Archive for the ‘environment’ Category


October 22, 2007

I haven’t run in many races lately, but the revered captain of Town and Country Harriers (TACH), John McD, talked me into entering the Exmoor Stagger, a 15-mile milti-terrain race up the Quantocks to Dunkery Beacon from Minehead. It was, after all, high time I had another go. However, on the day, the said revered captain had a nasty cold, so he could not participate personally. So. on Sunday 21st October, I set off in our van with Emma and Lucien of GWR, to whom said captain had offered a lift.

As it happened, Emma and Lucien were charming company up and down the M5 and back and forth along the coast road to Minehead. We got there in very good time, which was ‘a good thing’, because it meant we found a parking place close to the race HQ and had time to find our bearings.

In the event, there were only three TACH runners at the start line, Turtle, Patrick and myself. The weather was perfect for such a long run – bright and cool. We set off in the opposite direction from the one I expected, and it turned out that the whole course was completely different from how I rememberd it. When I questioned those around me, I discovered that the course had been more or less the same for five years, which means it must have been at least six years since I last ran the race.

I started quite strongly and avoided the ignominy of being switched to the shorter Exmoor Stumble with comparative ease. However, I found the climb up to Dunkery Beacon very testing and I had to walk much of it. I was hoping to make up time on the descent, but instead of the wide track I was expecting, there was a narrow, rocky, slippery sheep track, which allowed younger legs to scamper away from me down the hillside. Under other circumstances, I would have enjoyed the switchback path that wound in and out of narrow combes cut by gurgling streams with rocky waterfalls and the distant views, but my legs were beginning to lose interest in any pace faster than a walk, and I had to give up all hope of catching Jim White of Weston AC, whose yellow vest in the dstance had acted as a spur on the way up. I ven had to allow his daughre Ruth to overtake as well.

Eventually, James Garland of Bad Tri caught me up, which proved to be a god-send. I didn’t know who he was, but he recognised me, because he had run in some of our TACH races, and introduced himself. He kept me talking until we reached the bottom of the descent from Dunkery Beacon. He pulled away during the cruel climb up the final ridge, but I caught up again at the last drinks station, where I was encouraged to take a couple of jelly babies and half a banana as well as a drink of water. Whether it was the banana or the jelly babies or the gradient of the final descent, I am not sure; but I seemed to have acquired a completely new set of legs. I could now enjoy the distant view of Porlock Bay and the light shining between the pine trees. I even started overtaking a few people, although there was one man with a camel back (water container), whom I could not quite catch.

I was greeted by Patrick and the contingent from Weston AC at the finish. (I was even invited to join the Weston team photo!) Turtle came in a few minutes later behind another man with a camel back, whom I had overtaken on the last descent.

Later, I found out that Emma had won a prize in the V35 category. Lucien finished some time after Turtle. It turned out that it was the first time Lucien had ever run that far – he looked a bit shell-shocked! I also finished ahead of James Eastwood. I won no prize, but I am definitely back into racing. As I write I am calculating how much I will have to increase my weekly mileage to finish ahead of Jim and Ruth!


The Song of the Woodwoses

October 20, 2007

Beware you quango-planners

You men in suits of grey

You faceless men in offices

Who care not what we say

Beware the curse of Woodwoses

Will haunt you till you die

And ghostly feet you’ll hear at night

Of wild men rushing by


In ancient days they bellowed here

Their eyes with passion burned

Uprooted trees and herded stones

In circles as they turned

And now they have returned again

To Avon’s Forest ring

To stamp their feet upon the earth

And make the ley lines sing:


The song of the Earth


The Earth has greater powers than you

You nameless suited men

Your Mother longs to suck your blood

And play your bones again

And dance again as once She danced

To make all life begin

To the rhythm of the drums She’s made

From stretched out human skin


© C.J. Bloor 2007