Hardmoors 60 – 2016

20 Sep 2016 by Henry, 2 Comments »

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In 2012 I almost completed the Hardmoors Grand Slam – a series of ultra-marathons consisting of the Hardmoors 30, Hardmoors 55, Hardmoors 110 and Hardmoors 60. Unfortunately, an injured foot stopped me when I was half way around the Hardmoors 60. That was the final race: I had completed 225 miles and had to jack it in with only 30 to go. That wasn’t fun.

In 2016 I was unable to compete in the Hardmoors 30 on New Year’s Day, but I did have a clear run at the 55, 110 and 60, which together make a challenge in their own right – the Triple Ring. I completed the 55 in March and the 110 in April, so I was now only the Hardmoors 60 away from completing the challenge. With my 2012 experience in mind I took nothing for granted as I set out to claim a ‘highly coveted’ Hardmoors Triple Ring hoody.

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I had not run during the four months since the Hardmoors 110. A variety of other obligations, combined with tendonitis in my right knee, conspired to make my training for this race negligible; I felt as physically unprepared as I ever have been, while a stressful week before the race meant that I did not devote enough time to mental preparation.

Which is why, after a delayed start in Guisborough,  a seemingly endless ‘rest break’ in Guisborough Woods, and a knee that was threatening to get really unhappy, I found myself, eight miles in, at the tail of the field having a serious word with myself about whether or not I was going to continue. The knee was beginning to feel tender, and with 54 miles to go, it began to seem unwise to run on a joint that did not want any part in the adventure. On the other hand, I really did not want another race series to slip through my fingers/toes. After much deliberation, I concluded that there was no point starting something if you were not going to finish it; if I was to be laid up for a fortnight, so be it, and at least I’d be nice and warm in the new, highly coveted Hardmoors Triple Ring hoody. 

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I was running with Robbie ‘Longest Try‘ Dolan. To coincide with the Rugby League World Cup next year and on behalf of Roald Dahl’s children’s charity, he is going to run the 1118 miles from Melbourne to Brisbane in 42 days. With a rugby ball. We caught up with what had been going on in each other’s lives and more importantly, he got me up to speed with the exhaustive planning and exhausting training that goes into an undertaking like ‘The Longest Try’.  It is a monumental undertaking and I advise everyone to check it out.

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As we ran through Saltburn, my mum who had come out to support us for the day, complained that we had taken too long. Chastised, we sped up, slightly, and moved onto the clifftops that take you to Skinningrove, Runswick Bay, Staithes, Sandsend and then Whitby. I was acutely aware that I was not moving at all quickly and felt guilty for holding Robbie up. He said he did not mind and had no problem sticking with my pace for the sake of a half an hour’s difference in finishing time. I thus felt doubly guilty, as if I was feeling quicker, I probably wouldn’t have felt the same!  Nonetheless, he nobly dragged me along the Cleveland Way and by the time we were at Whitby Abbey we had spent the best part of the day, bathed in sun.

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The next stretch over Robin Hoods Bay, through Ravenscar and onto Scarborough is notorious for its hidden valleys: places like Boggle Hole and Hayburn Wyke where you descend then ascend 400ft on very rough terrain while only gaining 400 yards in horizontal distance. On this stretch of the Cleveland Way you are never more than a couple of miles away from places like that. They are energy draining and sap your morale if you are unprepared for them. We trudged onward, fuelled by trail mix and bizzare stories about Australian insects. 

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We reached Scarborough as the sun set. I tried to get there without switching my headtorch on, but with a couple of miles still to go, and a couple of cliffs almost unsuccesfully negotiated, I decided I ought to turn mine on. At this moment, as we ran onto the long stretch of Scarborough sea front, the most phenomenal moon I have ever seen rose out of the sea and guided us to the final checkpoint.

The route here had been redirected by the marshals because a high tide was racing over the path and goggles had not been on our mandatory kit list. We were directed towards a long network of steps behind Scarborough Spa where we vaguely headed in the direction where I thought the Cleveland Way should be. Inevitably then, there were several wrong turnings. When these had been corrected and enough time wasted we finally found ourselves on the final stretch.

The last nine or so miles to Filey are always a struggle. But by now there is no doubt that you will finish, because Filey is the only available place left in which to pull out and get picked up. As the glow of  the town gets nearer it feels as though the Cleveland Way is taking you further away from it. There are repeated conversations about it ‘surely being around the next headland’  only to discover it is not, and that the coming headland has in fact been replaced by two new headlands. Nonetheless, as with everything, the end arrived and there we were on Filey Brig. Here you drop down into one last quad-trashing ravine, before – now fuelled with the elation of an imminent finish –  jollying onto the sea front, up a road, past groups of drunken women who want you to know that they think you’re stupid for running, and across the line: where, at last, you reach the enormous buffet about which you have been dreaming all day, and more importantly . . . the highly coveted Hardmoors Triple Ring hoody.20160920_190917

This was a really interesting race. I was distracted by other things and was not feeling a hundred per cent beforehand.  It is one that five years ago I probably would not have finished. I am pleased that I did. And having completed the Triple Ring, I am pleased to find that my knee now feels as well as it has done all summer. Can it be that running nearly 64 miles fixes knees? Don’t quote me on that.

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2 Comments

  1. Good job on getting the triple ring challenge. Not to be mistaken for the ‘ring of fire’ hot chilli challenge.

  2. will long says:

    Also not to be mistaken for the ‘silver ring thing’ pre-marital sexual abstinence challenge.

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