The Hardmoors 110 is a 111 mile run along the Cleveland Way from Helmsley to Filey.
My journey to the Hardmoors 110 began on Sunday 22nd March – the day after the Hardmoors 55. Feeling pretty disappointed, I decided a new type of training was needed. My typical training for the last year, and particularly the winter months was a daily 20 mile flat round trip cycle to work across central London and one run at the weekend – usually between 20-30 miles. The early winter months of 2015 were a time of reflection for me following the sad death of my wonderful Granddad Barkworth, Gordon, in December and just weeks later, my beautiful Grandma Barkworth, Betty. Spending those cold and dark winter days running across the snow topped Lakes, Yorkshire Dales and North York Moors alone, seeing barely a sole all day, I found solace. I was at peace.
I wanted to give the 110 my all this year. Despite finishing last year I knew I had more to give. It was time for a training plan. I passed over the calendar to Casper and asked him to write me a 9 week plan for the 110. It looked like this…
Fast forward 9 weeks and I was pretty excited to be on that start line (having had a lingering chest injection and sickness virus in the last 7 days!). I honestly believe unless an illness makes you physically incapable of getting to a start line once you start it is completely irrelevant.
I really love the start of the Hardmoors races. It is such a happy atmosphere. Although I could sense a little fear of the unknown in the 110 registration room.
My race plan was as follows:
- Eat continuously
- Take one checkpoint at a time
- Don’t waste energy talking (I know this is a bit unsociable, but I wanted to give this my all!)
- Arrive at Saltburn feeling strong
I felt ready. As we toed the start line I saw Kim and Heather. We had a very brief “hello and good luck” before we were off!
The hardest part of the first 20 miles was pacing myself – especially as they are relatively flat. A quick water refill at the White Horse (and some excited encouragement from Bex Cross)
I was soon at Osmotherley square corner and on my way from Osmotherley to Lord Stones.
All the supporters were looking out for everyone and checking we were fed and watered – especially Jayson Cavill and Rob Ford (thanks guys!)
I was actually looking forward to the 3 sisters as it was a beautiful clear day – the views on a clear day are just wonderful up there. I really did take the opportunity to take a good look around and appreciate the beauty.
Down into the Clay Bank checkpoint and there came my favourite moment of the day so far –smiley waving big C! (The plan was for Casper to first meet me at Saltburn, so to see him here was such a wonderful surprise!) I was so happy to see him – not just because I had run out of chicken and apple sauce sandwiches!
On nearing the top of Clay Bank I saw 2 yellow t-shirts which I thought might be Sarah Booth and Andy Norman. It was. We had a brief chat, a few words of encouragement, and I was on my way.
I really started to settle in the run on the trail over to Blowath and into Kildale. Casper was there again at Kildale. This was the first time I saw the true magnificence of the spread he had put on. I’m talking spinach with ricotta, chicken thighs and drumsticks, bananas, sweet potato, soup, beetroot juice, coconut water, milkshake, coke, the list goes on and on.
On approaching the Roseberry Topping gate, Kim was just coming out having already been up and down Roseberry. We exchanged a big wave and a smile. That was to be the last I saw of Kim…
I was glad to be in good spirits on my arrival at Roseberry to see Tim and Lisa (Tim unfortunately had seen me in a distraught mess on last year’s Lakeland 100 which he periodically like to remind me of!)
It was great to arrive at Saltburn feeling relatively strong. I spent a bit longer here, but this was part of the plan. It was 8pm and the ideal time to sort myself out for the night. Last year, I’m still unsure as to why, it took me 6.5 hours to roam the 17 miles from Saltburn to Sandsend. So I knew I needed to focus. I cleaned my feet, changed my socks and top, had warm soup and coke, put my gloves and fleece on, then Johnny Cash and I were on our way…
And it worked! – I arrived at Sandsend at 1pm and had 2 yummy cups of sugary tea from the Langstones.
Somewhere between Whitby and Robin Hood’s bay I turned my head torch off. To be out on those cliffs, completely alone, without a sole in sight, as the sun rose out from the North Sea horizon was just magical. I could have stayed out in that moment forever. Like many moments along the way I overwhelmed with emotion.
Once I got to Ravenscar I knew I was on the home straight! Although just about everything seemed crank up a notch pain wise just after Hayburn Wyke. I was really pushing now. I was starting to completely crash when I got to Burniston (a couple of miles north of Scarborough). I decided it was time start on the magic caffeine gels. I emptied my pockets of nuts and sandwiches and stuffed them with gels.
I knew that promenade was going to hurt – but not as much as side traversing down that evil staircase at Cayton Bay – at which point I began to curse Mr Steele! (Yes, out loud!)
It was wasn’t really until just before Filey Brigg I realised what time it was. And then there it was. The BRIGG. Those Hardmoors flags. And The FINISH.
26 hours and 33 minutes. A PB on last year by 4 hours and 6 minutes! I could not believe it! I was and I am one very happy girl!
Apparently I was saying things like “don’t ever let me run that race again” and “right now I never feel like running again”.
As I write this, on the Tuesday morning train down to London, my rose tinted glasses are already firmly placed upon my still sleepy eyes. I take the train from Leeds to London every week. But this morning felt different. As I sat on the Jubilee line out to Canary Wharf I felt I wasn’t really there. Like I was just an observer watching the busy city from afar. Those post ultra blues. The feeling of emptiness. The over-whelming need to be back on the trials. That nothing else mattered. I guess it is time to construct that 9 week training plan for the Lakeland 100…
Generous and wonderful picture credits: Ann Brown, Louise Luna Galvin, Casper Kaars Sijpesteijn, Jon Steele.