers at Felsted. It is an area of many footpaths and some of you tried a few extra for good measure, (maybe looking for ships). It is also an area of many 30mph signs.
Despite being overcast it was a muggy day and we hope you enjoyed the sparkling water at the drink station. The majority of the runners opted for the 8 miler with Jackie Stretton again showing a clean pair of heels to the rest of the field. A slight detour robbed her of a sub one hour time.
It was very close for second with Rob Mills, John Sweeney, Myles Coulson and Adam Hunter all running similar times. Second lady was Hilda O’Kelly with Nicole Blom in third spot.
We had a new face and winner in the shorter run with Samuel McHale making light work of the five miles ahead of Simon Morgan and Gary Wright. We also had a new winner in the ladies race with Kim Farren just pipping Mel Sirett and Virginia Willis.
Wildly Diddly fiddly puddly Ridley diddly Round pub 5
Thanks to Simon Baker for the new name for our race : Wildly Diddly fiddly puddly Ridley diddly Round pub 5
I think it sums it up !!
The day started very well after setting up our Essex Trail Events gazebo... The first start times were from 10am so we had plenty of time for a full 'Old Bob' English breakfast. We relaxed as the early starters turned up early, so we relaxed a bit more.
10am came and the first 15 were off like a rocket, well kind of ! Then every 5 minutes for the next hour and a half.
With everyone gone we settled in to our first pint and then (on the second pint) the first one back.... Myles Coulson. He looked fresh so did he have a few bonus refreshments ? It appears he did as there were faster times from Tom and David Morris but they didn't get the bonuses from visiting the pubs so Myles was our male winner.
The fastest round the route for the ladies were from GFDR, but they needed more pub visits to take victory so the winner for the Ridley Round for the Ladies went to Julia Binstead, well done Julia !
We took a note of favourite pubs and favourite beers and it appears that Heresy was good at the Green Man, Lushingtons was a favourite at the Leather Bottle, Landlord at the Walnut Tree and no particular beer mentioned at The Windmill but just good beer and friendly staff. It's so good that the pubs are supportive of our event.
We raised a tad under £1300 for Cancer Research UK so thanks to everyone that participated.
Guy Hammett’s first attempt as a trail race organiser and very successful it was too. The Wheatsheaf at Writtle has always been a favourite watering hole of mine, but its total lack of car parking and the fact that this is very much Hobble territory has precluded me from ever organising a run from it.
I parked in the College car park as per instructions and was wondering if the race was still on as there was only one other car there. I would have known it was Lorna’s if I had looked at the number plate. I had been at a BBQ the night before and although I hadn’t drunk much (for me) I’d obviously eaten too much as I felt quite queasy as I walked up to the pub.
There were plenty of people there and I registered and was instantly off and running. I was quite uncomfortable but I still managed to catch people and as the blood left my digestive system for more important parts began to feel better.
The first mile was definitely Writtle, the second a bit wheaty and the rest was the waddle. I continued to pass earlier starters and said hello to the cheerful “homeless” guy who was sat in a chair next to his tent enjoying the spectacle.
Up to Widford church and across the main road I had a few more in my sights. Over the Bridge of Size and past the golf course I caught Malcolm and Jim (not sure if he is “nasty” or “nice Jim) and then I started to struggle up the track back to the main road and Hylands. I didn’t find the faint path to the dead trees and it was really hard going in the long grass. On reaching the cinder track I passed a parade of dachshunds going in the opposite direction.
Almost at the end of the cinder track just as I was about to enter the wood a cinder got into my shoe. I ran for several minutes trying to dislodge it with lots of flicking actions and cursing. Finally I gave in, stopped, took off the shoe, expelled the cinder, retied my shoelace and then set off at twice the pace I had been since entering the woods. I caught up Malcolm and Jim on the long downhill to Hylands entrance and we overtook more runners.
Back on the road I read ahead and knew exactly the way back so upped the pace. I could hear Malcolm and Jim behind me so kept going all the way to the finish. For the first time in many years I hadn’t been overtaken by anyone. Well pleased to finish 27th.
I then bought a pint, had a sip and all the blood rushed back to my digestive system and I felt queasy again. Must have been bad as I left my pint hardly touched on the table. When I got to my car another two cars were in the car park.
Thanks Guy and Mid Essex Casuals for another good day out.
McHILLY AND CHELMER TRAILS
The Admiral McHilly and Chelmer Trail took place on a surprisingly dry morning after quite a storm on Saturday night. We were going to use our gazebo but the clouds looked quite menacing so we set up inside the clubhouse. After waiting for the last runner we were glad we had as the British monsoon season returned around lunch time.
The ladies far outnumbered the men in the McHilly and two featured in the top four overall. We thought that despite a fast start and finish the hilly middle section would mean a winning time of over two hours. Wrong. James Bosher came careering in with a time of 1.44.36. At least he admitted it was tough. On another day experienced trail veteran Allen Smalls would have won this easily but was over 5 minutes behind in a still exceptional time of 1.49.56.
The only other runner to beat two hours was Nikki Woodyard in a superb 1.55.12 on her return to the trails after some recent road marathon exploits. Fourth overall was Jackie Stretton in 2.02.54. Not bad for someone who is supposed to be taking it easy after the Lakeland 100, entered the short race by mistake and ended with a swollen ankle. These times should not diminish the excellent runs from Jon Byford (2.11.21) and Nicola Frisby (2.29.29) who claimed the third spots.
The much flatter and shorter Chelmer Trail was won by John Sweeney ahead of Richard Taylor and David Hurley. Youngster Poppy Gowers won her first trail to pip Brigid Wallen and Sarah Hammond.
You lot may have thought 15 hilly miles was tough but try a two hour session serving behind the bar next time you want a work out. We are often told by the pub landlords what a nice bunch of people you are, being both courteous and patient and I must agree. It was like old times with loads of socialising outside and tales of where you went wrong, which thankfully with one major exception most of you didn’t.
We also had a lot of compliments about the courses. Makes it all worthwhile. See you next time.
TOUR OF TERLING DAY 2
After a dull day a beautiful evening greeted the runners for Day 2 of the Tour of Terling. When I arrived the queue had already formed and runners had started on their quest to find 5 clippers on a 5 mile course. I lined up behind race leader Gary Chandler in his self-appointed yellow jersey and his go faster shoes. Not sure I would spend over £200 on a pair of shoes just to beat us load of old crocks.
After trading insults with all and sundry, I set off reasonably quickly (all things are relative) but as I turned onto the Essex Way with the slope and wind against me regretted having eaten my tea just an hour earlier. In my competitive days (very ancient history) I would never have dreamt of eating before a race. The low flying helicopter took my mind off things for a bit and then I came to the first mention of Clipper 1. A motley crew of waifs and strays were searching for it and after about 30 seconds I spotted it and we were off.
After the initial clipper all the others were easier to spot and I hardly wasted anytime which was a shame as I like a rest every now and then. A young Mid Essex Casual raced by and didn’t reply to my “Good evening” so I had no feelings of regret when I didn’t call him back a while later as he sped the wrong way into the distance.
The course doubled back for a second time so I could exchange greetings and “encourage” the later starters. A rare error in the instructions about which field edge you should be on shouldn’t have caused too many problems as there was really no other option. Then a dash down the track to the finish, which just as it came in sight the instructions sent us down the river valley on the right to add an extra third of a mile and another clipper.
Another pleasing run for me and my tea remained in my stomach….result.
Gary won again and can wear yellow on Day 3 and his canoe shaped shoes should come in handy at the ford. Jon Byford and Roger Gooding had a very close race for second. Lynn Higgs took a clear lead in the ladies race with Sarah Colbert in second. Sisters Holly Stile and Shannon Mason came home third just ahead of dad Yan on his first run after his recent op.
Thanks again to Dave Game. The tour continues tonight and tomorrow.
TERLING DAY 1
A lovely day for the start of the Tour of Terling, though there was the odd spot of drizzle and it became very humid. As usual for a Dave Game race the crowds gathered and talked amongst themselves while waiting for the man himself to turn up. When he arrives everyone looks to Mel to see where the front of the queue will be.
Dave has reverted to pre Covid days and now takes entry on the day and we even saw the return of the key box. (Essex Trail Events will continue with the new ways and stay with on line entry). The queue didn’t take too long and I was off up the track, and just as I did at the Huffer Puffer on Wednesday I started too fast. After an uncomfortable three miles I eased up a bit.
I thought the instructions were fine (as usual thanks Dave) but some were struggling as I met people coming from different directions and even running back towards me. Brigid Wallen was just ahead and ducked under a ladder and turned right on a LHFE. I ran the correct way turning right on EP to find Brigid in front of me still looking for the ladder she had just ducked under.
Quite a few runners passed by before the clipper point but not many more as we made our way along the Essex Way back to Terling. I caught Brigid again and she showed me her instructions which she had managed to obliterate the bottom paragraph. Good job it wasn’t raining, she would have had a papier-mâché ball.
Another pleasing run for me on an attractive course and I wonder if they are ever going to harvest these fields.
The winner was Gary Chandler who just beat the hour for 8 miles. Andy Clarke was next ahead of MEC duo Myles Coulson and Ben Leeds. Lynn Higgs has a huge lead over Lorraine Baker and Brigid Wallen. Same place tomorrow for Day 2.
The Huffer Puffer, organised by John & Sue Clarke, has been a favourite on the trail calendar since 2004 and was run last year as “virtual”, so it was great to be back in the real world this time. It is a great pub (you probably know that it is Essex Trail Events’ HQ) and a great area to run in. The weather was kind after recent horrors, if a little warm across the last few fields.
I started at my appointed time of 6.10 and was surprised to be running quite well on dry ground. I called back a Mid Essex Casual after the second kissing gate and soon caught Helen who was walking the course. The road and concrete section certainly made for a fast trail time and I nearly matched my post op 5k PB (PB is what us older runners have always called PR and don’t get me started on FKT) as I careered into Langleys.
The hill by the pet cemetery slowed me down and I never really recovered from my fast start. I lumbered past the Green Man, then up the slope to thankfully have to wait at the main road. With the breeze behind the heat began to get to me across the last few fields, but the incentive of a nice cool pint got me home and in a surprisingly good for me 32nd place.
The winner was Declan Evans, who knows the area well, in a speedy 44.04 over two minutes ahead of Andy Clarke who was a further minute up on Will Ferguson. Lynn Higgs won yet again beating a couple of new names Emily Worboys and Melanie Carrington.
The wait for food was bearable giving time for a pre meal pint and most people stayed afterwards to socialise, just like we used to do back in the heady days of 2019.
Thanks again to John and Sue and the staff at the Compasses. We are back here on September 11th for the Ridley Round – See you there.
WET & WINDY CANTER
August in the beer garden at the Horse & Groom, Cornish Hall End sounded like a very pleasant way to spend a morning organising a trail run. On Thursday the ground was rock hard and the sun was shining. Little did we know that we were organising the first cross country of the season. Heavy rain on Saturday and also for the hour before the start changed the course into a slippery, muddy mess.
Entries were down and a further 19 didn’t turn up presumably due to the weather. It was so wet and windy we didn’t even both with our gazebo, but used the shelters outside the pub. Out of the rain we may have been, but Howard and I were chilled to the bone by the finish. However it was good running weather and for the most part the race stayed dry.
Antony Goodall pushed hard to win in a fine time of 1.03.26 more than 3 minutes ahead of trail specialist Allen Smalls and almost 10 minutes ahead of the third placed Jon Byford. Rebecca White won the ladies despite a small detour, with Lynn Higgs second and Sarah Colbert in third.
For the second week running we were at a new pub in a new area and again the course and venue were well received by the runners. Hopefully we will return in better weather next year.
YEW TREE TRAILS
Well it had to happen one day. The Essex Trail Events gazebo had its first soaking this lunchtime at the Yew Tree Trails. However the majority of the field had finished by the time the rains came.
A lovely new venue and a beautiful new area for running only attracted a small field of 54, but I’m sure we will return and word will spread.
Apart from one short section on the longer run the ground was hard with the possibility of fast times on a very runnable course. When Allen Smalls finished in 1.04.26 we were not surprised, however James Bosher absolutely blasted around the 9.3 mile route in an amazing time of 59.29. Third home was Jon Cooke, a local runner, who was surprised we managed to find him some new paths.
Lynn Higgs again ran to victory, with Sandra Rust second and Julia Binstead third.
The bees did claim one victim, but she had her own personal surgeon running with her so no problem. Apart from one short section, which we asked permission to run on, the route was all on public rights of way and there are many more we can utilise next time we venture to the far west of the county, we might even sneak into Hertfordshire.
The big rush seems to have abated so we still have places available in all our races starting next week at Cornish Hall End.
WRITTLE WROUND WREPORT
Thanks to all the runners who turned up despite the forecast apocalypse. I had been monitoring weather forecasts for days and decided the Met Office knew best (they did not forecast storms until late afternoon).
In fact the top half of the field arrived without encountering any rain. Unfortunately the bottom half enjoyed a monsoon. When I say enjoy, quite a few finishers remarked that it had made a welcome change.
Our gazebo is famous for never having been rained upon and we didn’t hold out much hope this time, but yet again we remained dry despite dark clouds most of the day. (Just watch it chuck down this Sunday at Manuden – good warm down 10 miler by the way, especially after a 50K – see you there).
Two years ago the conditions were quite muddy after a day of heavy rain so it was no great surprise that all the leg records and course records were broken.
James Sullivan won in a record time of 4:09:30 beating the previous time by 27 minutes. He also claimed all the fastest leg times (apart from Leg 4 – well done James Smith), but was pushed all the way by Daniel Kyne, who finished just under 4 minutes behind to smash his time of 2019 by 32 minutes. Third place went to James Smith who upped the tempo when he found out he was in third place at Good Easter to also beat his previous time by 32 minutes.
The ladies record was broken by Amy Brass who improved on her previous time by 28 minutes to clock 5:11:49 and knock over 8 minutes from the course best. She also created new leg records on 2 and 4. Sandra Rust had a strong finish to take second spot in 5:29:51. Third place went to Keeley Jordan who knocked almost 2 hours off her 2019 time.
The grumpy marshal on the A414 thanks you all for being sensible and not dashing in front of the lunatic drivers. I’m surprised there’s any tarmac left on that road. Huge thanks to all our helpers who I know were greatly appreciated by you all and me and Howard.
As we finally left the hall at about 6.30pm to go to the pub we all got thoroughly drenched. We watched the river flowing down the road from the “covered” beer garden of the Wheatsheaf quaffing a lovely pint and thoughts turned to next year. Will we do it again…..probably.
Katy & Sharon at A Christmas Trail
PHEW WHAT A SCORCHER
It read 25 degrees in my car as I arrived at Earls Colne Scout Hut and 31 when I left about four hours later. It truly was a scorcher. Even with much of the course in Chalkney Woods the heat was quite something.
The route in another beautiful area of Essex countryside following the Colne valley was designed by Dave Game. Dave had a lot of trouble over the preceding weeks with overgrown paths but found us some great paths to run on with only the tracks in Chalkney Woods being difficult due to slippery mud.
There were only a few people doing the half marathon route so not too many runners overtook me, although some managed to pass me at least twice.
The highlight for me was the impromptu shower set up by the friendly couple at the big house we ran in front of. I was really beginning to fade when this oasis appeared. The lady of the house even offered me a glass of water. I stood in the spray for a while and was quite wet. Five minutes later I was bone dry. There are some very nice people about.
Julia Binstead overtook me muttering about getting lost in the first sortie through the woods and then took a wrong turn. Asking me if this was the right way, I shouted “No” after her several times, but Julia did not hear. I even waited for her to reach the far side of the field, but she didn’t look round. There are some nice people about.
When Julia finally caught me up again in the woods she called me “Meanie” for not calling her back, but apologised when I told her I had.
For the last three miles I went into walk, jog mode which quite quickly became walk mode as I’m not trying to break any records (apart from Country & Western LPs, I can’t stand it). Bob Langley caught me up and we had a bit of a chat as we hadn’t seen each other for ages.
Back at the finish most of the shorter course runners had been and gone but thankfully left plenty of beer and food for us plodders.
Another great trail by Mid Essex Casuals.
FORAGE THROUGH THE BORAGE
We discovered this venue after our On Your Marks trail back in April. Michael, the owner, was keen about hosting so we are pleased that we had such a nice evening for the run and that you now all know of the existence of the barn. It was certainly different having a DJ at one of our events and hope you had an entertaining evening.
I planned the route before most of the crops had grown so Howard and I had quite a bit of gardening to do on the day of the race. One farmer was actually harvesting in the afternoon which unfortunately obliterated a couple of paths, but the marker posts were still clearly visible. We hope you enjoyed your forage through the borage as we spent some time making the path a bit more obvious. We thought that most of the course would be known to the locals, but apparently we did find a few new paths for you.
Mission Control was in a shady spot and it was soon evident that it was quite warm out on the course as the first finishers were dripping sweat everywhere. We had just set the last starters off as the first people returned so perfect timing for us as we just managed to get a beer in before the rush. I can thoroughly recommend Red Fox IPA by the way, a tasty session beer (that goes well with sausages).
The winner was Adam U’Glow Jones who along with Jackie Stretton, who was second, have become regulars at our events this year. Second man, a minute back, was Gary Chandler with Jon Byford just behind. Second lady was Lynn Higgs with Lucy Ferguson third.
Strangely despite the title of the race two of the above people had no idea that the bangers and mash was included in the entry fee.
There are trails every weekend for the next few weeks all still with plenty of spaces.
A SMUGGLER'S TRAIL
The trails over the last couple of weeks have certainly shown us how varied our county can be. After last week’s hills Justin and Nadine put on this trail from a new venue in one of the flattest parts of the county.
The course was a mile or so along the river then we turned inland through some pleasant country crossing the railway line twice before returning through the country park to the finish. A bit too much road for me, but just look at the map and you will see Justin used most of the footpaths available. The instructions had a few quirks but were spot on.
For me personally it was not the best of days. I went to bed on Saturday with stomach ache and still had it as I drove the windy (as in bendy not blowy) roads to Burnham. Maybe not the best surfaced but an excellently sized car park welcomed us to Swallowtails.
I enjoyed the riverside but as we turned inland I swallowed a fly and was retching when Richard Taylor came by and kindly allowed me a sip from his water bottle. We then encountered a friendly dog that should have trained its owners better. Then it was over the railway and a long road section.
After a long EP and some field edges a horse and rider came by. The runners in front carried on running and when I caught them up I told them horses have right of way and it is best to stop to let them pass. In most cases horses are very wary of runners and can get quite uppity just as their riders do. Luckily for us this rider was friendly and fully in control of her steed.
It was at this point that I read the instruction I had just done before talking to the runners and my extra mile followed all in the same field with lots of head scratching.
Back on course and no problems until encountering a DoE group who despite the aforementioned lack of footpaths had no idea where they were. It was at this point I swallowed fly number two. It was bigger and more easily digested so not a problem.
Some field edges and quite a bit of road before recrossing the railway and reaching the finish. Several people asked if I’d seen the swarm of bees, but they must have buzzed off before I got there.
Justin had originally planned this race for March last year so well done on clearing the undergrowth for us. Another excellent race from the Mid Essex Casuals stable. Scouting next week.
A really beautiful part of our county was shown in its full glory by some excellent routes devised by Sarah and David. The courses two years ago were excellent, but this year’s trip towards Castle Hedingham was even more scenic.
The day didn’t start too promisingly with quite heavy drizzly rain and grey skies. I was one of the first to start and the rain had abated. Four miles in however the heavens opened for five minutes and from then to the finish the humidity built and built in the full heat of the sun. It chucked it down on my drive home.
Being an early starter I was passed by almost all of the top ten finishers. First to overtake was Terry Brewster (4th) and Ian Brazier (5th). This was on a downhill road section in the rain which stopped as we turned off into the woods. They started together and were about 30 seconds apart when they passed me and 46 seconds at the finish, maybe they fell out in the first mile. Next to pass was the winner Allen Smalls, who I haven’t seen since Covid began. He obviously hasn’t lost any form and duly beat me by an hour!
Just before the railway crossing Adam Hunter (3rd) came by and not long after it was Lynn Higgs (9th/3rdlady). I kept Lynn in sight up three hills as the humidity began to build. At the top of the next climb Jon Byford (2nd) trotted by and the course became much flatter to the finish.
In sight of the finish on the village green Polly Bridgman (6th and winning lady) and Rob Sirett (7th) beat me to the much needed bottle of water and bag of crisps which awaited us. The only two of the top ten not to pass me were Lucy Westcott (8th/2ndlady), who started much later and Richard “Snig” Sirett (10th) who started in front of me.
A great route taking the opportunity to climb every bump in the landscape (couldn’t have done better myself) which was appreciated by everyone at the finish.
Apart from 53 runners in the half marathon there were 68 competitors in the 7 miler won by Simon Morgan in a close finish with John and Sue Clarke. Lorraine and Simon Baker were less than a minute behind and third lady was Julia Binstead by virtue of a sprint finish win over daughter Kirsty.
11 people completed the 4.8 miler with David and Nadine Collins winning, ahead of Faye Smalls and Heather Jackson. Jacob Tomlin and Jim Slater were second and third.
SHORTENED BUT SWEET
The news that the course had to be curtailed due to fallen construction materials, forming a 6 foot high barrier, across the route was greeted by most of the entrants very happily as the morning did not look too promising with drizzle and a cool breeze.
The conditions were surprisingly humid as proved by the majority of finishers staying outside at the finish to partake of their after race drinks.
Despite us stressing that the first instruction TL down side of pub was immediately after exiting the pub several runners took the next left as well including last week’s winner
James Bosher who only lives a mile away from the pub.
After missing out to James last week by 20 seconds Antony Goodall took sweet revenge by running the course without deviations to win by 4.5 minutes. Jon Byford again ran well to place third. Lynn Higgs claimed another first place with Lorraine Baker and Sarah Colbert again claiming podium positions.
The Prince of Wales again proved a welcoming venue and we will definitely be back soon.
CASTLE ON THE HILL
Firstly we want to congratulate Dave Game for doing his 1000th event at Mountfitchet today. That of course doesn't include all the trail events that Dave has organised which is around 200. We raise our glass to you .. cheers!
I think you'll agree that the weather was better than expected, if not a little warm for a few later finishers. Our gazebo has yet to be packed away wet since we got it a couple of years ago. Thanks to Mountfitchet Castle for having us, a lovely venue with deer, peacocks and peahens, ducks, goats and other assorted wildlife.
In the event we had confusion over SA (straight ahead) and as always even the best sometimes follow others the wrong way (no names mentioned) as most of us have done that without owning up in the past, I never did that of course.
For a while GFDR had Bosh (James Bosher) and Dec (Declan Evans) as the leaders, but they were soon to be split up by Ant (Anthony Goodall) Springfield Striders, so Ant and Dec were beaten by Bosh !!
Nikki Brockbank was the Ladies winner despite taking a wrong turn early on followed by Sue Clarke and Lorraine Baker.
Next week we are at Broxted for Charlies Trail, 10 miles(ish). Places still available until close on Wednesday. Hope to see you there.
Some Like it Hot
The Stag at Little Easton is a great venue for exploring the beautiful Essex countryside. It is even better when the sun shines and we certainly couldn’t complain on a fabulous evening. The pub also has what must be one of the most scenic car parks with the view over rolling fields. Unfortunately there is a proposal to build 44 houses on this lovely scene and would also probably mean the end of the pub. It would be great if you could leave a positive review for the pub on Google to help fight this proposal.
Unfortunately a few stingers had grown in the last week so apologies for not clearing them as we normally do. Despite this most people seemed to enjoy the course which varied from rolling hills to fast straight sections.
It was nice to see a few new faces and hopefully you will now be hooked.
The emphatic winner this week was Declan Evans of Grange Farm who even bought us a pint before he started. If you are looking to win one of our races it is worth a try, can’t promise anything though. Declan won by over three minutes from Jon Byford (Springfield) and Myles Coulson (Mid Essex).
Lynn Higgs (Mid Essex) got back to winning ways ahead of Saffron Striders duo of Rebecca White and Marianne Naylor.
TWO FIT LADIES
88 runners made their way to the Roundbush despite the traffic problems in the area.
There is a bingo term for 88 which according to some is inappropriate to use in these modern times. Well we had the answer with two brilliant runs. Jackie Stretton raced to victory in 35.46 with Nikki Woodyard just 36 seconds back. Jackie had set off a couple of minutes after her partner Adam U’Glow Jones and was disappointed not to have caught him. Adam had gone off course at the fallen sign post so Jackie had unknowingly passed him.
Over two minutes back was the first man Jon Byford, ahead of Gary Chandler and Andy Clarke making a welcome return to the trail scene. The third lady was Lynn Higgs, obviously held back by the return of her running partner.
The pub were a little overwhelmed being hampered by Covid restrictions and asked us to thank all the runners for being understanding and patient. Hopefully we will be returning to this welcoming pub in the winter for another night time race.
Another almost 100% turnout enjoyed some ideal running conditions and that rare thing sunshine.
When we arrived there were two cuckoos chatting across the woods and they were still at it as the last runners finished. Shame they didn’t come along and eat the midges that seemed to enjoy a feast on the finishers.
First man back Paul Scrivener had a head wound that looked impressive, but was merely a scratch. Another early finisher was Adam Hunter who had a fast finish so as not to be inconvenienced. There were good times posted by Ian Cardy, Paul Broome and David Lindsay, but the winner was Antony Goodall who after a slow and confused start flew round what we considered a fast course in an impressive 39.15.
Lynn Higgs continued her winning run with victory yet again. Maybe not running with her injured running partner Gary Abbott is the way forward. Lorraine Baker again ran well just heading off the Great Bentley duo of Vicky Presland and Deborah Hollidge.
Gary, the barman, worked his socks off keeping everyone refreshed and thanks to all the runners for keeping to the Covid restrictions.
See you next Wednesday at The Roundbush.
WORTH THE WAIT
The delayed Easter Eggstravaganza Day 2 finally took place today in warm sunny conditions.
Little Baddow is a fabulous area to run in, I have been running there every week for over 30 years, Covid and Foot & Mouth apart, and the long route certainly was a good introduction to the tracks, hills and woods.
Recent rains made it pleasant underfoot rather than a mud slog. I knew we were running round in circles, but was amused at the number of surprised faces I saw as I passed people for the second time.
The route took us down into Blakes Wood, then down to Chapel Lane, through the horses (who luckily are used to runners), through the old orchard, across “the Serengeti”. Then into Lingwood Common for a few ups and downs before crossing the ridge for more ups and downs, the obligatory climb of “Heartbreak Hill”, a trip past Heather Hills downhill and then the long uphill for the final enclosed paths back to the pavilion.
77 runners completed the 9.4 mile route with a further 48 in the 5 miler. Antony Goodall (Springfield) took 1:17:44 in winning the longer run ahead of Jackie Stretton (also Springfield) in 1:21:37. The host club Little Baddow Ridge Runners provided the 5 miler winner in Chris Hargraves. Sarah Colbert (Lonely Goat RC) was first lady.
Well done Little Baddow Ridge Runners, it was worth waiting for.
"CHICKING " ONGAR
The sun shone on our first Wednesday trail of the year from the excellent Cock Pub & Kitchen in Chipping Ongar. There were only a few drop outs from the sold out entry and everyone seemed to enjoy the course and the pub.
When Jackie Stretton finished we thought she had come second to Gary Chandler who took great pleasure in his 20 second victory. However it was actually a 40 second win to Jackie who admitted she had run a few metres extra. Adam U’Glow Jones managed to sneak in between them with an excellent run.
Rob Mills led in his phalanx of mates to take third man. Lynn Higgs was second lady despite missing a gate and Lorraine Baker took third.
Quite a few of you were running across an area they used to live in years ago including Lisa and Reece Smith who were chuffed to pass the church they were married in 29 years ago.
The pub looked after us really well and you all know where to go when you are next in the area for a monster pastie and a well kept pint.
Our next race at Galleywood is sold out but there are still places for the Beat About The Bush and Stagger Home races.
More than 70 runners and walkers took in the sights of the surrounding Coggeshall countryside. The 6.4 mile route saw the podiums full of the organising clubs best, Lyn Higgs led the ladies home in an impressive 5th place overall with Keely Jordan and Lorraine Baker not far behind.
The men’s result saw a very tight finish with Myles Coulson pipping Ben Leeds by a mere 3 seconds with Adam Hunter only half a minute adrift.
Personally it was a run too far for me as I struggled from the off and faded as the humidity built up particularly on the mile long enclosed track near Rivenhall. A nice run on a beautiful day. Thanks Dave.
POP UP TRAIL
The weather held for the Pop Up Trail and it was great to revisit some paths that I hadn’t been on for a few years.
I don’t ever remember going down (or even up) the long track at the start before and it certainly gave me a flying start. Dave Game has covered these paths from The Sportsman at Nounsley and I believe there was a trail once from the same car park and in more recent years from Pears Pantry. Justin had constructed an attractive course which when he had planned it for January was apparently a mud bath, but now it was concrete hard all the way.
After my “flying” start a long stretch of road slowed me down and fellow 10.20 starters Sue Aves and Diane Knights overtook me before the long enclosed path to Nounsley. Apart from overtaking the Jacksons who were walking the only other person I saw on the route was Lyn West who I just failed to catch.
Justin was obviously struggling to see his laptop screen as it was on the floor under the table. I can recommend a custom made “Mission Control” capsule manufacturer.
Gary Chandler had a clear win ahead of Adam Hunter and Myles Coulson. Polly Bridgman won the ladies race from Lynn Higgs and Lorraine Baker.
On Your Marks
A new venue and a lovely sunny, dry day helped make another successful socially distanced event. There wasn’t even a last minute swamp to run through. Again we would like to thank everyone for keeping their distance and for the most part arriving at the right time so that everything ran smoothly.
Due to the (very) firm underfoot conditions there were plenty of good times. Overall winner was Nikki Woodyard (Springfield) in a speedy 1.06.29. Andrew Lager (Witham) had a few problems at the start on Easter Monday, but had no trouble here as he completed the 9 mile route in 1.08.23. Third overall was Jackie Stretton (Springfield) whose blisters must have recovered in 1.09.27 accompanied by Adam U’Glow Jones.
There were a lot of compliments about the route even though we had to use a bit more road than we wanted. Thanks to Malcolm Bailey and Marks Tey Parish Council for the use of the car park and toilets and thanks again to you lot for taking part.
Easter Eggstravaganza 2021
Not quite the usual Eggstravaganza but greatly appreciated by all that attended.
Mid Essex Casuals kicked off what will hopefully be the start of a long uninterrupted run of trail races at an overcast Terling on Good Friday. Dave put on a choice of three distances.
James Bosher (Grange Farm)has obviously kept fit over lockdown and stormed around the 12 miler in 1.16.47 to win by almost 12 minutes from Gary Chandler (Springfield) and Nick Hammond (Mid Essex). Adam Hunter led in a string of Mid Essex Casuals including first lady Lynn Higgs. Melissa Dowell (Colchester Harriers) also made the top ten with Catherine Hull (Springfield) the third lady.
The most popular distance was the 7 miler won by Simon Morgan (Colchester Harriers) proving the Pfizer vaccine is working well. He was only three seconds ahead of Bill Smythe (Witham). They were the only two to beat the hour. Third man was a rejuvenated Jon Legge of Springfield in fifth place behind the first two ladies Vicky Knight and Tracy Harrington, both of Tiptree. Third lady was Hilda O’Kelly from Springfield.
The three mile event was a win for Chloe Wilson of the host club ahead of Andy Mason (Springfield) with the Little Baddow father/daughter combination of Ian & Katie Brazier in third.
Onto Writtle for Easter Monday and Springfield Striders 7.7 mile event. The main talking point for days had been the weather and it didn’t disappoint. We even had snow flurries. There were hardly any drop outs from the 150 strong pre-entered field.
Chris Burgoyne just pipped team mates Luke Fitz-John and Paul Miles for a clean sweep for the host club. Rachel Broome(Chelmsford) won the ladies race ahead of Jackie Stretton (Springfield)who had run a trail marathon the day before.