Just got back from my first run since the Hardmoors 55 last weekend, weather today is pretty similar, overcast, a bit windy, rain threatening at times.
Last Saturday was my first event from the Hardmoors series. We’d booked a hotel in Pickering and drove down after work on the Friday. It had taken a lot of preparation in the run up to the event. Living in Cumbria meant we hadn’t recced any of th Cleveland Way (something we usually prioritise for an ultra), it was our furthest race so far at 55 miles plus the 2900 meters of ascent was nowt to be sniffed at either! Finally the extensive kit list and numerous checkpoints had left us with a little anxiety as to whether our base layers were merino-y enough and whether we’d miss any checkpoints and end up DQ’d (15.30 hr time limit sounds like a lot but it soon slips away..)
Still we were super excited and had booked onto the bus leaving from Helmsley early doors. We were up at 4.30am, bus leaves at 6am and was on time. Race however, starting in Guisborough kicks off at 9am. So there was time to kill at the start but registration was efficient and everyone was helpful.
The race was underway by around 9.15 am and we took it easy from the start. It took a while for the field to spread out, something we weren’t used to as over mountains you tend to end up on your own pretty quick. Still the tracks were really really runnable and in fact navigation in the early stages of the race was pretty much a non issue. The first main feature of the race is Roseberry Topping (cute name) and then another climb to the Captain Cook Monument.
We were amazed at how runnable the Cleveland Way is, coming from the Lakes were on some trails you’re concentrating so hard on not falling down the mountain (Hallsfell Ridge Lakes in a Day) so this was like a holiday. The little Acorn sign was visible throughout and spirits were high.
The first food checkpoint was at Kildale at 12 miles in and it came up on us quickly. We’d thought long and hard about nutrition and opted just to have one drop bag at Osmotherley at 30 miles in. We passed through Kildale quick and headed back onto the dales. An up down section followed with a questionably high self clip (thanks to ed and the guy that gave me a boost!). Great views all along this section. The next main checkpoint was at Lord Stones. Super friendly marshals the whole way, they really made this race. Grabbed a peanut butter sandwich here and my Black Diamond Ultra Distance poles made there first appearance as it was a steep climb once again. Another up down section, I felt a bit tired here so if I was going to pick out a ‘low point’ that would probably have been it. However it was a minor blip nothing like my usual ultra tantrums! After another high section the route drops down into Osmotherley, gorgeous little place. Our drop bag awaited us in the busy village hall along with more smiley marshals and competitors. My weapon of choice in ultras is sausage rolls so I scranned about 5 washed down with coke. Ed had packed pizza but struggled to get it down, he’d been eating Jamaica ginger cake throughout the run- I’d found that too sticky to manage.
After a brief stop we continued on, it’s great to be 30 or so miles in but there was still basically a marathon to go so it’s a mixed feeling. There’s a climb out of Osmotherley and you’re up high again, stunning views. I felt a bit nauseous at this point and was beginning to regret having quite so many sausage rolls. Eventually the feeling passed and following a very long section of moorland I began to hit my stride. It was getting dark and the next major checkpoint was at the White Horse. This section literally felt like it went on forever! I felt fine and we were treated to a beautiful sunset but I think once it’s getting dark and the end is almost in sight it can feel a bit of a slog. We made it to White Horse and from there was around 9 miles to go. After a couple of cups of coke and a few jelly babies we climbed up the steps to continue on. I was buzzing at this point and was really putting the hammer down. The gps was a life saver once we met the road as it wasn’t obvious where the footpath went. With it being dark and folk being tired I think this was the trickiest section for navigation. We melts passing fellow runners and had a little group going with 3/4 miles to go.
Ed had a bit of a meltdown here and struggled to keep up but hats off to his navigation, it was on point throughout. I was feeling the best I’d felt the whole race and was really trying to push on. Luckily after some coke Ed got it together and we pushed on ahead through fields and farmland to Helmsley. One of the best finishes ever, you pop out in Helmsley and finish in the town hall. We were so proud to finish in 12.35 and after a hot coffee and some rice pud for Ed we headed back to the hotel for a well deserved rest.
The next day we drove to the White Horse and climbed the stairs to see the view that we’d missed in the dark.
Overall it was a fantastic day out. The marshals really made it, the route was easy to follow and easy to run. Will defo be doing this again and looking at some of the others in the series.