Vernal Equinox 2010

And so it came to pass that Admiral Down, Dr Dodd, Captain Bisco, Wing Commander Leith, Professor Mumford and the Reverend Edwards sought permission from the Universe to undertake the Green Man Challenge.  

The six runners each brought something to the party.  Admiral Down says B*ll*cks To The Rules. Dr Dodd will do anything that appears dangerous, and will mostly do it hungover. Captain Bisco, more of a pirate captain really, will dance over the earth with a following wind. Wing Commander Leith, or Junior, knows not what he does but tends to do it rather fast. Professor Mumford provides the solid granite base and may be considered a Sage.  The Rev Edwards, well, he likes to put these people together and observe the fun from a little way back.

Standing on the shoulders of Giants is a speciality of Edwards, so much advice and preamble was required before the commencement of the challenge.   The Gaveller and Harrison Failand-Ford/Admiral Down provided the required guidance and steerage. A series of chilly, occasionally wet-freezing, reconnaissance runs occurred over the Christmas and New year period giving us some confidence for the route, and a healthy respect both for the task in hand and for the restorative properties of tea and cake.

As seems the way with all things of mystery, the available challenge date turned out to be the Vernal (spring) Equinox.  A more auspicious day could not have been chosen;  someone was on our side already. A short calculation of approximate run time and moment of equinox gave us a 7am start from the Green Man, in order to return whence we came in good time for the proper marking of the start of spring.   A short time spent in researching ‘proper marking of the start of spring’ revealed the sock-burning festivities of the people of Maryland.  Once more the poetic became real and, in the way of all ceremonies, we decided to steal what we wanted and, in the right spirit, adopt it as our own.

To help create the full experience, the runners, The Gaveller and Mrs Gaveller (The Gavelless?) assembled at the Green Man on pre-run night for a commune with each other, with the Green Man, and with nature.  A jumble of rites were offered up amongst the wind, the trees and the earth. Dr Dodd learnt that running with trousers round your ankles is not fast.  The Gavelless learnt to keep her eyes tight shut.  The rest of us learnt that magic, fun and the good are available right here and right now just waiting to be touched.

Challenge day was wet, somewhat windy and in the way of Winnie the Pooh, therefore a most appropriate morning for an expoitition.  Provisions there were.  Fortunately for the six challengers, a bevy of fragrant running maidens had generously made themselves available (Only, to our eternal regret, as company for the first stage of the run to Keynsham).  Things were looking up.  We were also fortunate to have the company of the Gaveller’s nominated TACH supporter, who did an excellent job of gate opening and closing, assisting with route finding and bouncing about.

Our support crew – the tremendous Mrs Bisco, of whom more later – was also there to see us off, along with the ever-present Gaveller who may or may not have been up a tree all night howling at the moon and formulating such plans as he wishes.  Dr Dodd and Admiral Down were already out and running, having opted for an earlier start, giving them additional time and opportunity for cementing their love/hate relationship.

The first 3 hours to Keynsham set the tone for the day: steady running, walking on anything looking vaguely steep, having a good chat and eating and drinking.  Short stops at Dundry and Pensford for re-supply, and off into the misty trees.    By the time Keynsham came into view it was definitely perceived as a metropolis, nefariously being infiltrated by a gaggle of Wildmen and Wildwomen of the Woods.  At the Lockkeeper we parted from the Wildwomen and grabbed lovely coffee and Wotnot from Mrs Bisco who’s big smile sent us Whoosing off in the approximate direction of Winterbourne (or somewhere round there).

By the time we reached the White Horse at Hambrook, it had started to feel possible that we might in fact all survive the day.  The weather had dried quite nicely and we were feeling good.  Once again our Gaveller-Knight was present with encouragement and a very welcome offer to guide us through Savage’s Wood and Bradley Stoke.  This was perhaps the most difficult part of the day, with a relentless and largely flat hard surface, running through perhaps the Biggest Housing Estate In The World.  Fortunately it was soon over and, with one more stop and a quick passing of the Redbull Chalice of Destiny and the appropriate application of Vaseline we were off again, over the M5 and onwards towards Hallen.  We were here met by Woodwose XVII who had kindly run out to meet us and escort us home.

The final section of the run was now upon us and towards the back of Henbury the Dr and the Admiral came into view, still just about on speaking terms and trotting along nicely.  By this time, a change in pace in any direction could have been an issue for either group, so each carried on in their running armchair towards the finish.  At Blaize Castle a final opportunity for fuel presented itself, as did our final company for the day – a delightful young lady dressed as a chicken, and her equally friendly fellow.  What wonders there are.  The rain had now arrived and so a short Neuro-Linguistic Programming blessing was unleashed by Rev Edwards, which combined with the rain gave us a 7 minute mile onwards to the edge of Shirehampton.  Across the golf course, through Sea Mills (further chocolate supply here from Professor McGaul) and onto the much-anticipated climb up Mariner’s Walk to Bristol Downs, which turned out to be not so bad after all.

Across the downs and to the Suspension Bridge, things were really now starting to become dream- like and sore at the same time.  The final route diversion to the edge of Leigh Woods and into the Timberland trail in Ashton Court was, I think I speak collectively, a mix of elation and pain as the end came closer and further away at the same time.   A floaty final half mile and we were back at the end of our circle, 46 miles and 8 hours, 21 minutes since the start.   The Admiral and the Dr arrived slightly separately – at least two sword’s length apart, just like a real married couple  – and proper humour was restored immediately on finishing. 

Big Big Big Smiles.

As any superb cake knows, one is not complete without icing and the Gaveller provided this by facilitating the final sock burning ceremony.  Dramatic flaming polyester we could not claim, but fire was definitely visible and the equinox and the end of our Green Man Challenge was we feel suitably marked.

A Bytfylling on the day after in the noisy Old Porter Stores and the Very Quiet Green Man at Kingsdown and we could regard the challenge as complete.

Humble thanks are due to:

The Gaveller

The Gavelless

Mrs Bisco

Woodwights Bradbrook, Russell and Greenfield for their fragrant company.  The chicken.  The chicken’s chap.  Our two supporting runners, including Woodwose XVII

Professor McGaul for chocolate.

And finally, the Green Man for his inspiration, protection and continuing presence in our lives.

Woodwose XVIII and Wistman Rev Edwards

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2 Responses to “Vernal Equinox 2010”

  1. Neil Banwell Says:

    Finally got around to reading this, Amazing writing. loved it.

  2. gaveller Says:

    The BAD Tri boys are indeed good value!

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