Tuesday, 12 February 2019

Hardmoors Saltburn marathon 2019

I managed to aggravate my right Achilles towards the end of January and I had to miss the Wilmot Wander event which I had been looking forward to. I had tried to run on the Saturday eight days before the Saltburn event but I had to stop, it was too sore. It wasn't looking hopeful. On the day before Saltburn I did Durham parkrun very gently and it didn't seem too bad. I was not very confident that it would last 29 miles of hills and mud on the Satlburn route.

We started as usual from the Saltburn Leisure Centre and ran down towards Valley Gardens and there went on a slightly different route to the sea and towards the Ship Inn.

Up on to the cliffs with a nice view back

I had expected lots of mud on the course but it wasn't too bad at all. Melanie and I took it easy up to the 'charm bracelet'

before starting the descent towards Skinningrove. The weather was very good, very little wind, no rain or snow and not too cold.

Down all the way to the beach

past the first checkpoint and fishermen's boat.

This photo doesn't really show how steep and long the climb is out of Skinningrove...

Looking back gives a better view.

and on to the Sports Sunday photographers.

and then a small diversion uphill which actually reduced the distance by just over a mile, a rare bonus !

Then some tarmac and down into another part of Skinningrove, up the other side and across many fields and the quiet mineral railway line.

We almost got to the 12 mile checkpoint before the first half marathon runners caught us up (they started an hour after us). At that checkpoint they head for home whilst we headed out towards Guisborough Woods which are still some distance away in this photograph.

When we got to the woods we had to climb up a long way before the tricky technical, muddy descent to the bottom before the infamous Tees Link climb. Hardmoors events that start in Guisborough usually take in this climb early on, but in this event you don't reach the climb until about the 18 mile point. It feels so much harder at that point. The next two photos are taken about two thirds of the way up

Finally we reached High Cliff Nab with it's lovely views and then on through the woods which had one or two muddy bits (thanks to Melanie for this photo)

and then onto the moors for three or four miles. As usual they were a bit wet, but much better than the last two years.

and then it is back to trails, fields, some more climbs and back into Valley Gardens and the railway viaduct.

A great day out ! We got back in 6hr 49min and we had time for a shower and a chat with other runners before heading home. And my Achilles had held out 😀

Sunday, 20 January 2019

NEMC Hardwick Park Winter Wonder 2019

I think this is the first time that the North East Marathon Club (NEMC) have put on an event at Hardwick Park in Sedgefield and it was a great success. Easy parking and a cafe and toilets on site.

A lapped course is never something I really enjoy, but it does have some advantages like good access to your kit and food and drink - each lap was 1.5 miles. I love the Sedgefield parkrun, for me it is the prettiest parkrun in the North East, but it is just two laps of the park. Today to get to 27m we would have to do eighteen laps. I was hoping this wouldn't put me off running round the park. It was a 6 hour event but we decided to stop after 27 miles.

It was cold and grey at the start at 9.30 and we were wrapped up warm.

We had devised a system of moving buttons from a belt to a pocket every lap, but I never got started as the lap counters did a great job. My garmin watch also conformed the distance well. There were no other marshalls but the course was well marked with chalk.

We decided to plan a little, not like us ! We decided to walk the hill in the woods every lap and then after halfway walk some of the other small hills. It gave us something to look forward to leading up to halfway. By the time we got to the last four laps we were walking some pretty small undulations, but that was fine. If possible we wanted to finish in about 5 hours so we could get coffee before everything closed.

After about six laps the sun came out, which had not been forecast until much later in the day. By the time we were on the last two laps it got grey again. No wind all day. Amazing weather for January.

Hardwick Park is lovely, if you have never been it is well worth a visit

There was some photographers on the course. This one was taken by Catherine Smith

and these by Pete King

We didn't find the laps as bad as we expected, there was always lots to see, there is a lot of swans, geese and ducks who ventured out of the lakes and ponds and on to the wide paths, but it was easy to run around them. As it was a nice day, there were lots of people walking, some with dogs, all on leads, lots of young children on bikes and toy cars so we had to pay attention to keep out of their way.

We slowed down after about 22m, but we knew it had been a while since we had ran that sort of distance. Many of the other runners had finished after 13 miles or 20 miles and the faster runners had finished so it was fairly quiet at that stage.

It was good to finish and we collected our medal, chocolate and socks, a good event. Would I do it again ? Not sure, it is very local for us, so we shall see.

Sunday, 9 December 2018

Hardmoors Roseberry Topping marathon 2018

The Hardmoors Roseberry Topping marathon is over 30 miles in length and involves two climbs of the famous hill.

I was running this one with Kath, sadly Elly could not make it. Without her we completely messed up our jumping photo, so there isn't one in this report ....

It was an 8.00 start so I was up early, collected Kath and drove down to Guisborough where the race HQ was located in the Sea Cadets Hall. It was the usual start, up the road and along to the Tees Link climb up to High Cliff Nab. It was a long muddy climb ...

I was expecting the wind to pick up once we got to the top but it wasn't bad at all and there were clear skies. The views were special

On the way over to Roseberry Topping we started to run with Emma who I last ran with at the Hardmoors 30.

It is a a bit of an awesome sight as you approach Roseberry Topping.

We went down into the dip, up the path you can see in the photo, down the other side, back up again and then down a path to the left on the photo and then back to the gate you can see in the photo. They are draining climbs and we had hardly done 10k yet...

Across to James Cook monument (with another down and up before we reached it) and then the descent into Kildale

In Kildale we discovered two runners having tea outside the tea shop to make sure the sweepers did not pass them by. I liked their style !

After leaving the village there is a long pull up a quiet tarmac road with great views from the top again

We soon left the tarmac and headed along the Cleveland Way train towards Blowarth Crossing. We did not quite go that far and we turned to cross Middle Head Top and headed towards Baysdale Moor where we had a good view of the lovely Westerdale.

The track across Great Hograh moor was a bit muddy and wet, but we took it easy.

We crossed Westerdale Moor and then crossed the stream near the lovely named Dibble Bridge

Through part of Castleton and on the way to Commondale we saw a train on the lovely Esk Valley train line (never been on it ? go, it is worth it !)

From Commondale we climb up to the final checkpoint where Jamie greeted us and took out photo (thanks Jamie).

At this point I could feel I was getting cold and the temperature was dropping so I put on my waterproof and put my head torch in my pocket for later.

After the checkpoint we found a change to the route which I hadn't expected and it probably saved us a little distance and avoided a slippery crossing of a stream and a boggy section. Somehow I doubt that Jon, the Race Director, used those reasons for the slight detour.....

It was starting to get dark quickly and the temperature was dropping. We finally reached Guisborough Woods which never seemed to get any closer. On the steep and muddy descent down to Guisborough it was finally time to put head torches on. After that it was less than a mile on road back to the Sea Cadets hut.

A lovely day on the moors and yet again we had been lucky with the weather. This was the last in the Hardmoors 26.2 series this year and I have enjoyed them all and already entered the series again for 2019. I am hooked.

That's also it for my marathons and ultras for 2018, twenty done and it feels like it has been a very good year.