As part of my training for the WHW I wanted to do some long successive days. I also wanted to do something a bit different. All the training on the WHW can get a bit samey. As my Father(Jim) lives near the Cotswolds and its 102 miles with a similar profile to the WHW I thought it would fit the bill.
On Saturday I flew down to Birmingham and made my way to Banbury on the train. All v easy and by Saturday evening we were drinking some very nice Italian wine and planning the next 3 days.
The plan was to run North from Bath to Chipping Camden. This involved an early start.
The drive took about 2 hours and it started raining heavily as we approached Bath(a sign of things to come). After a couple of tours of Bath city looking for the Abbey which is where it all starts(or finishes) I was chucked out the car and told to find it on foot. The rain stopped at that point which was welcome. After a quick visit to Starbucks for the usual pre run ablutions(sorry ) I found the Abbey and immediately started running South. Not a good start. I made my way back to the start and reset my watch.
The run through Bath was lovely, its not a city I know so it was good to see a bit of it. I made my way out and headed north. After a couple of golf courses(there were many) I met Jim at Cold ashton. A lovely village. He seemed keen to restrict my calories but once I had made it clear I wasnt there to lose weight we were fine and off I went. The next section to Tormarton was pretty dire. Running across the M4 in torrential rain did make me wonder what I was doing there. The rain continued for the rest of the day more or less. I met Jim in Horton but only after getting horrendously lost in a country estate. I eventually found myself trapped behind some gates waiting for someone to set the dogs on me. I managed to escape through some undergrowth and made my way back to civilisation. Unfortunately I was heading the wrong way and was sent back the way I had come to Little Sodbury. Let me tell you I was very pleased to see the Cotswold way sign.
The last 10 miles or so went very well. I suddenly started feeling good and felt I was moving well. I finished in Wotton under edge and we made camp in an Inn for the night. 32m completed.
The Inn turned out to be the focus for all the local insomniacs with drink problems so probably wasnt the best choice but never mind. I headed out of Wotton feeling pretty good. It wasnt to last. This was easily the worst section. I had 14m to do and I got lost so many times I lost count. Stinchcombe Hill and Dursley were real low points and it rained and rained and rained. The kind of rain that you are instantly soaked.
It took me over 4 hours to do less than 14m. Not good. The next section to Painswick was better but I knew I wasnt going to do my 35m that I had planned. Painswick is lovely but I wasnt interested. I headed out as quickly as I could after being refuelled by Jim who was doing a great job keeping me fed and motivated.
The final section to Birdlip seemed to go on for ever. The day had seen me going through alot of thick mud in woodland and that is how it finished for the last few miles. I eventually finished after 8.5 hours running and covered 30M. Tomorrow was going to be tough.
Started at 9am and things just seemed easier. The first 10m whizzed by and I was in Dowdeswell in good time and feeling good. This in spite of the fact that I had forgotten my ruc sac and guide book. The signs were good and I didnt get lost all day.
I met Jim at 21m just south of Winchcombe. Felt good and made good time to Stanton which was only 10m to go. It was at this point I felt a slight pull in my right calf. I decided to walk all hills as a precaution but wasnt really up to doing much more than that anyway. My right big toe was also giving me alot of pain due to a big blister under the nail but I wasnt stopping at that stage.
The last 2 hours were in lovely early evening sunshine and Broadway looked gourgeous. Jim met me evry 2m or so after that and I finished in Chipping Camden feeling quite pleased with myself.
The 40m that day took 8.5 hours so i was pleased with that.
Overall then, a soggy experience but not one I would have missed. The Cotswolds are very beautiful and I'm sure in normal conditions the trails would be a delight to run on. In fairness the last day was great running. Jim was great the whole way giving great support. Hopefully this will turn out to be a good launchpad for a good WHW
I have now done over 1000 miles this year so thats another milestone.