Archive for the ‘trails’ Category

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.

 

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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

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.

Ultra Running?

October 27, 2011

Steve Worrallo and Ken Skivyer completed the Green Man Challenge on Tuesday 25th October in a time of 13 hours 52 minutes. While we are pleased to welcome two new Woodwoses, it is proper to reflect on how such a time would affect the organisation of a race over this course. The current record of 7 hours 20 mins is unlikely to survive for long under racing conditions, and experience suggests that a record of 6 hours is possible and a winning time of 6 hours 30 mins probable. That means that the organisers would have to have marshals in place for hours towards the end of the route or else impose a cut off time. What would that time be?

Latest from Ultra Running

October 14, 2011

Hi Guys, its Steve from Ultra Running, I was just trying to get into correspondence again with the Gaveller about our progress so far and came across the blog.

The last two weeks we have been been reccing the route and will be complete by Friday next week. We would produce our own directional information and mapping, in line with our other events.

The whole mysticism of the Green Man Challenge makes it very special indeed and we would like to follow in that tradition. We have reduced all our entry fees for this type of event down to £45.00 per head, and honestly this doesn’t make us great profits as we do put a lot into making our events happen and the correct running of them, insurances etc, bla, bla, bla.

But it is most important for us that whatever we do is supported and where possible tailored to fit the expectations of you guys also.

Our hope is to set the race for February 2012 and make live for entries possibly this month. What we call it and how we advertise it would be in prior agreement with the Gaveller.

You can check out our web-site at http://www.ultrarunning.uk.com
We are waiting for logo designs for all our events, following which the site will be redesigned and will then look much better, so please bear with us.

Steve Worrallo
Ultra Running Limited

Woodwose XLV – in retrospect

August 7, 2011

It’s over. 11hr59’37. 23 under – plenty, in the end [**]. Jordan’s number. Gate’s still locked. No Chris. Text him – record the time

And it began 12 hours ago, in the rain with Chris Bloor and Neil Banwell, Green Man visible through the locked deer park gate, at Ashton Court

Finished a few minutes ago. Feel ok, a bit thirsty. Lovely evening …||… Finished 20min ago. Back at car. Raging thirst. Trying to ignore it. Can’t wait much longer for Chris  …||…  Finished 30min ago. Chris has snacks, but I don’t feel like swallowing, and spit them out. Is he interested in today’s events, or just trying to gauge my
state? – doesn’t matter. Can tell I’m slurring, and stomach keeps cramping. Will get worse staying here – need to get home

Or did it begin in February, with a conversation during Moti’s Green Man attempt?

Been home an hour or so. Had a cup of tea, shower and pizza, and feeling fine. Think I’ll stay in though

Actually, I meant to do the Green Man Challenge in 2010, but instead had to address the possibility of permanent running retirement. And I’d been asking Moti about it for a couple of years before that, to apparent disinterest, since Chris’s talk/run at their “Off-Road Day”. Moti and its staff were a key reason I began running though, opening in Bristol as I was reading Karnazes’ book, and for a long time I’d labelled the Green Man Challenge as both a physical and group event

It’s afternoon and the sun’s out. Only aware of distance and time in a very general sense. Neil’s gone [***], and the navigation’s feeling more natural, so I’m mostly ‘in the moment’, with the surroundings and some passing thoughts. The city’s noise enfolds me, changing with location and time of day. Why do so many runners block this out?

“Forest of Avon” still seems largely an oxymoron, but a great statement of intent. Oddly, the sense of ‘treeness’ and greenery has actually felt stronger where it’s more unexpected, following a narrow green corridor, entwined with the built environment, and I’ve enjoyed those sections. Today’s early (rural) stages I did with Moti in February : more attractive now, though long grass and nettles/brambles made it harder work, but their ‘familiarity’ (despite wrong turns) made them less interesting than others

When you see a bridge over a familiar motorway – a 4/6-lane slice of an orthogonal world – do you wonder who uses it, and what’s beyond each end? I just crossed one of those over M5, (after smacking my shin on a “cycle trap” – won’t forget what that is, nor “kg”). I’m in that world and I’m reminded for the nth time today of Will Self’s psychogeography pieces (which I didn’t really ‘get’) and hazy fragments of a radio programme about “A Walk Around the M25” [Iain Sinclair]. This is more what the Challenge has become about for me over the past year: discovery, identity, and a greater sense of the place I choose to live, not bound by predictable routes and views …though it is still coloured by others’ bias, with their choice of significant landmarks (in instructions and maps). Today is about the journey, not the destination (time) …which is apposite, given its circularity

Very aware of the cutoff now. Missing instructions – but got to Blaise.
Time tight – but think surprises are over. Terrain unfamiliar – tracklog a
simple shape. “Middle path” downhill too far left? Tracklog different?
Trust the instructions. No forks to work me right. Up&down the side slope,
versus fallen trees and brambles. Always can’t-quite-force-my-way-through
thick hedge at the top. Wasting time. Tumbling, sliding, mud all up my
back. Had to get out, quickly, anywhere. And here I am. Back on pavement
and in sight of the proper exit. Ready for a last effort

It’s not about a goal that’s worth the pain – it’s reaching a level of pain that makes the goal worthy” — Rich Roll

Nearly finished. Having to push hard [**], today’s fastest miles, HR over 160. Can’t stop taking walk breaks though – central governor or MTFU? Heh – channelled some G, there. You’ve got yourself back in a position to do this – failure is simply your choice. This cutoff does matter. The goal will be worthy. It’s uphill. Need a little cushion –
may have to dodge traffic at the top. Wonder if Chris is there

Finished yesterday. Knees are a bit tender down steep hills, but nothing like the soreness I get after a marathon at full pace, nor even a half.
The bike GPS I carried yesterday won’t divulge even the part that I got it working for, so at the moment my only record is the overall time and splits for the first 12 miles. A bit disappointing …but also fitting, in a good way

Finished just over a week ago. First post-Challenge run was this evening and sense of pace was a bit distorted. Still have remnants of the cold, but need to start main training bloc now. Then off-road training this winter, for next year’s X-Man, so maybe help some friends take on the Green Man

I don’t think it’s over

PS.
[** : Re-reading the rules, after writing this, I see various
definitions have changed. I actually had an extra 12 hours, or a few
hours to sunset. But it may not have been classified as a run]

[*** : Half way, with an injury. Great effort]

An XL-Ent Report

April 26, 2011

Just a quick report following my effort on Sunday to become a Woodwose. Having done most of my recce runs during the winter I was looking forward to a dry spell to dry out some of the route and we certainly got that this Easter.
I’m based in Winterbourne just 5 mins away from where the route meets the Frome valley walkway so this is where I would start & finish my attempt.
I started nice & early at 7 whilst it was still cool and being Easter Sunday it would be fairly quiet on the roads. I flew through Hambrook, Bradley Stoke & Patchway at a good pace with no dramas until Easter Compton when I almost stepped out into a speeding car – it nearly got me! Then through the churchyard with the first hill of the day in front of me – all going well.
Picked up the pace again heading into Henbury & onto Blaise Castle The sun was starting to break through the clouds & I was already regretting not having my shades with me. A nice section heading down the hill, through the golf course & no golfers – like it. Into Sea Mills & onwards & upwards towards the Clifton Downs, along the Promenade across the bridge & into Ashton Court; tipped my hat towards the Greenman & headed off towards Dundry Hill.
Dundry proved to be a toughy. For me it was the hardest section, I’d done over 20 miles and was starting to feel it.
I enjoyed the next section with no dramas until Pensford, when I took a left at the Rising Sun by mistake & headed up the wrong road retraced my steps only to find someone was building a house on the footpath & hadn’t rerouted the path, some chap pointed towards a diversion through an allotment (to the left of the building site).
My favourite moment would have to be running down a wooded section with the bluebells out in force just before you get to Compton Dando, I do also love running alongside the river here before you get to Keynsham.
The last 10 miles or so was becoming a slog. The Bath Path towards Warmley was heavy with bike traffic & I ran out of fluid with 5 miles to go & it was getting very warm. It was a huge relief to be heading into the Kendleshire Golf Course (determined to get this bit right) then over Badminton Rd & I could see the viaduct where I had started that morning, over the last stile then down to the river & collapse.
45.8 miles showing on the Garmin in an unbelievable time of 7hrs 55mins & 13 secs.
Until the next time.

Clive (Woodwose XL)

Luke’s Green Man Challenge Report

March 3, 2011

Here’s my report about taking on the Green Man Challenge on Sunday 27th February 2011. Warning: It’s very long!!!

Much of what I’ve written is rather more factual than those of some other Woodwoses because this my attempt to document my personal experience in the hope that it may be of some help or encouragement to others thinking of putting themselves forward.

Before I go into the background and preparation for the Green Man, I would like to give some very special thanks.

Firstly to Chris Bloor, who is the Father of the Green Man Challenge, provides encouragement and enthusiasm about the challenge and who very kindly transported me to and from the start line (and provided tea at Blaise Castle).

I’d also like to thank Ian Ruck and Antony Clark for accompanying me from Ashton Court to Shortwood Hill. Their good company helped make the first half pass by relatively quickly.

Thanks to Ruth (Ian’s wife), who not only got out of bed early on a Sunday morning to transport Ian and Antony to the start, but was there at Shortwood hill with my drop bag, a deck chair (which I was too scared to use) and a wonderful smile.

Finally, I really, really want to thank Jonathan Gledson. Jonathan helped me round the whole of the second half of the course – putting up with my dwindling sense of humour, carrying sodden, mud soaked trail shoes and letting me raid his rucksack for snacks and drink.

OK, now a little about the background and preparation…

The Green Man Challenge was something that I quickly got to know about after joining TACH in about September 2009. I had originally planned to run the challenge in March 2010, but was prevented through a back injury which kept me out of running for the whole Summer.

Some of the reasons to attempt the Green Man Challenge were in part the distance – a proper Ultra distance but nevertheless not too daunting, and also because it is a personal challenge rather than a race. However, the main reason is that it has been a wonderful chance to connect with the countryside which bounds our city (we are so very lucky to have such wonderful countryside, so close by).

My preparation was based upon the following principles:
Don’t use any fixed training plan as the challenge could be attempted at any time
Specificity – The course is long, reasonably flat and quite uneven under foot. I needed to prepare accordingly
Always remember, it’s often the lack of recovery that causes injury rather than over training, and so always prioritise recovery over more training. Similarly, I read somewhere “Those that under-train will always finish. Those that over-train never get to the start line”
Judge long runs by ‘time on your feet’ rather than distance

Using the above principles, my training generally fitted the following pattern:
Long run every 1-2 weeks (building from 2-6 hours)
TACH training runs on Thursdays
Some treadmill intervals (to strengthen legs)
Core and upper body gym work
The treadmill sessions were pretty sporadic due to the combination of work commitments and recovering from the Sunday long runs. And looking back, I think I could have made more use of some of the very short ‘free’ runs that often present themselves if one puts ones mind to it. Like, for example, running over to where the swimming pool is for a family swim rather than going in the car.

A week in advance of the challenge, I completely abstained from alcohol and caffeine. The caffeine abstention was intended to give my body time to become more sensitised again to caffeine, such that when I really needed a lift, a caffeine hit would keep me going.

Also, on the Wednesday before the run I subjected myself to the pain of a thorough leg, hip and back sports massage.

My nutrition plan was to take just Hammer Perpetuem (in a sweet, gloopy mixture) and water (with Nuun) for the first half, and then move onto solid food in the form of homemade choc-chip and banana bread, muesli bars and finally caffeinated gels.

Finally, in terms of preparation, my strategy for the run was simple – run at a very easy pace on the flat and downhills, speed march any up hills or when other walk breaks were required, and try to limit the time taken at any stops.

So to challenge day…

I got up about 5:45am to give me plenty of time for a good big breakfast (muesli, yogurt, honey and toast), lots of water to drink and time to digest.

Chris picked me up at 7:40am and we met Antony and Ian at the Green Man in Ashton Court in good time for an 8am start. Any thoughts of nervousness were dispelled as our conversation strangely veered onto the relative merits of Deadly 60 and Horrible Histories, against the ever so slightly surreal Chugginton.

The off:

The first leg up to Dundry followed by legs 2 and 3 to Pensford and Keynsham were all pretty straight-forward. Although, by Keynsham I was beginning to feel a slowly worsening twinge in my right knee. I swapped socks here as my original ones were in a pretty sorry state, and I could feel a few large pieces of grit irritating the soles of my feet.

At Keynsham with the old Cadbury’s factory in the background

Throughout the whole course the going underfoot was varied – some good, some wet and boggy, and some sticky.

Leg 4 to Shortwood Hill progressed quite well, although I was beginning to feel a bit tired and my knee was still sore. Thankfully, Ian and Antony were good company which helped a lot, and also, Antony’s superior knowledge of the course proved invaluable on several occasions.

At Shortwood Hill, Ian’s wife Ruth was waiting with my drop bag. I refuelled with more Perpetuem and extra water, and departed with Jonathan as my support for the remainder of the race. Jonathan kindly carried a spare set of road trainers for me in his rucksack.

The next leg from Shortwood Hill to the White Horse at Hambrook was one of the hardest for me. I was beginning to feel really tired by now, and my knee was still pretty sore. So, as soon as we got to the end of the leg, I used the opportunity to take a couple of ibuprofen and caffeine tablets. Within 20 mins of the next leg (no. 6 to Patchway) I was in much finer fettle.

Jonathan was proving to be the ideal support, helping with gates and providing encouragement.

At Patchway, I had run out of fluid, and Jonathan kindly gave me a spare bottle he had of Lucozade Sport which turned out to be a welcome change for my palette which was getting sick of the over sweet Perpetuem.

I really enjoyed the route from Patchway to Blaise, the terrain is very mixed, with the contrast between the boggy flat land around Easter Compton and the views from on top of Spanorium Hill.

Just before Blaise Castle, I changed socks again and also moved to road trainers. I was surprised how heavy my trail shoes had got – they were caked in mud.

At Blaise we were met by Chris, this time with a very welcome cup of tea. I took a little more time at this stop, and had another couple of caffeine tablets, in preparation for the final 10k back to the Green Man.

As one can imagine, this final stretch was the hardest. By now my legs were pretty much spent. I suggested that perhaps Jonathan and I could swap legs, but he didn’t like the look of what he was going to get in return.

There were a lot more short walk breaks now as I could feel my hamstrings cramping. But I knew I would finish, so my spirits were high even if my body was a bit broken.

It was wonderful to see Chris and Ian at the Green Man. As you might expect, I felt rather emotional.

At the finish:

I believe that the Green Man Challenge is the embodiment of TACH, Bristol, and most importantly, the passion Chris Bloor has for connecting people with the countryside. I wholeheartedly encourage anyone who reads this to consider taking on the challenge in some form (run, walk, relay, one leg at a time, etc.).

Luke Taylor – Woodwose XXXVIII
(Green Man Challenge, 8hrs 31mins, Sunday 27 February 2011)

A letter from Wai Chan

February 22, 2011

Hi Giles,
A huge congratualtions and thanks to all those involved in organising and running the Green Man Challenge on the weekend. I thought the challenge itself was hugely novel, not often you get the chance to enter an off road ultra on your doorstep. The amount of off road running was great, very few bits of tarmac let alone road running which meant my joints were no-where near as sore as what they should be. The wet ground and mud only served to add to the entertainment and aura, the minor downside is the number of gates and stiles but that’s the nature of the beast to some extent (nice to get a rest too!).  Given it was a free event, I was astounded by the level of support Moti, Salomon, Gore and volunteers provided during the whole event – it put the Bristol/Bath entrance fees to shame. The trial gear offered at the start and at Hambrook were very welcome and the number of support stops in general was spot on. I thought the group leads did a tremendous job in pace and navigation especially once the runners settled down.  I really
can’t think of any improvements to the day.

To sum it all up, Fantastic job, really enjoyed it, can’t give enough praise to all involved in organising the challenge. Big thanks to Martin B for dragging us round!!!

Cheers
Wai

Some messages from New Woodwoses

February 22, 2011
Dear Chris,
 
thanks so much for coming up with such a great idea and accompanying some of us around for a leg of the trip.  All the help from everyone was really appreciated – with [OUT]  it (see comment!), there is no way that I could have done the 45 miles.
 
I very much enjoyed your commentary on the various sights as we pottered around and will keep my eyes peeled for wild chives in the future,
 
best wishes
 
Vassili
Message to the Gaveller

I would like to thank all the team for an excellent venue …’Green-Man Challenge’ …. Not knowing what I was letting myself face, the support and guidance was excellent …..fab training…… So please thank Giles for his welcoming and Martin for keeping me well focused till the end…. ‘for any ultra-runner I will recommend you highly….!!! I have done a lot of distance running, and turning 52yrs this year, I must say your 45miler route is one I can say ‘My favourite’….!!! I thank Phillip Howells who brought me on a raining Sat Morning (early start) !!!! Yesterday I had a phone call……. Requesting me to be part of the ladies team of three to run for ‘England’ in the ‘Celtic-Plate-100k’ in Perth (Scotland) March 27th.. So you certainly helped with my training. Angie Sadler