Archive for the ‘off-road’ Category

Florida 50 miler

October 2, 2012

Woodwose LIII, Alex Foster came second in the JW Corbett 50 mile race in Florida on September 22nd in a time of 9h 44mins. This comparatively slow time was due to the fact that 25% of the course was under water. I expect TACH training stood him in good stead!

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GREENMAN NIGHT RUN/WALK

October 2, 2012

GREENMAN NIGHT RUN/WALK.

FRI24TH AUG 6PM -SAT 12PM.(18HOURS)

completed by Rob and Sarah.

This night attempt is something we both have wanted to do for along time after many hours spent training on the GM throughout the year. Our first complete GM was  the ultra running event in March. We both felt a GM attempt @ night would add an extra challenge to an already challenging course taking in account the terrain and navigation involved. Only after many hours spent on the course already in the dark usually around 5am on a winters morning did we feel able to consider doing this all night. We were right to be cautious as navigation @ night is difficult across many fields in which it isn’t obvious which direction you need to go when tired and its dark. The experience held many highs and lows, this was an experience we would definitely repeat.

The highs were running with the moon as a light source most of the time. We both were quite amazed that we didn’t need are head torches a lot of the time as our eyes adjusted to the light and in fact we found the head torches quite dazzling especially after many hours. The stars were more prevalent certainly more than what you can usually see in your back garden in the centre of Bristol. The quiet of the night was enjoyable, the only noise you could here was the cows munching on the grass.

The lows were being chased by cows, quite scary really a whole herd chased us near Walnut Farm due to there being young cows in the field, we decided to walk.

The tiredness was very difficult, we spent 2am- 4am virtually sleep walking. We both found it difficult to hold a conversation – we had slurred speech – couldn’t finish sentences – we both were shutting our eyes uncontrollably and both even started hallucinating. It was really odd, but it did pass once the sun started to come up again. I think the extreme tiredness was due to both having got up 4am on the Friday morning worked a full day and then leaving for our attempt 6pm in the evening when we were already tired, a mistake, next time you definitely need rest and sleep before starting.

It may be interesting to add that there are water taps @ all the churches on route which we found helpful. We ate chicken wraps after experimenting with other foods, these worked for us. A change of socks with a bit of talc to dry your feet was nice to stop “trench foot”. We even had time for a cold foot bath in the river @ Keynsham. We were fortunate with the weather – we had one down pour, but that was covered by our ponchos, which we carry with us anyway.

We have just completed GM again in 15 hours, this time in the day and going in the opposite direction on the 22nd Sept 2012. We chose to do it in the opposite direction as on May bank holiday 2013 we are planning on doing both ways at the same time which will give us a total of 90miles, a good indication for our training for a 100 mile attempt @ another event @ the end of July.

 If anyone would like to join us or support us with our attempt in May you are more than welcome.

     Sarah Sweeting and Rob Dickson

The View from the Front by Darryl Carter

March 13, 2012

GREEN MAN ULTRA RACE REPORT

Saturday 3 March 2012

The Green Man Ultra is a 47mile race organised by UltraRunningUK.   Its course closely follows the Green Man Challenge route around Bristol’s Community Forest Path (CFP). 

More details at www.ultrarunning.uk.com/green-man-ultra.html

I had been keen to do the Green Man Ultra ever since I saw its inception on the UltraRunning website.  It is quite an interesting course that loops around Bristol and has some fantastic views.  My only concerns were a) fitness and b) navigation.  I had spent most of February in Lanzarote working and getting in a lot of off-road (lava) running and scrambling.  As well as sea swims and the occasional bike ride I managed 50/110/70miles running over the three weeks.  My legs were completely shot when I returned home and I suffered a little ‘over-reaching’.  I spent most of race week resting and taking my Elagen supplements, and fortunately by Thursday I felt a lot better and ready to race.

At 3:45am on Saturday morning the alarm went off!  I wasn’t looking forward to a 2hr+ drive from Teddington (Middlesex), but at least it meant I could have a decent breakfast in advance of the race.  Once at the race venue (The Redwood Lodge Hotel & Country Club)  I had just enough time to sort myself out, meet the organisers and the Gaveller, some fellow competitors, and check out the OMM stand (I’m always looking for an upgrade!).

It was interesting to see a number of canicross competitors and their dogs for this race. At the start of the race one dog got a little excited, broke free from its owner and gave the leading runner a fright.  Only a few hundred metres into the race a group of four formed at the front – Martin Indge, Alex Foster, Liz Wiggins and myself.  I’d never met any of them before, but they all seemed quite comfortable with up to 7:15/M pace.  After just over a mile we joined the Green Man Challenge Route, heading south along the CFP.

Despite the cold and intermittent showers we were all in good spirits and Alex was doing a fine job of directing us along the route having recced it in advance.  I had also done a recce of the first 27miles of the route with a friend in January.  We were hoping to recce the whole route but ran out of time thanks to a number of small navigational errors.  It didn’t fill me with much confidence on the day, although I had a decent map and a garmin watch, so at least I wouldn’t get completely lost.

Miles 2-6 went over rolling fields of grass and mud, climbing over stiles and gates, and dodging the occasional cow and horse.  At the start of the race I was contemplating how quickly we were running and what it translated to in terms of an overall time.  It wasn’t until 6 miles into the race with shoes full of mud that I appreciated just how tough the 47mile course was going to be. I was already getting quite sore and stiff, particularly in the hamstrings and glutes.  I never expect to get through an Ultra run without some amount of pain but this was a lot earlier than expected, and I put it down to the training block in Lanzarote the weeks before.  It certainly left me somewhat concerned and uncomfortable.  In contrast Martin was running very comfortably beside me and seemingly enjoying himself.  He had a quick leg turnover and if he dropped back to do something he would sprint back beside me in seconds. This could be a long hard day.

I considered the first significant climb to be at Dundry Quarry and thought I’d seize the opportunity to test my fellow competitors out by running all the way up.  I didn’t consider it to be a risk as I’d run much longer and steeper climbs in the Brecon Ultra.  At the top of the hill, where the course starts to head east, I glanced back and didn’t see anyone.  I eased off on the run into Dundry but just as I reached the main gate I could hear the fast turnover of feet from behind and Martin was there once again, only probably in better shape from a more balanced effort!  There were a number of ladies with huge dogs in Dundry and for a moment I thought the canicross runners had taken a different route.

From Dundry the route continued east towards Norton Malreward and Checkpoint1.  Martin and I continued at quite a strong pace, but due to a few small navigational errors would find ourselves picked up again by Alex and Liz.  This was particularly the case at East Dundry where just like in my recce we took the wrong route down another path and had to backtrack.  This would happen many more times during the race, but thankfully I would become aware of my errors within about 10-15 seconds thanks to the Garmin watch and could either backtrack or divert.  The four of us made it to Checkpoint1 at the Norton Malreward town hall within 1 minute of each other.

The weather had improved over the first 2hrs of the race and it was now getting quite warm.  Martin and I kept up a strong pace through Pensford, Woolard, Compton Dando and Checkpoint2 in Kenysham at 16 miles.  I was struggling with a lot of stiffness at this point and decided that after the aid station I would take a short break to shed some clothes, drink plenty of electrolytes, stretch and take a toilet stop (not all at once of course!).  I didn’t mind giving Martin a couple of minutes lead as I was hoping I’d feel a lot more invigorated after the break and then entertain myself by trying to gradually bridge the gap.  However, it wasn’t until I turned the next corner near Londonderry Farm and the start of the Dramway that I noticed he had disappeared.  I didn’t know whether he had taken a wrong turn or simply speeded up, so I increased my effort past the Mill and along the Dramway before continuing along the CFP into the countryside once again. 

At 26 miles the course ran through the Kendleshire golf course and on exiting the grounds I heard a shout from a roadside (refreshments) van “You’re the first one!”.  It dawned on me now that Martin had indeed taken a wrong turn, and this encouraged me to work even harder.  At Damson’s Bridge I thought I had reached Checkpoint 3 when I spotted what looked like a pub across a stream to my left and a man in a bright yellow jacket bending over a crate of beer.  If only!  Although I did hang around for a couple of minutes double checking the map while salivating.  I weighed up the map against the Garmin and it seemed I was a little short, so continued.  At around 28 miles I finally reached Checkpoint 3.  I was tired, sore and stiff but it was good to know I now had less than 20 miles to go to the finish.  Checkpoint 3 and 4 were slow transitions.  It could be I was glad of the brief chat and something other than energy gel!

The next 10 miles to Checkpoint 4 involved a lot of running on roads and paths through residential estates and traversing the M4, M32 and M5 motorways.  Personally I don’t mind a few miles on tarmac in XC shoes.  The increase in muscle fatigue/soreness is off-set by the increase in pace – it’s nice to see those miles tick by a little quicker!  I vividly remember mile 32 at Bradley Stoke being a bad patch.  I really didn’t want to walk so I took another toilet break, drank a good 300-400ml and within 5mins I felt much better again.  Strangely enough I went through a bit of a rollercoaster ride of ups and downs for the next couple of miles.  The ascent of Spaniorum Hill at 36-37 miles was tough.  But despite a lot of pain in the glutes I didn’t want to break into a continuous walk so ‘ran’ as much as possible.  I started glancing back occasionally to see if I could spot anyone, but no-one was in sight.  I told myself that as long as I kept the pace up to the other side of the Clifton Suspension then I would be safe.  After 38 miles I entered Henbury and once again I ran with map in hand to make sure I didn’t take any wrong turns before Checkpoint 4. 

The reception from the volunteers at Checkpoint 4 was fantastic.  My only complaint (if it is one) is that they are ‘too friendly’ and you can get suckered into a conversation with cup of tea and slice of cake in hand!   I have to find a way of extracting myself from race checkpoints much quicker in the future.  

The Green Man route continues through the Blaise Estate on towards the river Avon.  There was another athletics XC event taking place, which may have caused some confusion to the marshals present, but as the last of the runners were finishing I nipped in and out without issue.  I was starting to get a little ‘lazy’ at this point.   I would find the excuse of checking the map, readjusting my backpack and/or taking nutrition to justify short walking breaks.  I’d been keeping an eye on my pacing and total distance at this point.  I thought I would be easily inside the green man course record and even break 7hrs.  However, I didn’t realise there was a lot of climbing still to come.  Miles 42-46 from Sea Mills through Sneyd Park estate and on to the Clifton Suspension Bridge were generally uphill and ate into the clock.  It was hard not to stop and appreciate the views high up over the bridge and the river Avon but I was leading a race, so immediately turned away and headed down to the bridge itself.

The final two miles over the bridge and back into Ashton Court were tough, going uphill into a headwind.  I would occasionally glance over my shoulder and take a few short strides to break it up.  I could now finally appreciate what I had done and enjoy the finish.  I’d taken part in a terrific race and enjoyed some wonderful views around Bristol.   The Gaveller was on hand at the finish to provide me with my Woodwose (‘wild medieval man of the forest’) certificate. 

My final time was 7hr8min, which was 11min quicker than the old record.  I made a number of navigational errors and perhaps wasn’t completely rested so I would like to come back later in the year when the weather is good, have less weight to carry and I’m more familiar with the course.

Darryl Carter  (Woodwose LIV)

Gear : 2XU compression calf guards and shorts, Ironman shorts, Helly Hansen LS top, Bjoern Dhaelie gillet, inov8 roclite 295 shoes.  I had a OMM race smock packed in my Olmo5 backpack along with compulsory race equipment and a couple of protein bars.  I started with 2 x 750ml bottles of electrolytes and added tablets to water at Checkpoints.

Official Race Results : http://www.ultrarunningltd.co.uk/results/green-man-ultra-2012

UltraRunningUK : http://www.ultrarunningltd.co.uk/

 

 

A new direction

March 10, 2012

The Gaveller is taking the idea of the Green Man to a wider audience in a fortnight’s time with a walk arranged in conjunction with the Aro Ling Buddhist art and meditation centre. Could be one to take your partner on?

Earthen Spirituality Walk

with Chris Bloor

11am Saturday 24th March

from the Aro Ling Art and Meditation Centre

 127 Gloucester Road,Bristol

The walk will serve as an introduction to the theme

Is Green Buddhism theNaturalState?

which will be presented in a talk by Aro Lamas, Shé-zér Khandro and Namgyal Dorje, at 2pm at Aro Ling

alongside  

acclaimed environmentalist

Sky McCain

who will be answering questions and signing copies of his new book, “Planet as self”

‘An incisive and most helpful guide for developing an Earth-centred spirituality that is integral and holistic, collaborative rather than competitive, enabling us to become partners and co-creators of Gaia.’

Ursula King, Prof Emerita of Theology andReligiousStudiesUniversityof Bristol

The walk (up to 6 miles) explores Sky McCain’s idea of Earthen Spirituality, which teaches us that we have ‘no need to “go” anywhere to be with the powerful and sustaining spirit of the Earth’ through green spaces accessible from the Gloucester Road. The walk will be timed to get back to the Aro Ling centre in time for the talk. The exact length of the walk will depend on the abilities of participants, who will need appropriate footwear and clothing, and money for refreshments and the bus fair down the Gloucester Road if time gets short.

 

Ultra Running Report on Green Man Ultra

March 6, 2012

http://www.ultrarunningltd.co.uk/results/2012-race-report

Inaugural Green Man Ultra

March 4, 2012

The first Green Man Ultra was organised by Steve Worrallo and Ken Shivyer of Ultra Running, starting from Redwood Lodge Country Club. It was to have started from Cotham Rugby Club, but that fell through so these large premises not far down Beggar Bush Lane seemed a good substitute. However, it added quite a distance to the course, and the hall we were allotted seemed too large and draughty by the time the less quick people got back. I was yearning for a log fire and a foaming pint by the time I left in the evening.

At 8am, I set off in a pair of “barefoot” Merrills to keep the competitors company until  Pensford.

This version of the route left out the Green Man’s Head, but I noticed that the views over Bristol were particularly attractive from this angle.

From Colliter’s Brook, the instructions supplied by Ultra Running diverged from the map they had supplied and from the route of the Community Forest Path so people were milling about when I got there. People had found the CFP route away from the path mentioned in the instructions so I encouraged those who had found the CFP to persevere in that direction.

As I was not racing, I was able to pause before each stile of kissing gate to enjoy the view back towards the Suspension Bridge. In Dundry, the map and instructions again diverged. I was with Phillip Howells, who was determined to follow the “official” route, so we went along the escarpment to enjoy the tremendous views across Bristol. I think it is the best view in within 50 miles. Maria Davis said that she would bottle it in her mind to keep her going when things got tougher later on. There was a group of lads from “Community Pay-back” clearing up the rubbish that has disfigured this spot for some time, and I noticed that Adrian Walcott from North Somerset PROW team had installed some kissing gates to improve this section as well.

Across Broad Oak Hill (a well used B-road rather than a lane) the map and instructions again diverged. I followed the map taking a merry band with me. The attraction of this part of the route is the valley of the stream that rises at Maidenhead and runs into the Chew opposite Stanton Drew stone circle. It must have been a sacred stream from time immemorial. As we followed it down from North Wick I noticed how this valley is dominated by the bulk of the Maes Knoll hill fort behind Model Farm.

Beyond Norton Hawkfield, the path has been diverted and seats installed to make the best of the views downwards towards Whistley Wood and Hammerhill Wood, which conceal the junction of the Maidenhead Stream and the Norton Malreward Brook. On the other side Maes Knoll rises above Norton Court.

The first checkpoint was over the brook in Norton Malreward Village Hall, so I made use of the toilets instead of the usual hedge! At this stage I felt I could have carried on for ever, but by the time we had crossed the grass airstrip, I was very glad that I had arranged for Libby to pick me up in Pensford as my knees were beginning to play up, especially after the descent of the stony track down Guy’s Hill to the B3130. My Merrills offered little protection to the stones, but it was actually my calves that were complaining the most as they encouraged me onto the forefoot (which is why I had bought them in the first place.)

I got back to Redwood Lodge with Libby in time to see Darryl Carter take nearly 12 minutes off the record held by Martins Indge and Beale – finishing in 7 hours 8 mins. Martin Indge was hoping to get inside 7 hours, but fell behind when he made a navigational error somewhere between Warmley and Shortwood. Local man Bill Graham scooped the Veteran’s prize, finishing in just over 8 hours and Liz Wiggins took the women’s record in 8 hours 21 mins thanks to sticking with Alex Foster, who knew the course backwards having completed it in December.

Matthew Gilliard was the first to come in accompanied by a dog, having been inspired by Jim Plunkett Cole and Alfie who had run around in about 11 hours in 2009. Matthew was pleased to have taken an hour and a quarter off Jim and Alfie’s time.

It was nice to see old friends Bryan Stadden, Judith Chubb-Whittle and Woodwose I, Chris Smart turning in respectable performances, together with some new faces from Southville running club.

But the most heart warming response was from Sarah Sweeting and Rob Dickson, who had been exporing the course for the past five months and knew it thoroughly. They declared it the best race they had ever done.

My day of redemption in the mud and ice by Neil Banwell

February 13, 2012

My story starts many months ago when my friend told me about The Greenman Challenge. I attempted it in June last year with Mark Beveridge and pulled out at the half way point with ITB problems. So in August, I retried and completed but with nowhere near enough Reccie runs I made a terrible mess of it and eventually got in with Gavellers help in 12hrs 45m, Now anyone who knows me well will tell you that I was never going to be happy with that time.

I was extremely proud to be in the order but at the time being the slowest running Woodwose tortured me on a daily basis, so I set my mind to getting it right, Over the last 6 weeks, I would get up every Sunday at 06.00 and make my way to various points of Bristol to do out and back runs on the sections of greenman, I was enjoying doing this because most sections take in beautiful scenery and are very peaceful (both things I love).

In mid January, I looked at my calendar and looked at what races I had planned for the coming months and with WSM tough ten challenge being on the 19th Feb and Bath Half being early in March I was quite limited to my dates; but it was important to me to get it done before Ultra running’s Greenman Ultra took place so I chose the 12th. This is it no going back, I was aiming for a 9hrs but knew I would be happy with 10 so it was all in place.

The night before I didn’t sleep well and my chest was tight, which is a normal reaction before an important event; but never the less I went to bed early and as a result I woke at 4 am and decided to get up and spent the next hour on the living room floor doing various yoga poses and stretch-offs trying to ensure I was as supple as you can be at that time of the morning. So porridge eaten and coffee drunk, I jumped in the car and made the 25 minute drive to The White Horse at Hambrook to get this show on the road.

It was still pitch black so with head torch on I started the stop watch and the Garmin and set off to fulfil my destiny(this is how I saw it anyway). I got to Patchway in good time and only stopped to update my location on the Blackberry. By now the sun was coming up and I was at Spanorium Hill and knew there was  a reason I did the route this way, because I ran the whole hill with no bother. Then I made it to Blaise again only updating the BB and made my way up along Kings Weston ridge still feeling good and raring to go.

In my reccies I saw Blaise to Greenman as a challenge, if it had been the last section because it is nearly all climbing, but again I ran the whole section without drama until I reached the Downs. As the normal merry go round of Sunday morning runners went about their business, I started to feel very tired and my legs were very tight and, being so early in the course, I felt a little disappointed in myself and wondered if I had trained hard enough. I ate a Snickers bar on the move and carried on and, soon after North Road, I was at Greenman and I stopped with him for a minute or two; because I knew what was coming in the next section and asked for his help, as it was going to get very tough very soon.

As I made my way down through Ashton Court I was actually welling up with tears and feeling very emotional, I don’t know why, but the last time this happened was the first time I ran marathon distance so who knows. I got to the A38 and crossed and gritted my teeth and started the horrible climb. Because the hill was soaked with run off, and not knowing if it wanted to freeze or run, made judging where to step very difficult, and when I crossed Dundry Lane, the rocky path was horrendous as the stream had frozen making it very difficult to climb; but of course I made it to the church on time still happy with my progress.

The next section is normally my pleasure and favourite, but today it nearly broke me, going over the airstrip was awful, and I stopped at the top of the big rocky descent and took some Ibuprofen for my legs.

As I made my way through the bottom fields by the river with the viaduct in view I thought my race was almost over as both my calves were burning up and my tendons felt like they would snap at any moment, and I took a seat on the bench and gave my legs an impromptu massage and ate some of my magic patties (Peanut butter and mashed banana sandwiches with the crusts cut off and cut into mouth size quarters for ease of eating on the move). I could feel the tablets and the massage starting to work and carried on still happy with my progress.

The next section went well and even the Woollard Bull was in another field, so I didn’t have to worry about him, and, before I knew it, I was at the Lock keeper and knew it was going well so gave myself a minute to text Gaveller and update Facebook and take a couple more tablets. My hydration was going well and I judged I would have enough to get me home, as we all know that the minute you lose the option to hydrate it’s all over. I had a 2ltr Camelbak and a Hydro belt with three 170ml bottles on it, one of which had sweet black coffee in it for those ”darker” moments, when a kick up the bum is needed and this I feel was one of my secret weapons on the day.

I made my way along the Dramway Path still moving well but I knew there was pain on its way in the form of Warmley Forest Park and Shortwood Hill, both notoriously wet and muddy, but I surprised myself by keeping an OK pace through them, even though it was near impossible to grip at all through Warmley. I must also take the chance to warn people that as you pass through the horse fields at the bottom of Shortwood there is an electric fence crossing the CFP and the only way to negotiate it is to hurdle it!!! On my reccie through there, I actually got a shock in my undercarriage. I made it to the top of Shortwood and texted Gaveller and he replied “It’s pretty much all downhill from the top” I knew this; but I was 39-40 miles in and tired but I looked at my Garmin and it was maybe 4 miles to destination, I was pumped and went around the quarry and past the fishing lakes picking up masses of mud on my shoes as I went; but then it was back on the road into Kendleshire Golf Club and I knew I was getting very close. Those who know this golf club know there is a little half way café on it and, as I ran past it, I saw the coke machine and coffee machine and wished so much that I had some loose change on me for a can of coke but not this time.

I walked up Park Road and dropped down onto the Frome Valley Footpath, which was so muddy I thought it was a conspiracy against me so close to the end; but as always I dug in and kept moving. I looked at my watch .35 to destination and I looked in the distance and saw Gaveller with camera in hand as I approached him I called out” I can’t stop Chris, I have to get to the car,” which was officially my finish point. In a surreal end to the day I could hear Gaveller running behind me to see me in and I saw my car and that was that.

I turned off the watches and stopped, opened the boot of the car and mixed a recovery shake and chatted with Chris and his wife for ten minutes. I explained my bad points, my nutrition and my amazing shoes and of course I negotiated an update Honourable order of Woodwoses certificate.

Chris commented on how well I looked considering what I had just done, and I can say now that I wouldn’t have wanted to, but I am sure I could have carried on running had it been needed.

In the past year I have come to love the CFP and more so the honourable order of Woodwose and I will share this one piece of advice to anyone that wants to attempt the challenge….. Train hard, research the route until you know it inside out and get your nutrition right, and like I did yesterday, you can also complete all 45 miles without support, and maybe, just maybe, you’ll want to do it again. One last thing, I have looked, and I am sure Gaveller will confirm, but I think I am now the 12th 0r 13th fastest Woodwose, not bad considering I was the slowest six months ago!

Hail all!

Neil Banwell

Knowledge is power

February 12, 2012

“Knowledge is power,” said Neil Banwell as he hacked 3 hours off his previous time for the Green Man Challenge. His effort of 9 hrs 25 mins also beat my time by 8 minutes. The secret is thorough preparation, going out to check out the route and replaying the route obsessively in his head to avoid any errors and making sure the nutrition was right. I am sure he will share the details, but I hear it includes peanut butter and banana sandwiches!

A Dire Warning from Neil Bryant

December 2, 2011

Hail Gaveller

 

I read about the CFP a couple of years ago and instantly felt the need to run it all. Time passed and my weekends were filled with races and other challenges. It wasn’t till I saw that there was to be a race on it that the idea was re-ignited. I checked my diary, but was sad to see that I already had a race on that same weekend. That was it I had to run it before the race!

A week later, with as good as zero planning, I was running in the dark up thedeer parkinAshton Courttowards the Green Man which to me was the only place to start. I met the Gaveller and was then off on my way. I believe that I had the speed for getting close to the record, but was quite aware that I really didn’t know the course so was expecting to get lost. An adventure was what I was after!

My first problem came quick when I was still in darkness. Shortly after passing through the two rocks, I entered into the field and before I knew it I had lost the trail and was in a marshland! I crawled under some barbed-wire and soon was back on track. As I approached the church at Dundry I was rewarded with a beautiful sunrise. The going was really muddy but lots of fun, and my progress was pretty good. The section beside the river was really nice and was helping me to decide that this would definitely be a new favourite long training run.

I passed through Keynsham before dropping onto the familiar river footpath, through the field next to the old Cadburys factory, then past the Willsbridge Mill. All completely stunning! Once I got onto the Dramway things got a little confused. After I passed overLondon RoadI lost the signs and confidence that I was travelling on the right path. When I hit a road, I felt pretty sure that I was in the wrong place.I travelled up the road to where I thought I should be and carried on and on running in confused circles, till I returned to the same point discovering that it was in fact the correct place (though I’m still not sure that I had got there in the correct way). I continued for a fair bit further without error, till I approached Lyde Green. I passed under the M4 on a road (it should have been a trail) then continued to get rather confused again! My girlfriend Louise rang me to tell me that she was close on her bicycle. After much running around she discovered me next to the Kendleshire Golf Course. She fed me a still warm pasty before saying goodbye as I entered the golf course back on track. It wasn’t till I was at the 44km point that confusion returned in a vengeance. I crossed over the M4 which I knew was wrong as I should have gone under it, then I followed along a footpath before passing back under the M4. Very lost again! I headed in the direction that seemed to be right and spotted a CFP sign! Back on track again, but not for long! Soon I was walking and trying to work out where I should be going with no joy. The really frustrating thing about this was that I knew where I was but didn’t know where the trail was! The importance of preparation!

After much bumbling around aimlessly Louise found me again and got me back on track in Bradley Stoke. I then was fortunate to have Louise’s company till I got into Aztec West where we had to split again. All went really well as I arrived in Easter Compton as it was getting pretty dark and came out a lane onto the road and there was Lou again! I kept moving back into the dark and switched my torch on. Everything was going well and even though I had made an incredible amount of errors, I was really enjoying myself and was feeling pretty strong. I climbed up Spaniorum hill with a steady run then down the fields the other side. It was really wet but my feet were ok. I had a little pause in Henbury, as I was a little unsure then was on my way again. When I entered the Blaise estate, it was pitch black and I had read about some people having troubles here. Oh dear! I couldn’t find the steps up and ended out on the road, then back in the woods on some exceptionally wet and sloppy trail. Lost but I knew I was going in the right direction! I ended up at some shops. Turned back and went back where I had just come from and soon found where I should have come out of the woods. I headed into the golf course, and from here to the end I had no problems! Amazing, I was really enjoying it.

As I got to theDownsI called the Gaveller and he said he’d meet me at the Green Man. As I was passing over the suspension bridge, Lou caught me up and we arrived at the Green Man together where the Gaveller was there to greet us.

So to conclude my adventure I’d just like to say that if you are considering taking on the fantastic challenge that is the Green Man, I would strongly urge you to not be as foolish as me and actually put some time into doing some recce work, get the correct maps and study them well beforehand. I will now recce the parts of the route that confused me, before trying it again and getting around without getting insanely lost.

Navigation

November 27, 2011

So – Neil Bryant has not beaten Martin Beale’s and Martin Indge’s record, inspite of having the stamina to do so as a Lands End to John o’Groats winner. The difference is in the navigational skills; but it also has something to do with the defects of strip maps. When I mooted doing strip maps in the manner of the Round Rotherham Race, Martin said that were more comforting than reliable. What he did when doing the Round Rotherham Race was to use the strip maps to work out the course on a standard OS map and then use that. By going through this process before the race, he could visualise the course in detail and more or less knew it by heart before he started. In this way he was able to out-navigate those who relied on the strip maps alone. The main problem with strip maps or any set of linear instructions is that once you get off track it is very difficult to get back on track as Neil discovered. (See http://connect.garmin.com/activity/131097594#) The time spent finding yourself is compounded by the way that uncertainty slows you down.

The first tranche of Woodwoses were all experienced mountain navigators, which means they had a lot of practice under their belts before they set out. Those of us without that experience probably need to reccie the route in stages or else do a lot of work with maps and satellite pictures beforehand. The alternative is to find a Woodwose or two to show you round.