David Barrett reports…..
A quick report on last Saturday’s Green Man Ultra (45 miles). For those unfamiliar with this race it follows an anticlockwise circumferential route around Bristol on the Community Forest Path, starting and finishing this year at Ashton Court Mansion house. http://www.ultrarunningltd.co.uk/green-man-ultra.html
This is the 3rd year I’ve undertaken the race and one of many ultras I’ve tackled in recent years both North and South of the Scottish Border. At 45 miles it’s nowhere near the longest race I’ve attempted, but the route is interesting with some great views across Bristol and starting and finishing at the same place is a bonus. I’d recommend it to anyone in the club considering stepping up from marathons to off road ultras.
We started at 08:00, running en masse through the parkland towards Long Ashton. The numbers at the start made pacing difficult as there were a number of bottle necks as people tried to negotiate the never ending ‘kissing gates’ and stiles. Eventually after the high point of the route around 6 miles in I found myself free to run at my own pace and reached the first checkpoint at Norton Malreward Village Hall in 1hr 31 min (9 miles); not fast but I knew we had a long way to go. After some malt loaf and a drink I was off to CP2 at the Brass Mill Pub in Keynsham where those doing the shorter 30 mile route were scheduled to start at 11:00. My aim was thus to get through that CP without getting tangled up in the shorter race. I was away from there by about 10:40 and got about 2 miles ahead of the now chasing pack of runners on fresh legs. Running with some of those guys later in the day kept me motivated. The weather was good, and I knew my way, so despite others complaining bitterly about the very wet underfoot conditions I was finding the going good and making progress through the field thanks to my trusted and much loved Speedcross 3 shoes.
By CP3 after about 30 miles I was told I was an hour behind the leaders. The surprise for me was that I was that close to them! I had a decent meal of sandwiches, nuts and cake and headed on with two GU gels for later. To my surprise I was feeling strong and still able to run strongly when the conditions allowed and now I was passing runners, picking them off one by one. Even the 30 mile race runners weren’t catching me! After a quick cake stop at CP4 (Blaise Castle), it was a push for home into Bristol, over the Downs and the Suspension Bridge and a dash to the Mansion House. As I ran across the Downs I calculated I could get sub-8 hrs 30 mins, and I did that on my own watch, but despite being told it was chip timed they used the gun start time so my official finish was 8:30:28 which placed me as 27th Man and 29th overall out of 237 finishers. I believe I was also the 3rd MV50. A first-50 finishers medal, certificate and a picture for the all-time top 100 hall of fame followed.
My previous best time was 10 hrs 56 min. I started the day thinking sub-10 would be good and knocked 2 hrs 25 mins off my PB! Now I wish I’d pushed harder in the first 30 miles, but by any stretch this has to be classed as a good day out I think. The complementary hot plate of chilli and rice made it well worth it.