Scott Harris Green Man Ultra Race Report (2015)

Written by Scott Harris –

It’s been a while since I last raced so I was getting pretty excited in the build up to running 44 miles around Bristol. A couple weeks leading up to the race I was feeling tired, far more so than I should have been but with my training going well I felt pretty good about things. Recently I’ve found that my body acts a little differently in the build up to races; I use to get ghost pains where my body would remind me of previous niggles but now I feel tired as my body and mind prepare for what’s about to come. Already feeling tired, this made it pretty hard to judge my actual state.

Banging my knee very hard on my wooden bed two days before the race did nothing to help. Ouch! That seriously hurt, but I knew I was being over sensitive as it was so close to race day. The limp only lasted a couple hours.

The route starts and ends in Long Ashton as you circumvent Bristol covering roughly 44 miles. In achieving this you qualify as a Woodwose. I did a recce about 3 weeks before hand from Keynsham to the finish line, making several navigation errors despite having the route on my GPS watch. Shortly after the recce a friend who was also running told me it would not be marked on the day. It had being announced a couple months before hand but I had managed to miss that vital bit of information. The recce became even more useful and I made as many notes as I could to help keep my errors to a minimum on the day. I studied these a couple more times as I laid out my kit the night before.

Race day was here. I got my things together and headed from the B&B I was staying in, to Long Ashton Community Centre. I picked up my race number and with surprising composure attached it to my t-shirt, taping corners to ensure it wouldn’t rip. I had a quick chat with Phil Taylor who was over from Jersey before the race briefing.

With the race sold out 300 of us slowly exited outside and to the start line. Last year’s winner Stu Wilkie would lead everyone through the initial streets until we hit the trail. We got underway and I aimed to get near the front early on.

Photo: AF Photography

Photo: AF Photography


Photo: AF Photography

Good job we had someone to follow from the start as I would have probably have got lost already. Until the second checkpoint I didn’t know where I was going and had to rely on either my watch or someone who knew the route. Fortunately someone clearly did and a few of us settled in behind Clare Prosser as she lead the way, though someone else had gone off fast immediately. He was out of sight for now, but such an aggressive start meant he would likely be caught later on.

The running was going well with it not being ridiculously muddy, in fact it was great weather and with the possibility of sun shine in the afternoon it was going to be a great day. We entered CP1 and continued on, I decided against grabbing any water as I wanted to follow Clare. Once we hit CP2 I’d feel comfortable navigational wise.

I could tell it was getting closer, I grabbed a gel topped up my water and left the checkpoint in Keynsham. I was a little too excited and started to speed up. I decided to see if I could make a gap and start to push a little, initially this went well and I was feeling good. Then I made a wrong turn; bugger! I had to double back and before I headed back on track I could see the pursuing runners. I speed up a little bit again but that wrong turn had knocked my confidence navigating and I started to question my tactics. I only had to make another error and my surge would be a waste of time. I decided against pushing shortly afterwards and stopped for a toilet break as the 4 four runners (Clare, Phil, Alan and Ross) caught up and over took. Never mind. I joined on to the back and kept running thinking one recce wasn’t enough on an unmarked course!

Things were going fine and I was happy to be back in the pack, who were still slowly but surely gaining on first. We started to see glimpses of Brian Robb who had been leading from the start. As the others started to fade a little, Clare and I caught up and overtook Brian. I was marginally in front but took another wrong turn. Clare overtook and shouted down to me so I turned and got back on route. As we had to cross a couple roads she seemed to be able to run across without waiting, whereas I had to stand a little frustrated waiting for cars to pass. Slowly I was losing ground.  As we passed through Kendleshire Golf Club I still had her in sight but having to wait again as I crossed another road I could no longer see her. Soon after this I developed a stich and had to walk it out, it was only for a few metres and thankfully cleared up quickly. I got moving again and was soon at CP3 trailing Clare in 2nd by about a minute.

I topped up on water, had a coke and got moving again. The short break helped and I was moving well but a little uncertain if I had it in me to speed up much anymore. I had underestimated the terrain a little, it wasn’t difficult running but my quads were started to feel all the soft ground as running through mud and fields took their toll. Mentally I was in a pretty good place feeling relatively comfortable that those behind wouldn’t be moving any faster than me.

I kept going thinking about the route ahead. The only error I had made on the recce between here and the finish line was right at the end exiting Ashton Court. Otherwise I just had to worry about moving, eating and drinking enough. I kept running with no one close ahead of me nor behind. It did start to feel like I was running for second place now with little I could do. I couldn’t get complacent though just in case someone behind found their legs. I was soon at CP4 about 10 minutes behind now. Oh well. I still had a chance of getting in under 6 hours 35 minutes which was the course record. Okay so I wasn’t going to set a new course record but if I could get in under the previous CR I’d be pretty happy with that.

Home straight

Photo: AF Photography

I kept looking at my watch – this was going to be tight. I started to slow a little which I wasn’t happy about! Come on! Over a couple playing fields, over the Clifton Suspension bridge, into Ashton Court, pass the Green Man (which I missed again) on to the final hill of the day. Almost there, time to focus…

I ran down hill knowing it was almost over, just had to cross a road, pass through another golf course and I was pretty much there. As I got to the bottom the route turned 180 degrees and down hill further?? Great. Worried I’d miss the turn like I did on my recce, I’d over compensated and turned off too early. I ran diagonally up hill to try and meet up with the route off trail through leaves pushing my way through smaller trees. Still unable to see the route, I turned left and ran down hill off trail, worried some how I might miss the road crossing. I swore. And again. Damn. I was now on a path running parallel to the road I had to cross, but as I was approaching from the wrong angle I couldn’t see the crossing. There it is clearly marked. No doubt the turning I had to take was also marked! I got back on route passed through Long Ashton golf course and headed down hill to the community centre and the finish line. That had probably cost me a couple minutes. Extremely frustrating end to the race but I’d taken 2nd place and 1st male in 6:40:33.

Full results

My run on Strava

//” target=”_blank”>More photos  from Amanda of AF Photography

Big thanks to all the volunteers and those at Ultrarunning Ltd who made the event happen.