September 17th 2016. Well over a month ago now as I write this (and almost a year to publish).Thankfully the arse chafing has cleared up. Even more unbelievable is that that was only issue I had to complain about after completing the Hardmoors 60. Yes, I completed it… The T-Shirt is mine! No blisters, no black toe nails, no rubbed nipples … Even my legs were still moving reasonably well at the end. Chuffed. To. Bits. I’ll keep this brief so as not To drag it out.
The night before the race wasn’t great … My wife decided to paint a bedroom that day and it took her ALL day … So instead of me packing and checking my kit after work I was actually in charge of the kids (2 and 6 months). Stressed doesn’t even cover it! Packing started at 9pm so no chance of a relaxing few hours before bed.
Along with the mandatory items of kit that you must carry with you, you are allowed two drop bags – one to collect at the Runswick Bay checkpoint and the second at Ravenscar.
Packing done, packing triple checked, alarm set, bed.
We arrived at Guisbrough around 7.15am for registration and kit check which we were through without issue. The race briefing didn’t start until 8am so it was 8.20 by the time we all shuffled out for the start. I wasn’t feeling too nervous … I just wanted to get it underway. The weather was perfect and forecast to remain that way. It’s at this point I should have got my watch zoomed in on a GPS signal but I totally forgot about it until we started moving and then on this day, just to really piss me off, it took ages to get locked on to a satellite. First world problems eh!
This was our tactical plan for the race: set off slow -don’t get caught up near the front and go off too quick. Take it steady all day … Eat and drink plenty… Walk the hills … Make sure we finish.
Heading out of Guisborough towards the first checkpoint at Highcliffe Nab means crossing a stile in the first half mile. 150 people getting over a stile means we all slow down and form an orderly que. I knew we’d keep near the back of the bunch but I was suprised to see the sweepers only about 20 metres behind us at this point! Dave and I both agreed we didn’t really want the’Grim Reapers’ so close on our tail so once through the Checkpoint we started moving up the pack a little as we ran the 9 miles to the next checkpoint at Saltburn.
After a few pieces of water melon and a mouthful of coke we are on our way again. We climbed the steps out of Saltburn onto the Cleveland Way …familiar territory for the next 25 miles or so …we had the sea on our left and that’s pretty much how it would stay now to Filey.
We made good progress to Skinningrove and onto Staithes before reaching the first checkpoint at Runswick Bay. Looking back, we spent too long here sitting in the sun, eating the contents (sausage rolls mainly) of our drop bags and drinking iron bru.
Whitby was the next stop – the halfway point. Further than I’d ever ran before. If you’ve never been to Whitby it’s a beautiful seaside town but let me tell you that on a weekend it’s crazy busy. We stopped for a bottle of coke which we drank as we made our way though the crowds, over the bridge and up the 199 steps. We spotted other competitors queuing at the ice cream van but I’d already had my fill of food so we pushed on.
I was now into unknown territory. I’d never ran this far south on the Cleveland Way. Still, we were both feeling good. No issues to deal with. Just keep moving.
I remember Dire Straits ‘Sultans of Swing’ was being played at the Robin Hoods Bay checkpoint as we approached and they had orange quarters which were just the best tasting thing imaginable by that point.
Next stop Ravenscar. And a bloody big climb to get there! The only saving grace was that we knew there was hot food at this checkpoint and our second drop bags would be waiting for us.
After a lot of faffing, coffee a pizza we were on our way. I’d put a long sleeved top on now ready for the evening but decided not to change my socks on the basis that they weren’t giving me any bother. We left Ravenscar, got back onto the Cleveland Way and settled in to a steady run with Scarbrough the next checkpoint. This is the point where some negative thoughts started creeping in. We had seen the lights of Scarbrough in the distance then we lost them for what seemed like an eternity as we descended and ascended in the dark.
Finally we approached Scarbrough sea front … We just had to get from the North end to the South end where the checkpoint was. No open top bus for us. This is where I started to struggle to keep running. I was counting lampposts and I knew that Dave was feeling stronger and I was holding him back but it’d been a bloody long day of running and I needed a short walk. We made it to the checkpoint. Coca cola never tasted so good! We must have faffed for a good ten minutes filling bottles and checking the charge on my watch then we were on our way. 53 miles clocked with Just the last section now from Scarbrough to Filey. It probably wouldn’t be good for our spirits if we took a wrong turn now would it. To be fair the paths and the instructions were a little confusing. Once we were back on track I realised I lost one of the soft flask bottles from my running vest. It must have come out when I removed my vest to check the map. Fortunately I had another full of water. The bottle left behind was full of lovely tropical flavour mountain fuel mix which I was really pissed off about but it never crossed my mind to go back … Onwards to Filey. We knew that we could walk this last section and make the cut-off time so we didn’t push too hard. We came into the village hall to a round of applause after 17hrs. Collected our t shirt and medal, had a cup of tea and some chilli and we were back outside for our lift home.
It was a brilliant day. A day when everything seems to go right. I guess in a race of this distance you can’t take anything for granted. We had done the training. We stuck to the plan of taking it steady. We ate and drank regularly. The weather was on our side all day … That was a huge factor. This run would be hell in high winds and rain.
We were never interested in how long this race took us, the plan was to just finish it. It was only afterwards that we realised just how much accumulated time we had spent at the checkpoints (1hr 30) that we thought, yep – we’ll have another crack at that only next time we’ll set a time target.