Race Review – Green Man Ultra 30 (The Green Boy)

6 days after the Loch Ness Marathon I found myself standing at the start of GMU 30, the Green Man Ultra (you know, the one in Ira’s book)’s little brother The Green Boy in a pub car park in Keynsham. It was 11am and I realised that the shit that had happened in the year, the sickness and the injuries were just tests. And despite getting low, feeling defeated you get over all the obstacles. And this, a self-nav 30 mile ultra (yes, I had bungled down from the 45) was just another test. And on it I would be joined by one of the greatest people I have met on my running journey, the table dancing sweetheart, young Keith Miller @teef2….

Read the full review HERE

Posted by in General

Changes for 2019 – GMU Buckles!

Coming in 2019 – The GMU in March is being re-branded The Winter GMU and we are adding another permanent race to the calendar – the Autumn GMU in September. Completion of both events in the same year will entitle you to the GMU Buckle – and it doesn’t stop there! There will be a series of four buckles available, dependent on you accumulative finishing time. The March event is always guaranteed to provide muddy and wet conditions, and the Autumn event should be much drier and faster. To add to the experience, the September event will be run in reverse!

Posted by in General
Jon Tofts – Green Man Ultra 30 mile ultramarathon

Jon Tofts – Green Man Ultra 30 mile ultramarathon

Jon Tofts lives in Taunton, UK. On March 5, 2016 he finished the Green Man Ultra 30 miler as his first ultramarathon. Congratulations Jon!

Fun fact: For running fuel, Jon loves something that sounds amazing – chocolate covered flapjacks.

Jon’s favorite book on running is Everything Will Work Out in the Long Run by Dave Urwin (Amazon here).

Do you enjoy this podcast? You can help support it at ultrafinishers.com/support.

Posted by in General
Paul Kellio Green Man Ultra Report (2016)

Paul Kellio Green Man Ultra Report (2016)

Written by Paul Kellio – https://ultraboyruns.wordpress.com

I remember as I lay on the pavement just after the car hit me thinking that ‘The Green Man Ultra might be a DNS’ but roll back towards the middle of February and I was thinking ‘The Green Man Ultra is probably going to be a DNS because of this horrid chest infection’. To complete the tale of woe UltraBaby decided she would choose the night before the race to stay awake all night and keep both the GingaNinja and I up.

So rather miserably on Saturday 5th March at about 5.30am I got up and got ready for The Green Man Ultra. To say I wasn’t ready is an understatement.

I rocked up with rather grumpy GingerNinja and even grumpier UltraBaby to the awesome starting facilities at Ashton Gate – not far from where the Parkrun kicks off from.

Then came the first positive of the day, as I was collecting my number a familiar, yet new face came beaming towards me – @knocker73 – awesome. After a number of near misses over the years we finally got to meet and what an awesome, humble and tremendous young chap he is. The start line was filled with lots of familiar faces, many of them from Twitter and I managed to say hola to lots of them – especially once I’d found the ever brilliant Roz Glover. But there were also those I missed like @razzledazzlemark (another day buddy).


It was a cold and crisp morning but it was also bright and there had that hint of moisture in the air – lots of the runners had chosen to go out in waterproofs but as is normal for me I chose my standard combo of Ronhill and lovely Eco Green top from the Snowdonia Marathon. I’d chosen my Ronhill shorts too but this was a practical issue as the pockets on the outside would allow me to safely stow my GoPro and run without fear of loss. Having checked conditions with some of the local runners it was suggested that it was going to be a mud bath – I looked down at my Altra Lone Peak 2.0 and I feared for my safety.


Regardless of kit issues the briefing was over and we were off. I started, as has become my custom, at the back of the field and gently wandered through the field picking up my pace to stay just behind Ira Rainey (the 10hr timekeeper) – I figured if my body was okay I’d probably run something like about 9hrs and I’d push on past him once I’d figured the route out.

Conditions though were muddy and the hundreds of runners going through prior to me had cut it up nicely so it was as much mud sliding as it was running and each of the ‘hundreds’ of stiles meant that by the time you’d gotten into your stride there was another gate to clamber over or get through. However, after the first few steady ascents and descents I had relaxed into the race and found myself warming to the possibility of running a decent time. The trouble was that I could feel the niggle of the previous weeks car crash and by mile 3 it was a raging burning sensation through my groin, my right leg and lower back.

The pain was preventing me eating much as well and so at about mile 5, as I ran into a lovely gentleman called James, I started to chow down on food and drink to see if that would get my mind off the more problematic things. It worked while I was eating but nothing more.

The good news though was that Bristol and North Somerset are replete with beautiful scenery and as I looked up I could see nothing but fantastic views of our fantastic countryside. This was why I was here today.

Pulling in to CP1 I stopped for 2 or 3 minutes, watched Ira Rainey leave the checkpoint with his band of merry runners and then quickly followed. By now I realised I was slowing so my aims had to change and so I focused on staying ahead of the 11 hour pacer.

Through gritted teeth now I ran harder between CP1 and 2 than I had the first section but I was slower, my effort wasn’t being rewarded with results but pushing on I stayed ahead of the pacer. Here though it turned sweet and sour, firstly I could see Roz in the distance and so I put a spurt on to see if I could make CP2 before she did and then I came across ‘real mud’. I’d seen the previous pair of runners clamber across on a metal fence like a pair of monkeys but I felt with the right combination of pace and effort it was runnable.

How wrong can you be? My Clarkson-esque ‘more power’ gave rise to a defining moment in the race.


Slop! Slop! Fart! Fart! My feet became stuck but my body continued its progress forward and I was sent straight into the muddy abyss. Thankfully my Lone Peaks stayed on my feet and the dirty girl gaiters kept me locked in but I was covered from head to toe in crap. I wiped myself clean with all the buffs I had and then used what areas of my clothes that remained clean to wipe the rest off me. I climbed over to the fence and fought my way through the bog.

I don’t know if Roz was laughing at me, but if she was I hope she enjoyed it because had I seen me do that – well let’s say I’d have been amused. We ran together for the next 20 minutes too which was lovely as I often only see her at race starts and finishes or as she’s going past me. But Roz as ever looked every inch the legend she is and powered on to CP2 a little ahead of me. By the way, as an aside if Roz ever mentions ‘Dickslam’ or ‘Cockslam’ rest assured she’s talking about races and not knackering your knacker projectile launcher.

I pulled into CP2 – ate delicious jam sandwiches (no crust) and then promptly left heading straight to CP3. Alone now I was contemplating the DNF or my preferred RTC (refuse to continue), I was in agony but I faced the mental demons and reminded myself I was here to collect a medal and so I pushed on.

About 6 miles in to CP3 the 11 hour pacer finally caught me and so I used this as an opportunity to find my time bearings – how close to the right pace was he going, etc. He thought he was around 5 minutes ahead of time and he had a significant group with him – I stayed roughly with them for the next hour but eventually as we hit Tarmac my body failed and I slowed letting them go past – I was going to be timed out. All this way, all this pain, all for nothing.


‘Pain, time, effort, illness, sleeplessness and I will finish because I’m more than halfway there’ I told myself and then something happened that would change the course of my race and her name was Elaine.

Elaine. A very youthful forty-something (be rude to give an exact age) ultra running lady who was having a mentally challenging time. It’s fair to say, having lost the 11 hour pacer, she looked like her race was over. However, Elaine gave me the opportunity to focus on problems that weren’t my own and we chatted for a little while. Within a few moments I had warmed enormously to Elaine and we ground out the distance to CP3 where we both had support waiting for us. She had the awesome Gary, husband and supporter extraordinaire and I had the GingaNinja, UltraBaby and the Continental Trio.


I gulped down milkshake, said Adios to the support and threw on a waterproof after being hail stoned. Grabbing my running buddy, Elaine we set off. We’d agreed that we would aid one another for the remainder of the race, effectively we’d pace each other to the finish knowing that time was now against us.

She was calm, understated and brilliant and I was upbeat, frantic and woefully inadequate but it was a good mix of temperaments. It was when I found myself feeling leaden and she turned and said to me, ‘anyone’d think you’d been hit by a car!’ that I realised I was going to make it and in the best of company. 

We pulled apart the next section in good time and that was because (I hope) that we were inspiring one another to go that bit faster and that bit harder. Suddenly inclines and mud seemed a little less difficult and we covered a wide range of topics in conversations as the miles drifted away. I won’t say that the journey to CP4 was easy but it was a more balanced effort. It was all just coming together and the problems that had plagued me earlier in the day, while still there, seemed less significant. I hope the same can be said for my partner.

Tim. It was here that we met ‘Tim’. I know that lots of you will have met him, he was just a guy with a car, by a church, handing out goodies just when we needed them – he’d done the race the year before and we appreciated him taking the time to sit in the cold and wait for the exhausted runners to give them food and drink (and in our case a hug). I had lots of fizzy haribo. Yum.

Once we had passed Tim we started to focus on the final jaunt to mile 39. It was the grind now but actually good humour was holding it all together and nothing highlights that as much as our enclounter with a group of youths …

The VCR Tape Gang. We passed by a group of youths on the road, nothing unusual about that you might say, however, they had been unfurling the contents of old VHS tapes and I couldn’t help but advise them that ‘VHS has had its day, it’s old technology’. This was greeted by a torrent of abuse suggesting that we hurry up and the like. Having had my fun with them and a bit of a laugh I concluded the discourse with the following statement ‘I’m related to Jimmy Saville you know!’

It raised a titter in the running ranks and our young friends promptly left to get on with it.

At CP4 there was just time for a weewee stop for one of us – I’d drained the lizard just beyond CP3 so used the opportunity to give a progress update to the GingaNinja and suggested that we were about 10km and at current pace we’d be done in about 80 minutes. CP4 also gave me an opportunity to chat to a first time ultra widow and her family, we had a few gentle laughs about being stuck in the cold and waiting around for runners that might never appear. Her partner was several miles behind us and as I left I wished her and her runner well knowing that he was rapidly running out of time.


  
We pushed on uphill and back through the mud, only stopping for an enforced ‘headtorch breakout’. Fully lit we pushed on, watching the map, watching the Suunto and most importantly, watching the clock. Onwards through to Bristol and we could finally see things we knew (well things I knew) and the Tarmac hills felt heavy under my feet – the pounds of mud that caked my Altra was now starting to become strewn across the city, I could taste the finish line.

The GingaNinja passed us in the car and waved us on – we were nearly there. Entering the final uphills, each step started to feel like a winning step and the night became illuminated as we crossed the Clifton Suspension Bridge – a truly magnificent sight.  

A little further and Elaine egged us onwards, I egged us onwards and we reached the summit of Ashton Gate and into the deer park. Boom!

There was no time for messing around – we had momentum and we hurled our bruised and battered bodies to the fore. Through the final gate and in the distance we could see the small group of people lining the way. We grasped each other’s hands and began our ‘fast’ finish – the GingaNinja and Gary (Elaine’s excellent other half) waiting to congratulate us.

Over the line! I was delirious.

I felt like dying, every pain that I’d held back simply coursed through my veins, I was suitably broken. But I’d made it and the Green Man Ultra was

beaten, even if it was, in my case, a narrow points victory.


The Route.
What can you say? It’s undulating, there’s a few steep bits, there’s mud (up to your eyeballs in my case) and there was some stunning scenery to admire. The Green Man is a pretty route – a shame about the amount of gates and stiles you need to get through but these are a very minor distraction to a great course. You should do this just for the course.

Marshals/Volunteers/Support. As with all ultra races the support tends to be checkpoint based and this was no different and it was universally excellent. Everything from the casual ease of the registration through to the handing out of jam sandwiches, medals and certificates this was one slick operation. A mention must go to the people on the course too – Tim, with his unofficial checkpoint, the cowbellers with the pretzels and the family at the park with jelly beans – they all made me smile. There was also the genuine and heartfelt congratulations from the Bristolians as ultra runners invaded their city. This was a good old knees up. For me though I’d like to say a big thank you to Ian, the 11 hour Timelord who put up with my wittering about getting extra time for far too long. So thanks you everyone you made this a very friendly experience.

Value for money? Always a bone of contention for me. Do you get your money’s worth? Let’s break it down; entry to the race with a stunning course to run, a bespoke medal, bespoke T-Shirt, included race photography,  certificate, food on the course, hot food afterwards, showers, good change and toilet facilities and all the usual gubbins! Yep this was a value for money ultra.

Elaine. If you know her, if you’ve met her, if you see her then always pass on my good wishes and thanks. She’s a tremendous runner with a great future in the sport and for me personally she was the perfect antidote to day I was having. I’ll always be incredibly grateful to her as her spirit was so incredibly strong. If you read this young lady – recover well and start your preparations for the next one soon!

Kit? I chose mostly the right kit and the altra LP2.0 despite being slip slide actually help up amazingly well and combined with my drymax socks kept my feet in good condition. The Ronhill shorts with the gel pockets also worked a treat as a secure location for my GoPro and extendable reach stick – so lots of steady footage shot of the race and me running it. The thing I got wrong was good and I’ll need to assess that for next time – the sweet and fruit options were fine but my savoury choices made me choke and that’s not what you want.

UltraBoyRuns? Don’t run an ultra on no training (chest infection), no sleep (naughty UltraBaby) or having just survived being hit by a car mere days earlier. I was foolish to think about starting but I wouldn’t have missed it. I finished bloodied, bruised and injured and in a rubbish time but eventually all that fades and what’s left is I ran the 45 miles.

Conclusions? The Green Man is fun, friendly, beautiful, intimate, tough and brilliant. It has something for everyone and I highly recommend you add this to your race calendars – it’s one I’d go back to. Don’t let the fact it’s a shorter distance ultra put you off, the mud makes this a challenge, the route is a challenge and the time of year is a challenge. Give this a go, you won’t regret it.

Name: The Green Man Ultra Organisers: Ultrarunning Ltd Location: Bristol Distance: 45 miles approximately Course: Muddy, undulating, runnable

Posted by in General
Chasing the Green Man by Nick The Ultrarunner

Chasing the Green Man by Nick The Ultrarunner

A run round Bristol

The start.jpg
Ashton Court the start line

The Green Man Ultra is efficiently organised by Ultra running Ltd and having completed it in 2014 and not clashing with Crufts this year, I wanted to give it another go. So, there I was stood on the start line for a second go fully knowing what was to come.

The 2014 version had a nice downhill start, from a country club, down the tracks Ashton Court Mansion and past the deer parks. This year the start was Ashton Court Mansion and uphill! They had also introduced two new elements: –

  • Chip timing
  • Time lords

My ultimate aim was to keep in front of the 12 hour time lord but try and keep up with the 11 hour time lord.

After checking in, coffee drunk we were ready for the race briefing then we were off. The Canicross runners held back, their dogs weren’t very impressed and were baying to set off. Canicross runners have the added advantage of 4 paw traction uphill, but the disadvantage of heaving or encourage their running companion to jump over the stiles and stopping their running companions from going full speed downhill!

Canicross runners.jpg
Four paw traction

The first section pottered down through the park, through the local woods and tracks eventually after passing through a local housing estate we hit the community forest path proper. The mud trail had started good and proper and was a local feature for the rest of the race.

A short word about mud – believe it or not mud has a very wide spectrum, from liquid which can come in a verity of colours, squelchy to clod hopper. It all sticks no matter what and in various depths. Being at the back of the mid to back pack it was nicely churned up all the way round. In some places, navigation in places consisted of following the mud trail!

However, back to the race, the hills round Bristol are to say the least, Yorkshire undulating in style and after several climbs the first aid station came into view. On offer was water and malt loaf. Toilets are always welcome and I needed them! The countryside we ran round is stunning with a nice mix of fields, tracks, woodland and a small amount of tarmac road.

Nice path

My strategy was to try and keep at least 1 runner in view at all times as the navigation could be tricky and I eventually hooked up with 3 local runners doing it for the first time. They were being very ably supported by their local club and families, with the welcome addition of pop-up aid stations on-route.

The weather was very pleasant for most of the day with the exception of a 10 minute rain and hail shower – this prompted a few choice words from my companions.

Aid station 2 eventually arrived and there was a good choice of sandwiches and cake, with the usual cold drinks etc.

A short word about stiles – normally these aren’t a problem and are an easy way of crossing a wall or fence. The stiles on the community path are different and very evil. Short they are not, high and vertical in many different styles, they become worse the longer the race with tired legs that refuse to lift any higher than 6 inches.

Evil stile.jpg
Evil stiles

Onwards and upwards was the theme and we crossed and recrossed 3 motorways (M4, M32 and M5) along the way. You can always tell when a motorway is getting closer, the noise gradually increases. Several train tracks are also crossed.

With 3 miles to go before aid station 3 we had the fright of our lives – the 12 hour time lord had caught us up! However, his strategy was to keep the pace higher than the 12 hour pace to allow for tiredness at the latter stages. Game on, keep up or try and keep a small safety window ahead of him. So, on we pressed and the pace crept up. We were in a reasonable sized group, one person even had a go-pro camera. It did give us a chance to swap notes, what future ultras we were doing, as it turned out, the time lord was doing the SDW100 (snap so am I again), another was doing the TP100 and using the GMU as a training run.

The section from aid station 3 to 4 was a fairly lengthy stretch (approximately 11 miles) with uphill and down dale continuing. After crossing the M5 for the second time and a clear view of Bristol airport to the right I knew the final aid station wasn’t far to go.

However, whilst coming through this local town, some local lads were mucking about with an old video tape – stretching it across the road to slow cars down. I did comment to them that they could get hurt, surprise surprise, a car stopped with threats to pull them from limb from limb came out of open windows. Needless to say I didn’t hang around!

Aid station 4 was the last one and the legs were holding up rather well, protesting (to be expected) and the feet joined in during the last few miles. That’s ultras for you.

A quick coffee (with 3 sugars), 9 bar and cake consumed, head torch on and up through last section of woods and tracks to the Clifton Suspension bridge. As before it was brilliantly lit up and rather romantically a couple who were running with me had very fond memories of it. It had been their first date on one of the viewing platforms.

Once I’d crossed the bridge I had less than half a mile to go and then the 12 hour time lord caught me up again, moaning that had been a lonely 4 miles. There was nothing left but to trot down the path, through the deer park and the finish. Nicely under the 12 hour limit (just).

On reflection I messed around with the mud too much, trying to avoid the stuff and should have gone straight through. I packed my running poles and never used them – this would have saved 900 grams in weight. I didn’t drink as much as I should have, but I didn’t suffer the consequences. Perhaps having a dog to run with me might have helped with the hills. The phone tracker didn’t work, but I hadn’t finished registering it correctly, me and technology!

Green man montage.jpg
Mission completed

All in all I enjoyed it and a might be back for a 3rd go next year.

Nick The Ultrarunner

Posted by in General