The Hardmoors 60 is part of series of races along the Cleveland Way in the North York Moors, England. The guy who organises it puts on a load of other ultras and marathons throughout the year.
The race is scheduled to be 60 miles but as I soon learnt that with all Hardmoors events, the mileage will vary to include a fair bit more, with hundreds of added stairs. This was closer to 63 for me!
The route starts in Guisborough and runs through lovely small villages, through busy towns, into a rubbish town and finishes in Filey, after running along the coast for most of the full route.
I wanted to do this for the UTMB points, and at the time it was offering 3 old points.
Coming off the back of the CCC I never did any training for this race, I just ticked along with the short easy runs to keep the legs ready for a long jolly along the English coast.
Most of the preparation seemed to go into making a nutrition plan to follow, booking accommodation, and working out a comfortable easy-going pace which would hopefully mean less recovery time after the event, along with no injuries!
Due to the plan being more of a ‘fun run’ than a race I wanted to keep it pretty low key so decided not to tell many people about it.
Word of warning if you’re driving down to Filey from Glasgow, don’t go via Middlesborough, it takes far too long!!!!
We stayed in a beautiful B&B very close to the finish, it was cheap, the owners were incredibly nice to us and it meant I could wake up a little later to get the bus which takes runners to the start – The bus pick up was about a 3 minute walk from the B&B.
1h30m bus journey full of nervous runners at 5.45am!!!! – Luckily there was a toilet on board.
The owners of the B&B had made up a bag for me to take for ‘breakfast’ this included a Jam sandwich, a ham sandwich, 2 kit kats, water, 3 different fruits! It was very generous.
The bus journey wasn’t bad at all, it cost £10 on top of entry which is a good deal, the time passed quick as I spotted a guy I recognised from Ultimate Trails 110km last year so we just chatted the whole way there.
The bus stopped a little walk from the start. On the walk there the marshal said “Please be quiet its early, don’t want to wake the residents up”, I smiled and the guy in front was laughing and she got a bit angry with him.
I popped my Drop Bags in the van without issue and got in the huge queue for kit check and registration. After this I just sat down and ate my sandwiches waiting for the start.
The start got delayed about 20 minutes. I think the start was 8.18am, so I let Vicky know as she was meeting me at some checkpoints along the route with her friend Rae and her puppy.
The only problem with the Scout Hall was how tiny it was, I didn’t bother queuing for the toilet because of this and just figured I can stop off at the first checkpoint if need be.
The race briefing from Jon Steele was good, it seems everyone knows everyone there, a real family atmosphere at this race, it reminded me of the WHW people. They were all fine with the outsider (me) during the race when we got chatting, and luckily they knew the route!
The first few miles climbed up about 700ft in 2 miles. I heard a few funny Yorkshire accents here complaining about the humidity and how long the climb was haha. It was actually really good underfoot on nice trails and not too muddy. The weather was pretty warm but the breeze at the top was a nice relief.
There was meant to be a checkpoint at 2 miles I think, but nothing was there – It seemed strange to have one so early into the race anyway so didn’t mind because they’d be no point stopping at it.
About 5 miles in we were running along some fields and I looked into the woods and saw bare legs and a bare ass, eww. I turned away and just heard the awful sound that came next, jeezo!!!
After a few more miles I needed to go so hopped into the nearest bush 🙂
Saltburn Valley Gardens – 9 miles
Excellent checkpoint, very well stocked, the marshals were literally tripping over each other to help you out, fill your water, give you food etc. Really good checkpoints throughout, loved them all!!!!
Jelly babies and Jaffa Cakes here with a cup of coke, yum!
Finally hit the seaside about 10 miles in which was a nice relief as I had been looking forward to it since the start.
There was a little section of the beach we ran along at ‘Skinningrove’ before climbing back up the cliffs. I had to stop as soon as I got off the beach to get all the sand out of my shoes, its starting coming in through all the rips in the sides (2nd race in this pair of shoes too).
We ran through a beautiful little village called Staithes, this would be a great place to visit when not racing and get an ice cream and just relax, lovely cobbled streets and little shops 🙂
Then onto the beach, along the cliffs, up and down hundreds of uneven steps. Steps were the common theme of this race and by the end of the race I hated every single one of them haha.
The road sections
Runswick Bay – 21 miles
This was there first checkpoint where you could pick up your Drop Bags if you had them. I did because I’m used to them from the Scottish races. Had a snickers and a Hungry Hippo from it, sat down in the back of the marshals van and got all the sand out of my shoes again.
I was getting a little ahead of my race plan. It was easy to get carried away with the running, but I started to find running really exhausting. I haven’t ran properly now for months, mainly focusing on hiking after injury for the CCC so my climbing/hiking legs are alright but no good at running for long periods. I slowed down, walked a bit more and reeled the pace in so the heart rate dropped.
I liked the fact there was no time goals, no pressure for time, it was just a case of enjoying the views, enjoying the run and taking it easy!
Running along the sand here at ‘Runswick Sands’ was great and none of it ended up in my shoes luckily lol, the little climb up the burn was a bit technical so quite fun and a change from the bloody steps.
This was the longest section without a checkpoint at 12 miles. The time flew by as I chatted to a few people, most of them being surprised when I said I came from Glasgow hahahaha. The chat was pretty good along this section and one of the local runners told me about a nice public toilet at Sandsends. I didn’t need to go but used it anyway and was nice to wash my hands after they got really sticky from food!
Approaching Whitby I took a few wrong turns, the signage for the Cleveland Way is similar to the WHW (Posts with an icon on) but not as often. The route wasn’t really marked because you just followed the Acorn signs, but when passing through the towns or villages they were few and far between.
Whitby was mobbed!
Imagine trying to run through it on a sunny day at 3pm, full of thousands of glaikit tourists and rambunctious children! I followed one of the Hardmoors veterans who guided me through the thousands of people, we ran most of it on the road with the cars.
The climb to the church/abbey was about 200 steps, but I got into a good routine because they were all the same size so you could power up them, moving for the walkers coming down them who didn’t fancy moving for you.
I met Vicky and Rae for the first time here, this was a good morale boost.
30 miles in and I’d almost broken the back of it. I was looking forward to getting past halfway knowing a finish was possible. I sat, ate food, drank water and just chatted to them for a while before switching from my pink hat to my blue hat. The trucker hat kept blowing off on the cliffs because it was so windy and super embarrassing trying to pull it back on quickly hoping people didn’t see.
Sun cream on, sunglasses on, and sun hat on… This only lasted about an hour until the sun went away and never came back properly again 😦
Saltwick Bay – 31 miles
This checkpoint was just past Whitby, I spoke to a fair few runners from miles 31 to mile 52 who were just complaining about being sore. I got really sick of it after a while. The complaining started by a guy about 3 minutes before the Saltwick checkpoint and he was moaning about how far away this checkpoint was and how his feet hurt.
Three minutes later I got to the checkpoint, had some food and a cup of coke before quickly leaving.
This next section was actually pretty good! I got lost a few times but nothing major, the main problems was the acorn sign was missing on T junctions etc, but after trail and error it was fine.
I was looking forward to getting to the checkpoint at Robins Hood Bay as I’d heard from a lady at work how beautiful this place was, and it had to be better than Whitby was, and at least a little quieter!
The section here was nice, but when I passed everyone I always said “Ya’right”, I thought this was a rhetorical greeting, but some people were saying how they wanted to quit.
Nom nom nom.
A lot of this route was actually on small roads, this really tired my legs out and my knees were starting to hurt, but I never let anybody else know how I was feeling. I tried to remain positive and enjoy it was much as possible. The roads were indeed taking their toll so it was always good to get back on the trails and cliff tops etc.
“Smile every mile” – Saw that on Anna Frosts shoes.
I passed a bull in a field!!!!!!! That was absolutely TERRIFYING!!! It doesn’t look that big here but it was massive in person.
Robins Hood Bay – 37 miles
Very well stocked checkpoint, and again I took of my shoes and got all the sand/stones out here. The town was quite nice and the crowd support here at the pub was pretty good. The problem was I was on the phone to my friend and ended up leaving the checkpoint the wrong way, after a 1/4 mile a guy front I was following said “WRONG WAY, We need to go back”. I was joking saying it was his fault we took the wrong turn because I was following him and not concentrating. Luckily he knew the way, but unfortunately he was a moany bugger too!! He was wanting to quit and I was trying to encourage him by saying “Its less than a marathon left now, you can do them no bother”… Not really sure why I was doing this as I was tired too! I left him after a few minutes and since leaving him I had no time for people who were having a hard time – Maybe pretty selfish but I didn’t want to be trapped in that downward spiral.
I contemplated telling him a joke but didn’t bother in the end!
“Whats a monkeys favourite cookies?”
“Chocolate chimp cookies”
Hahahahaha! – I’ll use it at another ultra 🙂
Robin Hoods Bay to Ravenscar was only 6 miles and pretty nice, there was a lovely little place called ‘Boggle Hole’ a little pub and a tiny beach. Again no signs so I asked a walkers if I was still on the Cleveland Way. The race had spread out now having just over 200 runners so sometimes you were just running alone, which is fine for all the veterans who do it, but not us newbies!
Before I got to the next checkpoint I was chatting to a nice couple who had done a load of the races, 60s, 110s, 160s etc. They showed me the way on the next section.
I met up with Vicky and Rae again before the checkpoint, they were great as always, I was chatting and gobbling up all my mini chocolate croissants. After I left them they were going to the final checkpoint in Scarborough and I was just heading into the official checkpoint at Ravenscar.
Ravenscar Church Hall – 41 miles
Wow this was the best checkpoint of all, the marshals were again fighting to fill my bottles as quick as possible, they were excellent! Offering around pizza (I had a slice), I had a fair few Cream Egg celebrations, ate my hungry hippo and snickers from my drop bag, went to the toilet and spoke to a guy who was supporting his friend. I saw him later on and he was very encouraging.
The next section for me was the loneliest of the race because I was getting tired and wanted it to be over so I could have a shower, have my Brew Dog and go to bed! To tide me over (tide, lol), I put on The Ginger Runner podcast.
There was this pretty cool bush tunnel to go through, I really liked this and it reminded me from something out of Alice In Wonderland or some Disney movie.
The sky was stunning here! The sun was going down and it looked really nice, I got a few photos of it. What better way to spend a day: Running from sunrise to sunset in lovely weather 🙂
As the sun had gone down I held out for as long as possible before putting my head torch on, but had to when running through the woods as it was pitch black and didn’t fancy falling!
Four of us came up to a fork in the road, with a sign pointing both left and right and an acorn in the middle… We took the left and it worked out to be right – Thank God.
I could see the lights of Scarborough below and was very excited to get to the checkpoint to see Vicky & Rae again! I spoke to a runner here as I passed him, he complained about his legs so I left him to it and carried on running. Once I hit Scarborough I was so excited but it was 3 miles to the checkpoint…. Yes, 3 miles along the front!
I was running alone for quite a long time, there was no runners in front or behind in sight. There was groups of neds kicking around on bikes sitting along the promenade, I got out my phone and called a friend to pass the time. I got fed up and started walking, phoned Vicky a few times to ask her where I’m meant to be walking knowing the checkpoint was on the “Sea front”.. I stuck to the sea front but it went on forever!
After about 15 minutes I hit the ugliest part of the town, it was just like Blackpool, and what you imagine Newcastle to be like on a Saturday night at 10pm, Hen and Stag dos, white trash.
The harvest moon was beautiful which made up for Scarborough being a dive on a Saturday night hehe.
Scarborough Sea Front – 52 miles
I was super happy to see the checkpoint marshals High Viz and my awesome crew here waiting on me! The marshals once again filled up my waters for me, gave me food, and gave me directions on a new diversion because of the high tide.
Vicky and Rae also gave me food and drink – Was nice to meet Rae and will no doubt see her again for an ultra in Scotland 2017. I bid farewell to Victoria and promised to see her in around 2 hours at the finish. 2 hours and 10 miles was quite ambitious I thought but I always like a nice kick at the end.
Vicky said “Run on and catch those runners so you aren’t alone”, knowing I was finding it difficult during the night and navigating the town centres.
Luckily I latched onto a Hardmoors veteran who was super friendly and didn’t complain about anything, Peter! This guy knew the final 10 miles no bother, it was a breeze!
This section passed by pretty quickly, we chatted the whole way and were joined later on by Sue who I’d met earlier in the day! We ran together for the full final section, the final 4 miles along the Peninsula toward Filey were amazing. After about 60 miles we were all pretty anxious to get this thing finished now.
I text Vicky to let her know we’d be coming in soon, in about 1/2/3 miles – we’ll see lol.
Filey Methodist Church – 62/63 miles
We ran down some more bloody stairs and onto the roads of Filey town centre, one final steep climb and a selfie before the finish.
I saw Vicky standing at the front of the Church in her Fling Hoody happy to see me. I greeted her and ran into the finish with the two others and we all finished together. Everybody was clapping it was really nice actually, especially because of how late it was!
Vicky ushered me into the church to sit down, get some food and drink, it was lovely to have a nice seat, my feet were really sore from the steps and running I had done. I ate quite a lot here, sandwiches, quiche, Victoria sponge and flapjacks before walking back to our B&B.
At the B&B I enjoyed the well earned Brew Dog and a quick shower trying not to wake up the other residents – eek.
Really enjoyed this event, happy to have finished it and got my UTMB points for a possible race next year. The route was really beautiful and worth the hard work.
The highlight was seeing the sunset from the cliffs and also the moon in the sky.
Mountain Fuel – Seems like all the people around me were getting cramps, so maybe they weren’t taking any of this? I know I didn’t want to risk taking something new on race day so I stuck with SIS Tablets. I’ve since tried Mountain Fuel and it has a delicious date.
Signage – This wasn’t always that good. I did struggle a few times trying to find my way, especially in the towns I mentioned and sometimes when there were T junctions and no obvious route to take, but luckily stuck with the more experienced Hardmoors runners who knew the way.
Family atmosphere – Fantastic atmosphere at this race, would like to do more of them in future.
Marshals/Checkpoints – The marshals at the checkpoints were excellent, and the food/drink at them was brilliant, really well stocked and some nice treats too.
Organisation – I feel the organisation of the even was spot on, the bus to the start, the starting area and the finish were all good. My only concern was the lack of toilets at the start for the number of runners.
Points – Great to get UTMB points for the Hardmoors races.
Thank you all for reading.