Hardmoors 55 & leaderboard updates

Apologies for the delay – a couple of things got in the way of processing results and uploading them this month. Here they are at last. Not many people did the H55, so the leaderboard currently looks a little sparse.

You can find Karen’s race report here. Sarah’s is included below…


HARDMOORS 55 – 23rd March 2024

Hardmoors 55, Guisborough to Helmsley along the Cleveland Way, according to my watch 53.3 miles with 8,570ft elevation, one of the few Hardmoors events without the bonus miles! The weather can be anything in North Yorkshire in March.

It’s my second time doing this race, the first time was 2019 into a named storm. Forecast for the day was 45-50 mph gusts from the West and temperature 3 degrees feels like -3 on Roseberry Topping with warmer temperatures in the valleys. A tricky one to get right with layering.

I stayed over in Thirsk the night before to get the 0600 coach from Helmsley to the start. Driving up Sutton Bank with a nearly full moon and the rising sun was stunning, I was wondering how I would be feeling next time I’m here.

The Helmsley Castle car park was busy for 0530, thankfully, a toilet was open, and the parking machine was working. Everyone was in good spirits. Buses left at 0600 on the dot as promised. It was a scenic drive looking up at some of the route from the bus and the weather was sunny and clear at this stage. Arriving in Guisborough, the cold hit you, it was chilly. The registration and kit check were efficient and seamless. Absolutely thrilled that the massive lavatory queue was for the men’s.

Jon Steele gave a thorough race brief, welcoming Runfurther, noting other running companies at checkpoints to look out for (the Chalklands Way directors, Mel and Grant of Ultratrails lucked out and were on Roseberry Topping, Punk Panther’s Mark was at Kildale). There were name mentions for competitors who had done the first edition of the race in 2010 (Runfurthers Karen Nash was amongst them).

It was very cold during the brief and I was keen to get moving. As ever, I was questioning my clothing options; I’d gone for long sleeve, a wind proof, with a fairly thick waterproof and my best gloves. Finally, we were off, starting down the disused railway line, then up the track to join the Cleveland Way. The cold wind took your breath away on the exposed areas above Guisborough but I was starting to cook in my waterproof so I packed it away (it didn’t come back out). Coming off High Cliff Nab then on to the moors, the first of my markers came into view, Roseberry Topping (the Yorkshire Matterhorn), an out and back check point.



It was great to see the fast people making the ascent and descent look easy (Karen being one of them). Mel and Grant were getting wind battered at the top but were so cheerful and supportive. I decided to take a more direct route down as the path was busy now, not something I have the skill or shoes for. The field was spreading out now as we headed towards Captain Cook’s monument.

At the Kildale checkpoint, I was straight into kit check, grabbed my drop bag and straight out. Knowing that there is a long drag up to Bloworth Crossing, I got started into my drop bag picnic, cheese sandwiches with mango chutney. As it flattens out at the top, the side wind was so strong it was hard to keep a straight line. In my head I’m thinking this next section feels long and never-ending and I just had to get through it, head down and get on. It was beautiful and sunny at least! The track up to the hairpin turn had recently been filled with loose rubble to even it out, it made it tricky, I had to be careful not to trip or roll an ankle.  Picture from a few years ago, to be honest they probably needed to repair it (Photo E). 

I was excited to see the back of Bloworth and a quick respite from the wind dropping down into Clay Bank. On the first steps up to Wainstones my legs felt heavy and sad. I’ve just noticed on the map that it’s called Hasty Bank, haha, it really wasn’t. In the shelter it felt warm. With my legs screaming I could see a checkpoint appearing – halfway up the hill!! These volunteers and marshall’s are incredible, lugging tables, massive bottles of water and snacks up there, so impressive! I grabbed 3 Jaffa cakes and a cake (I’m all about the nutrition) and headed up to what I knew would be my worst section, the Three Sisters, a series of straight ups and downs with an added hill on the end up Carlton Bank. As expected, the wind was strong and made my eyes water and struggling to see the terrain was not great for someone who is renowned for tripping up. I was in complete awe of the numerous people that effortlessly trotted past me. I was impressed with some great pole work; I’m starting to wonder if I should dabble in this, or is it something else to trip over?

The part between Gold Hill and Round Hill (past the burial mounds) on the way down to Scugdale was great, mostly gentle downhill but more flagstones to trip on. After another checkpoint in Scugdale, more handfuls of biscuits and I’m off, running down the easy road towards the field (which had recently been extremely muddy). A lovely volunteer directed me to the field.  They had made a cardboard sign that read ‘the steps of doom await you.’ The field was not bad at all, the couple of windy days had dried it out nicely (cattle being moo’ved (sorry) would have helped too). Through the up and down woodland, and to the steps (of doom). Not really steps just a steep incline with wooden horizontal posts (maybe to stop the soil from washing to the bottom). I don’t mind this bit, the track through the woods is easy going and lots of wildlife to keep it interesting. A jolly marshall showed me across the road onto Scarth Wood Moor a mile or so from the Osmotherley checkpoint. I packed my best most expensive torch in my non-returnable drop bag, so I was relieved to be nearly there. (I had a lighter head torch in my bag for kit check compliance). It was also a good reminder to finish the food in my pack before I arrive. I was now struggling to eat and breath going up the hill, cheese sandwich crumbs flying out with every breath, not my finest moment.

I get to the top and a family are tucked in sheltered by a wall, they shouted that I was 4th female. ‘Oh no,’ I thought, my stomach churned, I was trying to enjoy the run and not be competitive, but I knew I would start mulling that over. My watch was set up slightly differently, the face option didn’t show time or distance and I was enjoying the freedom of it.  

The Osmotherley checkpoint in the village hall felt so calm, I was aware that I could get stuck in the comfort of it so decided I wasn’t going to stay long. Quick kit check, rest break, drop bag (with beloved torch) and grab a slice of pizza and 2 coconut biscuits for the climb to Square Corner.

I knew the Cleveland Way continued through an archway in a row of terrace houses, I couldn’t see it. The marshalls on the road recognised my gormless look and pointed me to it. The track is so odd you feel like you are going into someone’s home. The track then gets to the back fields where it’s flag stones again and a steep short descent to a bridge over the river and then up, along and up again. The pizza went down very well. The coconut biscuits were a bit tricky, so dry and not enough flavour to spark any saliva (normally my favourite biscuits), it seemed to take me a few miles to finish them.

It was cloudy now and feeling a bit cooler, not as cheery as earlier in the day. Marshall’s were at Square Corner to point us up towards Black Hambleton. They had one of the notorious Hardmoors’ signs ‘You’re not even halfway yet’… “we definitely are” I said (not in the mood for this to be true!). They laughed and said everyone had that reaction.

On the stoney path up from Square Corner I started to feel my feet blistering. This was probably the time when I first started to think about distances. I was feeling tired mentally and physically. With maybe 17 miles to go, I knew I had to get over it. I had a caffeine bullet and either that or the biscuits and pizza kicked in and I was off again.

I was focussed now on getting through the bit I don’t enjoy leading to the top of Sutton Bank and then to the White Horse. I forgot about the Sneck Yate checkpoint, I had just chomped through yet another cheese sandwich as I approached and went straight through, I had everything I needed. The views here are stunning and as the sun was low, it gave it dimension. Everyone was walking any slight incline by now.

Finally approaching Sutton Bank, more amazing and jolly marshall’s showing us the new route across the road. Now near the glider field, it was possible to see the people who have already done the White Horse coming back on their final section. One missed the turning, I shouted but they carried on, thankfully, a very loud whistle from a fellow competitor kept them right. It was a boost to see the fast people and excitedly fist bumping the people I knew. I took the descent off the side of the bank very slowly; each angled step aggravated a different blister. (I’m trying different shoes and these ones aren’t quite the right size).

A quick fill of coke at the bottom of the White Horse and it’s the final-ish hill. Wow, the height of each step felt excessive. Just beside me someone who had just had a soup at the bottom threw up impressively, body clearly couldn’t deal with digestion and the step height. After that, they were off and away!

There were more lovely people on the last section. I was feeling a bit of nausea, and my feet were quite uncomfortable, but it was still light. Down the rough roads and then tarmac roads by Rievaulx. After telling someone that there was only a slight uphill into the wood and no steps left to do, I was surprised how my brain picks and chooses what it remembers. The ‘slight up’ that I recalled was actually a very long uphill and yes there were more steep up and down steps, oops, apologies for the completely inaccurate recollection to that person.

It was now dusk and I turned on my head torch on at the final chalky track into Helmsley. I was hoping to get a picture of the full moon with Helmsley Castle but the moon was hidden by clouds.

Now on the tarmac of Helmsley roads, I was panicked that I couldn’t remember the last bit. I was so grateful to see a Hardmoors arrow near the church. As I turned onto the final road my little toe blister burst, oooouuch! It feels like you are on the wrong road as it’s so dark up there. Finally, I started to see the reflections on the marshalls’ jackets and lights, I was quite emotional now and so glad it’s nearly done.

And I’m at the finish. Yeah! Greeted by Anthony Gerundini who congratulated me and was a good distraction from the nausea that doubled as I entered the hot room. I was handed my time slip and was very happy to knock an hour off my previous time… wondering if I have beaten Mr C’s time from the previous year…not competitive at all!

I sat in front of the dot watching screen, looked up and was surprised to see I was 3rd female. I hadn’t been told so thought it might be an error, it wasn’t! Delighted. And to top it off a Runfurther spot prize- perfect.  It was a great day out, the organisation was perfect, volunteers and marshalls were brilliant and route and people were fantastic.  

There were some excellent times in spite of it being a little blowy over the tops:-

1st and 1st MV 50 Steve Bateson in 7:54:57

2nd Chris Andrade in 8:19:58

3rd Iain Ward in 8:21:55

1st MV 60 Bill Crowther in 11:14:49

1st MV 70 Andy Cole in 15:18:47


1st Samantha Davies in 9:12:59

2nd Sarah Duffy in 10:40:48

3rd Sarah Challans in 10:54:19

1st FV 50 Karen Saward in 12:21:51

1st FV 60 Karen Nash in 12:11:34


1st “Scrambled legs” in 9:10:35