Poets Path Potter Virtual Marathon

A number of us had signed up to the actual Poets Path Potter (a charity running event in Dymock) in March, but due to COVID the races were cancelled. However, the organisers opened up a virtual version of the race, with entrants being able to run 8, 10, 16 or 26 mile virtual trail runs either locally or following the actual route.

The 8-miles routes are Poets Path (PP) 1 or 2, the 10-mile is Daffodil Way (DW), 16-miles is normally PP 2 then 1, and the 26-miler is PP2, DW, then PP1. They are all circular routes either starting at the church or starting / finishing at the cricket pavilion.

Originally, Rachel, Stu and I had set out to do the 26-miler one Saturday afternoon, but being unable to find our way on PP2 we called it a day. These runs are self-navigating, with very detailed instructions, however on PP2 the farmer had blocked one of the routes which caused us problems (which I didn’t discover until one of my recce runs).

I went out and recced all three routes over the following few weeks, though I did go terribly wrong on PP2 (doing 11 instead of 8 miles), I also ran with Sue on her virtual DW run.

At the start

Anyway, we left Stroud at 7am on Saturday, determined that we would finish the 26 miles in daylight. We got to Dymock, quite buzzing with the prospect of doing this. I was fully armed with the route instructions. Rachel had been suffering from a bad back and neck, so had not run for a few weeks and was going to see how she felt; Stu on the other hand, had only run a marathon about two weeks before!

Obligatory start selfie taken at the church which is the starting point, and we were off. The first route is PP2. These are proper trail runs – through lots of farmers fields, tracks, orchards, a little bit of road, more kissing gates, styles and farm gates than you can count – there are a few well-marked paths but not many, so you do need your wits about you to navigate your way. The organisers provide very detailed instructions, but still…..

I think PP2 is the hardest route and the one least-well waymarked. The route itself takes you around the areas of Preston, Leadington, Greenway and back to Dymock. On various parts of the route there are some lovely views and we had to keep telling each other ‘to look up!’.

Mud glorious mud

Those first 8 miles were hard. The terrain was very muddy and we discovered a whole range of different mud types from claggy to boggy, wet or sandy, and plenty of mud mixed with animal droppings (say no more!)

Once PP2 was complete we ran to the car which was parked near the church, refuelled and headed out on the Daffodil Way. I think this is probably the nicest route and I imagine in Spring there will be parts of the route full of daffodils. Definitely a better marked route. However, it was a lot muddier than when Sue and I ran it.

Water under the bridge

We also had to wade through about a foot of water under the motorway bridge. This route goes via Kempley, Fishpool, Kempley Green, Dymock Wood and back to Dymock. Surprisingly having done over 18 miles we were all feeling very buoyant and definitely of the mindset ‘we can do this’. After another fuel stop we were off again.

PP1 goes via Ryton, Redmarley, Ketford and back to Dymock. This route also navigates a few motorway bridges but fortunately no flooded ones. The route also tells you that you pass by the site of the infamous Redmarley murder (who knew?). Again, at certain points there are some stunning views, We were helped towards the end by Rachel’s supply of rather nice Asda Mini Marti Mushrooms (they are now on my list as an ultra running food source!)

The Finish

We were definitely pleased to see the cricket pavilion come into view once again and to finish our 26.2 muddy miles.

Huge thanks to Rachel and Stu – I can’t believe Rachel took so many photos!

We would highly recommend the Poets Path Potter and we’re sure that in March the ground will be better. Hopefully Phil and Co can put on a COVID-safe event.