The Green Man ultra is a 45 mile lap around Bristol. This was to be a new challenge as I was part of the team trying to ensure a smoothly ran race. My role was simply to run the course in 11 hours, a Time Lord, whilst guiding and encouraging anyone who wanted to join me. On arrival I found that the 10 runner had requested a swap, and I was the lucky one now having to review my pacing strategy! We were all introduced during the race brief, so I expected maybe 2 or 3 wishing to trust me. I’d never seen the course and have never officially paced more than a marathon! So armed with my race watch, I headed to the start only to find 10 or so runners wanting my assistance. Now the pressure was on!
The race began and the first mile was way off target. The number of runners and a series of stiles and gates meant my group were separated and already 9 minutes behind. With a bit of effort, we were soon back on track and almost averaging the pace we needed. Our group was now reduced to 8 after that and we dropped in more walking to keep the average where we needed too. But the terrain was a bog fest with a few hills, so pace consistency was a problem.
CP’s 1 and 2 came and went with no hindrance, but CP3 was a nightmare! On arrival after 27 miles of solid pacing, we found the CP to be extremely busy as there were already 20 or more runners still grazing the food supplies or queuing for water refills. The CP took forever to get through and we were once again behind schedule.
The day was mostly clear and sunny, so whilst I thought I was drinking enough, the issue of dehydration raised it’s ugly head. This is a problem I’ve encountered quite a bit, but it was a real struggle today. I couldn’t pee or be sick, so my stomach was in a bad way. To add to this, I began worrying about the late departure from the CP and my responsibility as pacer. The runners with me were great and something quite different to those running big city races. They didn’t really care about the 10 hour target, but just wanted to get around without getting lost. They helped me through a dark spell between 36 and 40 miles, making sure I was eating, drinking and still conscious enough to guide them. Amazing runners! 🙂
With 4 miles to go, we picked up the pace for one last push. Finishing the race with a lovely down hill, we crossed the line in around 10:13. Seeing my gang of runners all smiling was the perfect end to a tough day. Plenty learned ready for my next appearance as a race day Time Lord! 🙂
Race Report by Dave Fawkner