Woodwose XVI’s Report

Antony Turtle Clark
Green Man Challenge Report – 6th March 2010

A minute to seven on Saturday morning and I got an unexpected phone call from the Gaveller.  I’m due to start the Green Man Challenge at 7am and he rang from the start line outside St Mary Magdelene Church on Mariners Walk to find out where I was.  I was putting on my shoes at home at the time but luckily live just round the corner and was able to trot over to the church in a couple of minutes.  It was nice of the Gaveller to come and see me off and even nicer of him to lend me his GPS watch to use during the day.  We waited for it to locate the satellites hovering over Bristol and, at 7:08am, I was off.

I was on my own for the first eight miles and gave the Green Man a friendly slap on the chops as I ran past, making good time up to Dundry across frost laden fields.  Fellow TACH runner Joe met me there and I dumped my gilet in the boot of his car before we headed off to Pensford together.  Joe was good company and it turns out he is keen to tackle the Green Man Challenge himself later in the year.

I was still ahead of schedule when we arrived at Pensford where we were met by Rob, Jo and baby Arthur.  They were in good form and Rob was looking forward to the Grizzly the following day.  Joe ran back to Dundry from here and I continued alone to Keynsham.  I started to get quite cold on this section and, although I was still well short of half way, I took a turn for the worse and started to feel sick.  I was running in base layer and club vest and seriously regretted leaving my gilet in Joe’s car at Dundry.  There was nothing I could do about it now but put on hat and gloves and push on as best I could.

Jan was waiting for me with Susie and Catie, our two year old twins, in a playground fifty yards off the route in Keynsham and seeing them lifted my spirits.  I picked up a spare waterproof jacket and more food and water and, after fifteen minutes being Dad, I was off again.  Jan reports that I had turned grey at this stage of the challenge and the photos she took of me show what looks like a zombie having an off day.

The sick chilled feeling in my gut didn’t improve over the next section and I was pleased to see the Gaveller waving from the top of a stile as I approached the Shortwood Hill checkpoint.  Libby was there too and after a quick hello, Gaveller and I were off.  The Gaveller was very understanding of my plight and attempted to take my mind off it with interesting conversation.  This kept veering back to chives which he pointed out were growing in abundance alongside the path (he later even munched on some).

I was still not great and had to do some walking but my mood improved at the next stop at Hambrook:

  • Jan was there with Susie and Catie and seeing them really cheered me up;
  • I dumped the 2 litre water bladder I had been carrying since the start and picked up a hand held 500ml bottle instead.  The bladder had fitted inside a large bumbag which was, with hindsight, probably a major contributor to my stomach ache.  As soon as I removed the heavy water bladder and was able to loosen the bumbag I felt instantly better.
  • I was now 30 miles into the route with only 15 to go.  I was nearly there really.

I was not much faster to Patchway where Jan and the twins were waiting again but felt much happier (all things considered).  The Gaveller was still with me (he ran with me 20 miles in total) but there was no sign of Luke who was due to meet me there.  I had talked with Luke a couple of times during the afternoon and he was having childcare issues so it was not entirely unexpected.  Anyway, the Gaveller and I decided not to wait for him and pushed on.

I felt great now (all things considered) and was able to speed up a bit.  Spanorium Hill rewarded the climb with great views of the Severn bridges from the top.  Still no sign of Luke and a phone call from him reveals that he’s taken an unplanned detour to Cribbs Causeway.  I hand the phone to the Gaveller who directs him back on track.

I was still having lots of fun (all things considered) and we don’t wait for Jan at Blaise Castle – she’s only a few minutes away as we cross the car park but we only have three miles to go and I’m keen to finish.

As we run along Kings Weston Hill we learn that Luke is two minutes behind and it takes our mind off the running as Gaveller and I speculate about when he’s going to catch us up.  We keep looking behind us as we run down the side of Shirehampton Park Golf Club but there’s no sign of him.  As we cross Sylvian Way he suddenly appears beside us as if by magic!  He saw us running down the golf course and decided to shoot down the road that runs parallel to it to make up time.  It’s great to have him along and I almost forget that I’m a tad pooped in all the excitement.

Before you know it Gaveller, Luke and I are on Mariners Walk and back at the start.  It’s great to be welcomed by my family and good friends: Jan and the twins; Libby; Joe and Claire as well as Mark Vogan (Woodwose 2) and Sarah who happened to be in Bristol this weekend.  Mark and I are running the Highlander Mountain Marathon together next month and this has been a useful bit of training for that.

Many thanks to everyone who supported me, especially Jan for being so understanding about it all the training and the boring conversations about route and to the Gaveller who saw me through the worst of times.  Thanks also to the people who very kindly offered their help the previous weekend when I had originally planned to run it.  I postponed it at the last minute due to a cold and ended up running it on Grizzly weekend when lots of people were away.

Total distance covered was 45.18 miles in a time of 10hrs 31mins.  Maybe one day I’ll run it again but without the chills, sickness and blistered toes.  I’m nearly looking forward to it already.  Just don’t tell Jan.

One Response to “Woodwose XVI’s Report”

  1. Antony Clark Says:

    With the benefit of hindsight I can see that the stomach ache and sick feeling I suffered during the run could well have been caused by undiagnosed coeliac disease – I had done lots of pasta carbo loading the day before my challenge attempt.

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