A to Z of Woodwoses

November 5, 2013

I have just added a new page – the A to Z of the Honourable Order of Woodwoses. Are you in it?

I have found some pictures to add in, but I have not been able to find pictures of female Woodwoses that I can download.  Can you help?

Current Woodwose Records

March 24, 2013

Darryl Carter has smashed the 7 hour barrier with a run of 6 hours 35 minutes on the Green Man Ultra version of the Challenge on 2nd March 2013.

Ten people have now completed the challenge between 8 hours and 7 hours – Martin Beale and Martin Indge doing so twice. Zoltan Lesi’s dog Runy accompanied his master in a run of 7 hours 48 mins. Alex Foster of TACH broke the 8 hour barrier after three previous completions including one at night.

Lynette Porter finished just outside 8 hours in 8 hours 3 mins on a course that finished rather further on than the previous year. So she should probably be credited with the first run under 8 hours by a woman – which goes to show how artificial these numbers are. She is undoubtedly the quickest female Woodwose so far.

24 Woodwoses have now completed the challenge between 8 and 9 hours, including Lynette and the previous female record holder Liz Wiggins. 14 other women have completed the course: 6 between 9 and 10 hours, 3 between 10 and 11 hours and 2 between 11 and 12 hours. Sarah Sweeting has now completed the course three times with Rob Dickson, including one at night. 4 women have completed in over 12 hours, which technically counts as a walk – especially since Rob “Strider” Burrows completed in 11 hours 35 mins on 24th April without breaking into a run during the entire circuit. Rin’dzin Pamo completed the course in Vibram 5 fingers in 11 hours 25 mins in September 2011 – the only “barefoot” completion so far as I know.

47 people have completed in between 9 and 10 hours, including I, the Gaveller, in 9 hours 33 mins. 44 people have completed in a quicker time than the Gaveller, including 2 women and a dog. Of the 6 women in this category, 2 are from TACH.

37 people finished between 10 and 11 hours + one dog (that I know about), and 13 between 11 and 12 hours.

The 21 who finished in over 12 hours are technically walking Woodwoses, although Rob Burrows has proved that it is possible to walk the course in less than 12 hours.


Ton Up!

March 23, 2013

I have at long last got round to adding the new Woodwoses to the online version of the Forestal Book of the Honourable Order of Woodwoses. The number is well past the hundred mark – I make it 140. However that may include duplicates. Please let me know if you spot any! Now for the Records page!

Banana Bridge Warning

October 7, 2012
Just discovered that the Banana Bridge over the M5 between Patchway and Pegwell Brake has been closed. It is due to be taken down and replaced. They have allowed themselves 6 months, but reckon it ought to take 10 weeks.

The alternative route is via Junction 16 where the A38 goes under the M5 to pick up a footpath on the northwest side of the roundabout. The path has been cleared by the S. Glos PROW team and is pleasant enough (although it could do with some waymarks.) It rejoins the CFP in Pegwell Brake.

It doing the challenge moonwise, It may be best to keep straight on alongside Bradley Stoke Way to the Aztec West roundabout instead of going over the Primrose Bridge. Not sure which is the best way to negotiate the traffic at this point. It may be best to keep on the east side of the A38 till after Junction 16. But it remains dodgy. Be careful.

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!


October 2, 2012

Woodwose LXXXIV, Neil Bryant has now completed 44 continuous days of running and is now in Spain having run through Denmark, Germany and France. He is due to reach the border with Gibraltar in 20 days time.

You can follow his progress on http://www.transeurope-footrace.org and also on his blog at http://www.ultrarunninglife.com/ 

It is an awesome enterprise.


October 2, 2012



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

Neil Bryant

September 4, 2012

I have just realised what Woodwose lxxxiv, Neil Bryant is up to. I noticed he he had been posting something on Facebook for some time, so I thought I’d better read it properly as he is on day 17. It turns out he is involved in a 4000km cross Europe race that is due to take 64 days. He is the youngest competitor (born 1975) and is currently in eleventh place. It looks as if they are doing something like a Green Man Challenge every day!


The View from the Front by Darryl Carter

March 13, 2012


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


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.