In Memoriam – St David’s Day 2014

8/1/15 one year on

Green man

Green Man 2014 – St David’s Day 2014

My story of finding myself at the start of the Green Man circumnavigation of Bristol is probably very similar to many others. I started running, ran a few half marathons, then a few marathons then realised that running around the countryside offers far more than physical health benefits and is actually, for me, the best way to clear my head or think or relax depending on what is required.

I entered the Green Man Ultra through the guys at Ultrarunning Ltd as a natural progression for me to see how much further I could go, but it ended up meaning a whole lot more. Through the winter months I had been on several recce’s as recommended by my local Woodwose, Neil Banwell, who offered me a great insight into what was required. My Dad had also been roped in to pick me up from various obscure locations surrounding Bristol as I abandoned my car to run off along the Community Forest Path – although as an avid rambler and lover of the outdoors he didn’t mind and was repaid with a pint of Bath Ale at our meeting points.

My Dad passed away on the 8th January 2014 quite unexpectedly.

I arrived at Redwood Lodge full of excitement edged with trepidation about what was to come and if I could complete the challenge. Event day was St David’s Day – 1st March – which would have been my Dad’s 73rd birthday, and although emotional, I was determined to channel this in order to keep me going.

After a quick chat with Ira Rainey, author of ‘Fat Man to Green Man,’ who I was keen to meet after reading his book through my training, we were off into Ashton Court in glorious sunshine. It was such a beautiful day, I did think to myself that someone was watching over me as I set off into the deer park feeling confident, if not a little overwhelmed.

Ashton Court and the Dovecote came and went but it wasn’t until the other side of the park and ride that the true extent of the previous weeks relentless rain became obvious – the ground was absolutely sodden and mud a good six inches deep at least in most areas. This made for hard progress and slipping and sliding around was unavoidable. It was a relief to reach the bottom of Dundry Hill and a change of terrain, a chance for a quick walk up the hill and to take in the views.

The mud relented somewhat on the passage through and Norton Malreward village hall was a welcome sight and a chance to refuel. Feeling good I continued on my way although the various runners I had been chatting with up to this point were now few and far between. I passed the Compton Inn where I had been with my father only a few months previously after my first recce, and continued on.

By the time I reached the Lock Keeper Inn I was in some discomfort as my trainers had started to rub on the tendons on the top of each foot, something I hadn’t had at all before, and a little worrying as there was still over a marathon distance to go. I put this down to the muddy conditions, gave them a rub, ate a couple of Jam sandwiches and kicked on.

The journey along the railway line and the Dramway proved to be a low point for me, and by the time I had reached Kendleshire golf course and Hambrook I was really flagging. Too much time to think about absent loved ones and the niggling tendons that had now turned to searing hot red pain had left me at a bit of a low but I was determined to continue and wasn’t considering stopping as option, not on that day of all days.

I was buoyed by the fact that I had now got less distance to go than I had covered, and used this together with the fact that I was expecting friends to see me over Spaniorum Hill and onwards to the Blaise Estate. It was a big boost to see my friend Robin (who will be running Green Man with me in 2015) and his family, we had a quick chat, some food and on I went on knowing the end was in sight.

Darkness fell as I reached Durdham Downs and it was a spectacular sight running over an illuminated Suspension Bridge with the fantastic views of the lights of Bristol unfolding. I reached Ashton Court and headed to the Green Man to pay my respects and reflect on the day. All that was left was the short distance back to Redwood Lodge where I was greeted by my mother, step dad, a sizeable bowl of delicious chilli and the knowledge that I had done myself and my Dad proud over a period of 10 hours and 47 minutes.

In memory of Barry Keith Hillier.

Woodwose ccxi

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