Happy New Year to you all. If anyone feels the urge to write up any of their ultra runs, we’d be delighted to post them here on the website, or post a link to them if you’ve already got a home for them. Photos too! In the meantime, here’s one of mine…
On New Year’s Day 200 runners got up early, despite whatever they’d been up to the night before, and headed to Robin Hood’s Bay on the North Yorkshire coast to run 30 miles. This was the Hardmoors 30, one of John Steele’s excellent races in and around the North York Moors National Park. And it was a great idea to hold it on January 1st, to get the year off to a good start and get rid of some of the Christmas lethargy.
The race route is a simple one, without much need for navigation. There’s a disused railway line between Scarborough and Whitby, parallel to the coast, and of course there’s a coastal path, part of the Cleveland Way. The race starts north up the old railway to Whitby, so the running is fast, with plenty of space to overtake and also good views. You leave the tracks at Checkpoint 1, then run down through the town, past the station, over ther river, then up a very steep cobbled track to Whitby Abbey. Then it’s coastal path back to Robin Hood’s Bay and Checkpoint 2. If you’ve run rocky coastal paths before you’ll know what to expect: great views and a lot of short steep ups and downs. Hard work but never boring.
From CP2 it’s back to the old railway southwards to CP3 at Ravenscar, then on to CP4 at Hayburn Wyke. You leave the railway here, and in a few minutes you’re back on the coastal path heading northwards again, to CP5 at Ravenscar, then Robin Hood’s Bay again, where you have to haul your ravaged body all the way up the steep main street through the tourists from the sea up to the finish at the top of the village.
It was my first time for this race. Last year I’d been visiting my mother in Scarborough for New Year, and went out for a run up the coast. I met the race coming the other way, not knowing it was on. So it was a no-brainer this year to combine it with another visit to Scarborough. I went down with a cold and cough the evening after the Tour de Helvellyn, and got through Xmas on paracetamol, codeine, Benylin and alcohol, so I’d not run for 11 days and wasn’t sure I was fit enough to run at all. So I turned up, as you do, and found the race was full of people I knew, as seems to happen at most races I got to these days. It was warm as well – the car thermometer said 9 degrees – so I changed into my shorts before setting off.
The first section up to Whitby was delightful, easy running on fresh legs. I’d started somewhere in the middle of the pack, so I was overtaking all the way to Whitby. The coastal path back to Robin Hood’s Bay went well too – really enjoyable running. Then it was back on the old railway, and soon the enthusiasm was wearing off. The views weren’t as good along here, and it goes on for miles and miles. I can only take so much of flat running on easy surfaces before I’m bored and fed up, and by Hayburn Wyke my legs had started to stiffen up as well, probably because of my 11-day layoff. The coastal path came as a relief and was much more enjoyable, but I couldn’t run at more than a slow jog by now, and people were passing me for the last few miles. I finished with some relief, grabbed a tea and collapsed onto one of the many chairs – as I said, John knows how to organise a race. No sooner had I sat down than I had to get up again though, for John to present me with a trophy for First Old Man (OK, first MV60). While Chris Davies is away, the mice will play! 46th out of 192 finishers, in 5:09:44. I’ll be back in 2016 – thanks John.
Ben Hamilton was first home in 3:43:01, and Heather Mochrie was first woman in 4:39:18. There were plenty of Runfurther regulars at the race, including Martin Terry, who was first MV50 in 4:19:34. Full results here, and there are SportSunday photos here.
Ultras coming up this month (see Ultra Calendar for links):
1. The Spine, starting on Saturday (10 Jan). Good luck to you all – looks like conditions might not be too bad this year, although I’ve not checked the weather forecast.
2. Winter Tanners on Sunday (11 Jan), 30 miles in the North Downs organised by the local LDWA branch. At £4 for LDWA members this is the cheapest ultra in the calendar, only 13p per mile. Hats off to the organisers.
3. Country to Capital on Saturday week (17 Jan). This one’s been full for ages, 45 miles all inside the M25, finishing along a canal towpath into the middle of London. It’s organised by the same team that run the Northants Ultra that was in the 2013 and 2014 Runfurther Champs.
4. CTS Anglesey Ultra also on the 17th. 34 miles of coastal path, organised by Endurance Life.
5. Marmot Dark Mountains, 24 January. A Mountain Marathon in the dark. This year’s location is the Howgills.
6. Wilmot Wander, Sunday 25th. 32 miles round Derby, with more than a bit in common with the Round Rotherham 50 – a mix of farmland, industrial and town cyclepath. Organised by the local scout group, this is the event that cracked my shinbone last year – I managed only the first 4 miles.
7. The Pilgrim Challenge, 31 Jan. 2 days and 66 miles along the North Downs Way. This one’s full too.
8. Peddar’s Way Ultra, also 31 Jan. 47 miles in Norfolk, and this one’s full as well.