This Wednesday Galleywood Gallop entries close 16th May
We were a little worried when we heard tales of people going to Newmarket, Harlow and Dunmow before finding the start. Another two got lost in Hatfield Forest as they cycled to the event. What hope of them all getting round a tricky (in places) course?
We needn’t have worried, a few added a bit extra and another trio managed a bit less (we did stress not to follow anyone). But in the main everyone got home with the right distance even though some definitely used different routes in the nature reserve. The swing in the reserve was also too much of a temptation for several runners, which might explain them running off in different directions afterwards.
We called the race In Search of the Bluebells and it proved to be a bit of a struggle to find as many as we would have liked. The best displays were to your left but we were surprised to be told by one runner that he hadn’t seen any despite there being “millions”.
With the ground so hard there were a few scrapes but everyone at least ran into the finish, where despite the lovely sunny weather Howard was a tad cold sat under the gazebo so he could see the laptop screen. Two steps forward where I stood it was lovely and warm.
The Castle were very accommodating again and with a huge free car park which all but one of the competitors found a space to park in, we will be back next year to explore more of this interesting area.
EASTER EGGSTRAVAGANZA 2022
What a great comeback from Covid for the Easter Eggstravaganza. Rarely have all four days had blue sky and sunshine. 258 competitors ran or walked. With 126 men and 132 women it proves how open to all this form of running is, from the out and out racer to the majority of us just enjoying some lovely countryside and welcoming pubs.
The bulk of the 258 runners only ran once but 23 did all four days and another 17 managed three, with a further 49 doing two.
On Friday Dave Game (Mid Essex Casuals) provided a choice of three distances. The longest of 13.2 miles was won by Chris Seymour (MEC) and Alan Hart of Stowmarket Striders. First lady was Christine Howard of Billericay Striders.
The quarter marathon attracted the biggest field and was won by Adam Jones (U/A). First lady was Lynn Higgs (MEC). The winners of the 4.5 mile race were Ronnie Williams (MEC) and Wendy Carter & Anna Bambridge both from Halstead.
Saturday’s race was organised by Andy Ritchings (Little Baddow Ridge Runners). The technical and hilly course was won for the host club by Liam Beavis. Anna Barclay (MEC) was first lady.
Howard Jardine (Grange Farm & Dunmow Runners) hosted two distances on Easter Sunday. Outright winner of the longer course was Jackie Stretton who made light work of a race that was 180 miles shorter than her last endeavour. First man was Jon Byford. The winners of the 5k were Poppy and Ian Gowers to give Springfield Striders a clean sweep on the day.
Day 4 saw the largest field (crème egg has a lot to do with it) and some very fast times. Antony Goodall and Nikki Woodyard sped around a fast course to keep the host club at the head of things.
Overall winners taking the best three results were Chris Hargraves of Little Baddow Ridge Runners and Lynn Higgs from Mid Essex Casuals. When the finances have been finalised the prize fund will be shared between the first 20 men and women overall.
Thank you to all the host clubs Mid Essex Casuals, Little Baddow Ridge Runners, Grange Farm & Dunmow Runners and Springfield Striders and to all the host pubs; the Bell at Panfield, the Generals Arms at Little Baddow, the Swan at Rayne and the Rose & Crown at Great Waltham.
But mostly thanks to all the runners for making it truly an Easter Eggstravaganza.
Day 3 and another beautiful morning for trail running. After two days I decided to walk with Helen today. Nothing to do with my tumble yesterday just my legs can’t cope with this hard ground for three consecutive days and I had already checked the route for Howard on Monday.
A lot of people had already started when we arrived which helped form a faint path across the first ploughed field. We were able to chat to loads of runners as they passed and also explained what was happening to some dog walkers.
When we got back to the pub the tables were full of happy runners basking in the sunshine and enjoying a drink. While chatting with Howard I noticed the gate with the bloody great sign “Please Shut The Gate” was open, so I went over and shut it. The sign was so the pub dog didn’t escape. Moments later it was open again and off I went to shut it again. The next time it was left open by a runner who was looking at her phone I moved the sign so you had to climb it to get through the gate. If this is what runners do when there is an enormous sign what the hell do they do out on the course. PLEASE SHUT ALL GATES.
You’ll be pleased to know there are no gates tomorrow so unless someone parks stupidly I should be of a more pleasant disposition. (Unlikely😀)
What a difference a week makes. On my usual Saturday run last week hardly a bluebell in sight, this week at Day 2 of the Easter Eggstravaganza from the same car park, loads of them.
I arrived early as it is Helen’s birthday today so had to get back for celebratory lunch. Andy kindly let me go early and said I should try not to get caught. After yesterday my legs were sore but with the first mile downhill I felt fine. Through the swamp that apparently Little Baddow Ridge Runners call chicken korma came the first short climb, then the long downhill on the narrow enclosed path. Through the horses and then down the new steps all was going well. The climb through the Serengeti slowed me somewhat and I even had to wait for traffic on the road in the estate before the main road.
I counted all my white topped posts, through a gate, passed a lone cow and on through Danbury Park. The instructions became quite fiddly but perfectly correct. Then the climb to Danbury church. Someone must think they are being helpful having gravelled the enclosed path. It was like climbing a scree gulley in the Lakes.
Four miles in and still no-one has come by. Down the steep track past the scout hut and up into Lingwood Common. A fallen tree gave me a good excuse to walk, but then downhill through the common and up to Scout Hut number two. Into the last mile and still clear.
I see Jon Byford, just starting, and give him a shout. I was thinking to myself that he could easily have tripped up by looking over at me and 20 metres on I did just that. The ground was very hard but unusually for me not much blood. Found my glasses which had flown off my head and picked myself up to run the last little bit up the lane to the finish.
I had done it, Leader in the clubhouse. Very shortly afterwards a steady stream of Little Baddow Ridge Runners followed me in. Well done Andy and Nick. See you tomorrow.
The Easter Eggstravaganza returned properly this year with Day 1 at the Bell at Panfield.
It was a glorious morning if a little warm. It is three years since we ran from here on a very similar day and as I plodded around it soon became clear that we were running the same course, although last time I clocked it at 7.14 and this time at 7.0 even with the minor detour around the fallen tree. It is a lovely route and well worth running around again.
With Panfield and Rayne (Sunday’s run) being so close I thought the routes might meet at some point, but you will pleased to know that you will be encountering entirely different scenery from The Swan. The paths are all rock hard at the moment and slightly softer in the woods so no doubt there will be some fast times.
Dave had originally advertised this as an 11am start (I completely missed the change to 10.30am) so I turned up at about 20 past eleven to see finishers cooling down after a hot run. There were still plenty of runners and walkers about though and still some out when I left the inviting beer garden to go home.
When I got home Facebook reminded me that this day last year we were allowed back into pubs after the lockdown. It is so nice to be getting back to something like normal.
DON'T GO WITH THE FLOW
We were really disappointed to have to change the first mile of the course, but everyone seemed to enjoy the courses on a lovely sunny day.
Howard finalised the course on Tuesday and all was fine. When I went round to check on Thursday, the heavy rain of the day before meant that a slipway from the river which would have been slippery anyway was now a torrent of fast flowing water. Three dry days passed but when Howard checked again early Sunday morning the water was still flowing across. We know you don’t mind getting your feet wet (you can’t do if you do our events) but we felt this was too risky to cross. We will endeavour to incorporate this section in a future event from the Stag.
The rest of the course however was in the main very dry although we had a few return with muddy knees. This area has been covered in the past but it was a long time ago, maybe 15 or 20 years so was new to most of the field. There were lots of daffodils and spring lambs especially on the shorter course.
There was also a worryingly high non starter rate as Covid seems to be taking its toll. I personally know of lots of cases, but it seems most people only have mild symptoms. We will continue to take precautions and continue for the time being with our no drink station or keybox policy.
Allen Smalls was a convincing winner of the longer run ahead of Jon Byford and Chris Hargraves. Keeley Jordan just pipped Lynn Higgs with Julia Binstead in third spot. In the short course Anna Barclay won outright from Myles Coulson. Next were Andrew and Rozlyn Smith. Caroliena Cameron was third lady and old hand Yan Stile was third man.
It was back to the Museum of Power again today for the first in the Mid Essex Casuals Quarter Marathon series. With Dave reverting to the pre Covid system of entry on the day, it was back to the long registration queue.
At least we were inside the Museum and the queue is always a very sociable part of the event. Well we were sociable; I’m not so sure about the Museum volunteer who was having a good old mutter to herself. I prefer the long sociable queue at the bar after the event where you can exchange views on the route and how good or bad the instructions were. The instructions as per usual were fine although quite a few people couldn’t be bothered to read the last line. And for all you pedants we didn’t cross two fallen trees, it was two branches of one fallen tree.
Even with the windy weather I thought I would need my studded shoes, but the shorter course was easily negotiable in road shoes as the ground was hard. I believe the 11 milers did encounter some softer ground.
For the most part I knew the paths but Dave managed to find a couple of well dodgy stiles I hadn’t been over before. There were some nice views from the road above Beeleigh Abbey before the long descent down Abbey Turning to the falls.
Thanks to Dave and Sylv. See you all next week at Little Easton.
SUNNY SEASIDE SAUNTER
Well what a boring day. Apart from someone only having two right footed shoes to change into afterwards everything went perfectly. No tales of missed FBs or FPSs and no need of taxis to get to the finish and probably best of all no naked men.
When I checked the course in gale force winds last week I thought what an excellent mix of terrain Howard had found and it seems with the added bonus of blue skies and full on sunshine so did most of the runners. A RHFE is much more interesting when you can look over the surrounding waters.
The high winds had also dried out the course so made for some fast running. None faster than Allen Smalls who was the first one back and kept his lead in the clubhouse right through. Fellow Colchester Harrier Paul Dellar was the closest to the winner with another good run by John Sweeney of Castle Point in third spot. Anna Barclay was fourth overall beating fellow Mid Essex Casual Lyn Higgs into second spot with Emily Worboys in third.
If you have done Run the Island and our two trails you might think you’ve done all the footpaths on Mersea; well think again we still have some more to explore next year.
I knew it was going to be a strange day when I passed a car sat on top of the crash barrier at Great Leighs bypass on my way to the race. Things only got stranger. To protect the innocent (guilty?) I’ll mention no names.
The slight chance of rain forecast by the Met Office turned into quite a prolonged downpour so we knew conditions were going to be tough and that was just the car park. We were going to make sure the runners didn’t traipse any mud into the carpeted bar when they finished, but the first person through the door for registration did just that.
The early starters set off in heavy rain and we had all sorts of tales about difficult journeys from all points of the county. We had a couple who thought the race was at the Horse & Groom, Galleywood and at 5.20pm looked at the final email to find that it was at the Horse & Groom, Cornish Hall End a further 25 miles away. They also didn’t realise that there was a meal afterwards which softened the blow.
The first runners began to return mud splattered before the final runner had started. He had travelled from North London and not realised quite how far from civilisation Cornish Hall End is. This was also his first navigation trail so we were a little worried we might be sending out search parties.
Talking of search parties we had two gentlemen who got so lost they arrived back at the finish by car. They had previously stopped at a house for help and were greeted by a man with just a towel around his middle. Apparently he pointed them in the right direction.
Talking of search parties one runner clocked up 10.76 miles (distance changed to protect identity) and has received quite a bit of stick since. He said he enjoyed it even though he didn’t see the boat.
Another runner dropped his keys in the mud on the first field edge and quite a few got a shock from a newly erected electric fence which obviously boosted ones performance as he finished high up in the results (not the air). There was also a conspicuous arrow which proved elusive to many.
Our runner from North London got round with little trouble so everyone was back safe and sound and we could relax. That is until we helped push a car out of the mud in the car park.
The pub did us proud with an excellent meal and good beer and can’t wait to have us back. If you are ever in this area please support this pub. Without us last night they probably wouldn’t have had any customers.
Well done to our winners Milly Presland and Simon Carrington and well done to you lot for turning up on such a horrible night and enjoying yourselves.
WET AND STICKY WICKET
What a difference a week makes. A really firm course turned into a mud bath with heavy overnight rain turning nice paths into streams and fields into no man’s land. Most of you seemed to enjoy it though. We really must do an event from here in the summer some time.
We expected a few drop outs but a still strong field turned up to enjoy the environs of Rickling Green on a course that had its fair share of open land and enclosed paths. Luckily the infant River Stort was still navigable and only slightly wetter than the path to it. Some early runners had to suffer another burst of rain, but the majority of the field had a dry if somewhat windy and slippery run.
We only heard of a few navigational errors and the two dog bins although 400m and two lines of instructions apart caused a few people a problem. Others were just people deciding that TR was TL and visa versa.
Congratulations to our winners (see results page) and thanks Sandra for the chocolate brownies.
PITCH BLACK IN PURLEIGH
The Roundbush is a favourite venue of ours and we feel it is worth the 500m out and back to get to the footpaths. The road back at least gives runners a chance to shake the mud off their shoes.
50 plus runners and walkers took on the Pitch Black in Purleigh challenge with over 400 feet of climbing and descents. Howard and I had a debate about which exit of the tree roundabout you should take and we also put up tape to guide through the common. Happily nobody went too far astray in the dark.
The Roundbush, as usual, was very welcoming and produced an excellent meal for everyone at the finish and a roaring fire. And of course excellent beer.
John Sweeney just pipped Darren Coates by three seconds to take the victory with Thomas Burman less than a minute behind in third spot. Lynn Higgs was fourth overall ahead of Shukila Jordan with Melanie Carrington, Julia Gardiner and Vicky Presland running together for third place.
We will be back in the summer so you can see the views you missed last night.
THE DAY AFTER THE DAY AFTER
Poor Howard went out several times in the week to try and rescue the 13 mile route, but other than adding a two mile road section he couldn’t find a way around the problem track. A byway which apparently is notoriously muddy had been covered in hard-core which Howard couldn’t even walk on. Presumably the council will run a roller over it in the future to make it fit for purpose.
However most entrants particularly those that had slipped and slithered around Ongar on Friday were more than happy to settle for the 7 mile route. Two hardy souls Paul Dellar and Melissa Dowell opted to do two laps. Chapeau. The rest of you wimps made light work of the course which was quite heavily affected by the wind. Fast out, slow back. Never heard so much whingeing about a little hill. Talking of wimps Howard and I enjoyed the warmth of the log fire in the comfort of the pub.
We welcomed some newcomers from Trent Park Running Club who seemed to enjoy the experience.
A nice gentle start to the new year and everyone finished before the heavens opened.
River Stort (photo courtesy of Sarah Orley)