Be Afraid: Darkside Challenge at the Sodbury Slog

Challenge the forum Darkside to a mud 'n' guts eight-miler, and this is what you get!

Posted: 5 December 2003
by Fat Buddha

This year's pics to come as soon as the race organiser sends them!

It all started with a simple post on September 9 on the Runners World forum from Barkles:

Subject: The gauntlet lies at our feet! - Sodbury Slog, Nov 9. Team needed..

"Jethro has challenged us to a team competition at above-mentioned event. We need a fair number, eight I think. It's an eight-miler, with mud and water and stuff. He has offered sponsorship!!!!!!!

Come on guys,roll up. Who's up for mud wrestling.....?

Oh and it’s got a hill as well, I think.."

Errm, what on earth is the Sodbury Slog? We quickly learn that it’s eight heart-stopping, lung-busting and back-breaking 'country' miles around Chipping Sodbury, organised by Bitton Road Runners from Bristol.

It was in for a penny, in for a pound, as forumites signed up to the challenge, and quickly three mixed teams of five were organised/disorganised/moved around and coerced into taking up Jethro’s challenge. Illustrious forum names such as Barkles, TwoDogs, Jon, Dr Nic, MMmmm Universal Twinkler, Shambler, Knackered Knees, Fat Buddha, MadKat, Crash Hamster and Dragonbreath were just a few to commit.

A quick look at the Bitton RR website quickly reveals that in 2001 and 2002 the Slog was a complete and utter mud-bath, and it’s got hills, gates, and water crossings as well. Goddarn it – most of us are townies used to pavements and roads, not fields! Tactics are discussed on the forum – Should we wear spikes? How about thongs? What about teatrays for the downhill bits? In the end, the only tactics decided upon are to shout 'Eek' and do a lot of wibbling.

Slog Day arrives and thankfully for us novices it has not been raining much in the previous weeks, so the mud will not be as deep or sticky as the two previous years. We gather in a cold car park at Chipping Sodbury School to be issued with kit by Jethro – running T-shirts advertising his shop and Father Christmas hats. Hmmm. Unfortunately Cap’n Barkles cannot attend due to a family bereavement and was badly missed if for no other reason than his organisational skills!

The start is about a mile of road before veering off over heathland and farmland towards the base of an escarpment, on the way climbing gates with hay bales to help you get over without damage (to the gates, at least). The going underfoot is uneven, and not helped by ample amounts of cow 'ordure', which help give the run a certain aroma!! After a couple of miles, the 'hill' appears and there is no getting away from it - it's a BIG HILL. Near the top, the course becomes a narrow, steep footpath through woods where you are forced to walk in a single-file queue. For the faster, it's frustrating; for the fatter and slower, it's a welcome relief!

The run levels and then drops into a steep, winding wooded descent for the madder to hurtle down, through a manor house garden (interesting running past someone's back door) and then another steep climb on a narrow road. Then comes the really interesting bit - a couple of miles of very steep ups and downs - each short but almost impossible to run, all over uneven farmland. And yet more stiles, gates and fences to add to the fun.

After this, the course heads through a farmyard, which seems to have been specially sprayed with extra amounts of cow muck, and out into open country, heading back to Sodbury across heathland. Then finally, the piece de resistance: a very muddy channel followed by a short but deep stream crossing. In very wet weather this section is supposed to be where the real fun is, although Petal tried her level best on the day to entertain onlookers by launching herself full-frontally into the mud!

The final part of the run takes you through the Chipping Sodbury backroads and back to the finish at the school. For the earlier finishers – warm showers, for the later ones, a cold hosepipe. Lovely!

And the results of the challenge, I hear you ask? Nobody knew until Jethro came through and offered prizes to the first Darkside Team home. That was.... TwoDogs, Jon, MadKat, DB and Mo, who to this day have no idea what they have won. And probably don’t care, really! It was just excellent fun.

(Overall winning time is 58:12; fastest Darksider is TwoDogs in 1:16:18; slowest finisher comes in at 2:59:19; poor Jethro's team was the last Challenge team)

Big thanks to Cap’n Barkles for getting the Darkside forumites to do this; Jethro for supplying T-shirts, hats, and post-race water and choccies; Bitton Road Runners for excellent organisation and marshalling. And of course Runners World for providing the forum.
Ed: shucks... it's the least we can do.

Oh, and Sodding Chipbury, (sorry - Chipping Sodbury) – the Darksiders will be back next year. Be afraid, be very afraid,,, and bring that mud on!

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sodbury slog, forum report

Discuss this article

Jethro has challenged us to a team competition at above mentioned event. We need a fair number, eight I think. Tis 8 miler, with mud and water and stuff. He has offered sponsorship!!!!!!!

come on guys,roll up, who's up for mud wrestling.....?

oh and it;s got a hill as well, I think..
Posted: 09/09/2003 at 08:38


That's me out, then.

(though my pompoms need to step up their training)
Posted: 09/09/2003 at 08:39

only a little hill.
Posted: 09/09/2003 at 08:42

where is Sodbury?
Posted: 09/09/2003 at 08:59

North of Bristol, I believe?????
Posted: 09/09/2003 at 09:16

Sod it, OK then.
Posted: 09/09/2003 at 09:19

is it like a tough guy kind of thing? if its just running and mud and a bit of splashing around, yes......
Posted: 09/09/2003 at 09:23

Well thats 4 then Barkles mate!! 1/2 way there!!!
Posted: 09/09/2003 at 09:26

Any more..?
Posted: 09/09/2003 at 09:27

no...wait...I said maybe..if its a toughguy wannabe, then thats another matter!
Posted: 09/09/2003 at 09:29

Come on in TD the water's lovely!
Posted: 09/09/2003 at 09:31

Hold your hosses - it's like TOUGH guy!!! Er.....with fires and big walls and underground tunnels?

MM, I thought it was just a xc run? (Dr Nic raises an eyebrown and looks stern)
Posted: 09/09/2003 at 09:32

Hold your hosses - it's like TOUGH guy!!! Er.....with fires and big walls and underground tunnels?

MM, I thought it was just a xc run? (Dr Nic raises an eyebrown and looks stern)
Posted: 09/09/2003 at 09:32

I am so concerned I'll say it twice.
Posted: 09/09/2003 at 09:33

tis cross country with a bt of mud...

i think..
Posted: 09/09/2003 at 09:33

So thats


Foxy's interested too!
Posted: 09/09/2003 at 09:34

Oh, whatever. Let's just do it. It can't be that bad or it would be illegal. Right?
Posted: 09/09/2003 at 09:34

Posted: 09/09/2003 at 09:36

Posted: 09/09/2003 at 09:36


yeah right Nic!
Posted: 09/09/2003 at 09:37

"Sodbury Slog. 11am. Chipping Sodbury School, Chipping Sodbury, near Bristol. Roughly 8 miles, mostly cross-country after a long road start (not suitable for spikes). Time limit 2:20 (roughly equivalent to 2 hours for ten flat miles)"
Posted: 09/09/2003 at 09:43

yeah I'll do it
Posted: 09/09/2003 at 09:44


so thats


come on you lot..

Running Duck???


oh sorry cant ask him, he's the enemy.
Posted: 09/09/2003 at 09:45

What a lot of sods.

So....can't wear my have to wear my trail shoes which was aprox. 3lbs each cos they are caked in mud and all might take 2 hrs 20!!!!!! and is "roughly" 8 miles....ha ha.

Oh my gad. Well I might have done one club xc by then as practice! TD - you should definitely run the Dulwich XC then if you're doing this!
Posted: 09/09/2003 at 09:47

What about Greeny and the other west/wales types??

And who is in Jethro's team?
Posted: 09/09/2003 at 09:48

Whoops - when I said what a lot of sods, that was written before Barkles list of people...I was refering to TD's post...not that.

Right, time for wuk. Bye!
Posted: 09/09/2003 at 09:49

put me down as a 'possibly', I love mud!

Only thing that might stop me is (a) not being able to get there from London and (b) not being nearly packed as I'm off to Oz 3 days later...
Posted: 09/09/2003 at 09:50

I'm interested but who are the opposition? I may even end up being part of the opposition! Will probably do the race anyway.

There's only one small I'm c**p!

More details on who is competing against whom for what please Barkles...
Posted: 09/09/2003 at 09:52

Competing for pride mate. One of our number. jethro has a shop and his staff have entered asa team.
Ability t run not as important as the ability to laugh..

well done Spans, Deer!
Posted: 09/09/2003 at 09:56

Spans, careful witht the 'I love mud' bit..
Posted: 09/09/2003 at 09:57

Nic I am planning on doing some of the Dulwich XC stuff...need to invest in some trail shoes I suspect
Posted: 09/09/2003 at 09:59

Nic will be catching a train from london too.. yer more than welcome to join her and stay at her chosen accomodation as well if you like...
Posted: 09/09/2003 at 10:03


Would love to have a go BUT I am not sure I would finish within the time limit and that would let the team down.
Posted: 09/09/2003 at 10:14

It's the day after the Cheddar half marathon.
Posted: 09/09/2003 at 10:19

I'm tempted, done the race last year (in 1:29!) and it is very hilly, one of the hills you could only go up in single file and walk it was that steep. And it not so much as mud you got to run through, more like very wet clay!!!

Saying that, I really did enjoy it. There's results and pictures on Bitton RR's web site from the past 2 races, this should give you a gues on what time you should be aiming for. It is impossible to do a fast time!

Oh what the heck count me in.
Posted: 09/09/2003 at 10:20

hey Barkles - why do you think I played rugby for so long!!

<quickly looks around forsnoop... no I did not mean mud wrestling...>
Posted: 09/09/2003 at 10:25


can't do nov 9th. w'polo wkend. was about to post a 'yes' too. could do wkend before or after, or even later in the afternoon, but games on the sunday are at 10.30 and 12.30
Posted: 09/09/2003 at 10:26

(by saying i could do the wkend before or after, obviously i know/hope the organisers won't rearrange for me)
Posted: 09/09/2003 at 10:27

looks like fell running shoes will be required!!! (oh yet more spending...!!)
Posted: 09/09/2003 at 10:36

Er....those pictures are scary!!! Lots of slippery downhills... :-( Are you sure I can't wear my spikes? I might not make the cut off cos I'll be inching down the hills on my bum!
Posted: 09/09/2003 at 10:36

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