”I can do this, I can do this, I can do this” I keep telling myself I’m 97 Miles and 13879ft of accents into The Cotswolds way and I’m trying to muster what energy I have left through the pain coursing through my feet and knees.
One day Prior I had set off from Banbury train station after a few weeks of planning and researching kit I would need to navigate my way through the Cotswolds Way with everything I would need to complete it unsupported. I Arrived in Bath at 1130 and with a quick walk to Bath Abbey I had a little look around and last minute kit check before setting off at 1150. The Cotswolds way is a pretty epic route and covers so much ground and history that writing a blog post could easily turn into a novel. I’m going to skim through much of it but give you a rough idea of how it feels to run this distance.
Bath is a haven for tourists so after not only climbing for around an hour up the streets but also dodging all the tourists that would stop and give me a funny looks. I finally managed to get out of Bath and hit the trails which were still climbing high over Bath. Although I wasn’t racing I had set myself some targets if I was to finish in a decent enough time each day but the run out of Bath put me behind time immediately. Lucky for me a quick look at the map and I could see I could make up the time over the next 8 to 12 Miles passing Dyrham Park and its grand House and then onto two Hill forts.
I made it to the 30 Mile point after a little walk and on passing through Wotton-Under-Edge I refilled all 2.5 Litres of water had a Ginsters Steak Slice and moved on a full stomach and happy although my legs were getting tired. It wasn’t long before I hit the stopping point at Nympsfield (45 Miles) in good time and just before the Sun was setting I found the little campsite I was staying at which meant I could grab a well deserved shower. I set up my tarp got my sleeping bag out and waited as the sunset over the Cotswold way which put an end to an amazing first day.
I awoke at 5am, packed my kit up and made ready for a long day ahead my legs hadn’t woken up yet so I used the walking poles to help me along a little. I had a little bite to eat and made off for 57 miles, It wasn’t long before my legs had woken up and I settled into a light trot on a beautiful morning. I mad my way up to Stroud and as I made the transition from trail to tarmac I was greeted by the holy grail a fast food truck! I grabbed a bacon sarnie and cup of tea sat on the curb and enjoyed my moral boost even though I was getting some strange looks by the motorists passing by.
Once the food was down I once again set off and made my way to a climb up to a roman hill fort and trig point just past Painswick which gave great views over Gloucestershire. The sun was beating down on me with temperatures rising to above 24 Degrees not good for a ginger! I Really started to feel it at this point, the heat was strong and my pack was starting to weigh me down a bit, my knees were taking a beating from the descents but I new I had to keep my pace up a little. I made it to the 40 Mile point at Winchcombe which brought me to 85 Miles the furthest I had ever run in one go. 17 Miles to go, 17 Miles that was it i kept saying but 17 miles was going to take a long time at the snails pace I seemed to be moving at now.
I stopped and took my pack off for a few minutes. I was stood still but why does it feel as though my legs are still moving? that had to be the strangest sensation ever. I took my trainers off expecting the worse as they were causing me a lot of pain to find I still had all my toenails and only one blister, that in itself was an achievement.
I knew I had to get moving so a couple of Cliff Energy Bloks and a few swigs of water and I was off once again ”17 miles that’s it come on Liam” the miles soon rolled by 16, 15, 14, 10, 8 miles I had made it to Broadway I was pretty much walking at this point then I made it to Broadway tower ”I can do this, I can do this, I can do this” I keep telling myself I’m 97 Miles and 13879ft of accents into The Cotswolds Way and I’m trying to muster what energy I have left through the pain coursing through my feet and knees. My back feels as though I am giving a piggyback to the many cows that had chased me through fields but I’m moving a little faster now.
Then Chipping Campden Comes into view through the tree line and so many emotions, thoughts are going through my head at this stage. A quick Text to the Wife who is at the finishing point to tell her I would be 10 mins as I make my way down the last Hill my knees fells as though they are going to give way at any minute but I make it to the last stretch of road I can see my kids and wife up ahead I have actually bloody done this I climb a few steps and here I am at the end of The Cotswolds Way!
I wont lie it was hard and at points I felt as though I couldn’t take another step but what an achievement and I cant say there wasn’t a tear in my eye when I finished. To come from not being able to run 2 years ago to completing 103 Miles all on my own is an amazing feeling. A massive thank you to all who supported me along the way form the people who I met on Route to everyone that tweeted me while I was updating social media you pushed me that bit further with all your messages of support the UKRunchat Community is truly the BEST! To my wife a big thank you for supporting me from day one and although I may be a bit mad and worry you all the time its worth it haha.
For those that are interested here is a little post with everything I took with me on my run.