Sunday, 20 January 2013

Hardmoors 30 New Years Day.

Hardmoors 30.

Three years ago, when Jon Steel the Hardmoors race director  put this race together for New Year’s day ;  I immediately asked him to put it back a day!
See I’ve always liked the captain cooks fell race that day. Captain cook is just great. A wonderful atmosphere ,small field of worse for wear club runners ,registration in a pub in the lovely little village of Great Ayton and a fairly simple race up to Captain cooks monument and back , taking in of course steep muddy climbs and descents.  All followed by ale or two and a pub lunch.

But the 30 beckoned. I duly gave up CC and headed to some of the highest cliffs in England. I wasn’t fit and was coming back from the third foot break but felt confident I was over that. After all on the 27th of December I had done a fairly tough fell race through deep mud and snow and all was well.  
Start 2013.

Back then  a decent field of about 30 set of on the first loop and toddled along. A few miles after the first cp at about 7 miles (which is back at the start) Dave Robson and someone else came up behind me and I was just sort of shouting something to him when I felt my foot go again. All I’d done was stand on a small rock. At once, without a single doubt I knew my foot had broken again for the fourth time.
I can’t tell you how gutted I was. 
Ravenscar Bay (the start) 

So after most of the year recovery I did captain cooks again, but straight after went to help out at Hardmoors. I’d only been in the village hall a minute when Shirl asked to do the prize giving as Jon, not being too well was still out on the course.  After, someone said next year flip?  Not a chance I said not tempting fate with this one. 
Start 2013

Thought i wouldn't make it mind. Like a fair few i got wiped out the day before Christmas eve by a virus nad was knocked for a six. I only started to feel normal again on the weekend.

But 2013 New year’s day and I’m picking up a club mate to head once again to the beautiful Ravenscar bay instead of the lovely captain cooks race.  Heck it was bitterly cold as we parked by the hall and  I was surprised to see lots of folk going off in the 9am group supposedly for slower runners and walkers!  My first job then was to call all of them cheats and charlatan’s!  :-)
An hour later us the supposedly  non-slow runners and or walkers J (more of this later) all lined up in beautiful crisp sunshine and told to bugger of by Jon.  Once we turned onto the coast and Cleveland way we were out the bitter wind and heading south. I started chatting to Maria, a friend who wither husband Roger run the Dukeries Ultra down Nottingham way. 
First couple miles : 

I was surprised when Maria informed me she would pull out when we had done the loop back to Ravenscar as she wasn’t right and a few miles and down hills had confirmed this. When you know you know I said. Not in any hurry we chatted about the TRI I had spotted she was doing in Ireland and some other stuff I wanted to do.  It’s one of the few that I can fit in but at the moment I don’t want to get draw into anything until after my 3 big summer races. (Problem is everything seems full if you wait too long to enter)
I also took lots some photos for the website and FB page and to put out on twitter later. ( I look after  these for Jon) . I called back a couple of runners who almost went wrong at
Heyburn Wake

turn and headed back along the railway lines to Ravenscar. As you can see I wasn’t in any hurry really and I decided I was actually starting to enjoy myself. 

Soon after Ravenscar i was again on the railway lines. About here I caught up with Rob K and Rob J. K was having a tough time as his back was not in good shape.  I was informed by J that K wasn’t for quitting despite the pain he was clearly in. So I ran with them. This is unusual as I normally like to run on my own but despite being on railway lines which I detest with a passion the company and crack was so good the miles flew by and I even missed the point my foot had broken!
Me with ravenscar bay in the background. :
Next CP, was the Beautiful little coast town of Robin Hoods Bay, didn’t dally too much and out passed the pub Dave had a pint waiting for me in the 110 in what seems like an age ago. Back to the railway lines or to give it its proper name, the cinder tack. After a couple of miles it was clear K’s back was not getting any better and I bid the Robs farewell.  If I take one thing form this race, it will be thankful for meeting these two extraordinary lads. 

So running at a good clip now-it’s the only way i find this is the only way to lose these horrible straight lines! You can see the wonderful Whitby Abbey silhouetted against the sky from miles out here but as the track takes you to the west of the town it never seems to get nearer!

Whitby over to the far right.
Finally get to the tracks end and then waste any time I had made (not that I was bothered) by chatting to Jon.  While running I’d be thinking about this start. 

(Boring race rules bit )

When Jon initially said walkers could start of at 9am, slower runners were soon allowed to join them. Fair enough. However most of the runners in the 9am group were just folk who saw the opportunity to finish early and in the light so they could enjoy more of the day. I know i wanted a few Jars in the pub after. 
No problem there of course, most of us could not care less about the prizes seeing as we have little chance in winning them but what if a contender went off with them?. I know  year ones winner back for another crack, had worked this out and was scouring the starters for any known ‘fast uns’. He’d worked out that going of early is an advantage. 

It is a good point as well. Starting at 9am would mean the ground which (I’ll come to this soon) would not be churned up by 50 odd runners with aggressive trail shoe soles. (Think your worst cross country after 5 laps). For the ones not likely to be in the prizes for the 30, they may of course have a chance at the series prize and their advantage would be less mud and no darkness. Got to be quicker.  One more point, if one of our fast ones had gone in the 9am group then the dynamics of actual racing would be lost. ie,  looking at the guy in front and thinking he’s tiring I’ll take him in the last mile etc.  You could also have a case where a 10 am starter might just think he’d won the race only to find a 9am starter with a quicker time.
The only solution I could think of was either a time penalty (but what time) or my favoured solution of just saying if you want to be in the prizes you must start on the 10am start. (most like myself would not be bothered )
That’s the problem with Hardmoors; I’m always thinking of any problems that may arise and wondering if everything is alright! Luckily it's Jons problem not mine !

Left Jon and finally headed through Whitby quite amazed at the long queues outside the fish restaurants. I can only assume is a local tradition (and one I approve of) to have a fish supper on New Year’s day.

Up the iconic 199 step and finally onto the Cleveland way with its deep mud and countless steps down to sea level and back up. 

This is more my stuff.  At Robin hoods bay again before I knew it and it was now getting dark. From here the mud was of unparalleled proportions! Heck it was hard going and I love the mud.

Into Ravensacr bay and soon the lights of the little town are visible on the hill, just showing how high up it was. Not quite finished yet though, for the last couple of miles I was quite taken by the

fantastic brightness of the stars. 

In the end I just had to turn my head torch off . Yes I’m running along a muddy cliff top of some of the highest cliffs in England which have fallen away in parts but in the end the stars were just too much of a draw. I stopped just to have a long gaze at them for a while probably barely a mile from the finish. Wonderful.

Would it be nice ot stay i the that fancy hotel on the cliff and do this on the New Year’s Day night after the race (if I can walk-this 30 really did take it out of my legs probably more than some 50’s I’ve done) .

Back at the finish and a wonderful Hardmoors family atmosphere.  All my friends had done well, Mel’s 100th race, the lovely Frans first Ultra (what a one to bloody chose) and no lost souls!! 100 odd finishers and anothr 20 odd in the 15 mile race. Briliant.Never thought we'd see this sort of turnout on New years day but Hardmoors is going from strength to strength.

The stories were all of the mud and guts. Smiles abounded. :-)

So not unduly put out by 30 miles  (not that it was easy , as i said some 50's ive done were easier) and all well in myself. Good start to the year and lets face it i needed one.

Is there any better way to start the year I wonder? Race it next year? …. Maybe.


  1. cant ever see myself racing on nyd, it goes against every scottish vein in my body x