‘Good cross country training’ said one runner after this one. And he was definitely right, it turned out to be a bit of a mudfest. My Kandidas didn’t cope well with that much mud and I was left regretting that I hadn’t used mudclaws.
The race started by going south along the Cleveland Way from Ravenscar and that section of about 4m was fine. There was a steep descent to Hayburn Wake and out the other side where the race organiser was waiting at the first checkpoint in a field. As we left the checkpoint we had a view of the field and he was attempting to move his car and he was getting seriously stuck, so three of us went back to help him. As other runners came to the checkpoint, they came and helped as well. It took six of us fifteen minutes to get him out and in that time we all got covered in mud from spinning car wheels. A complete comedy moment, but it did relieve any concerns about the 7 hour cut off being enforced!
My expectation was about 6 hours. What I hadn’t realised was that after Hayburn the railway lines climbed back to Ravenscar. That was harder than I had expected. We then went north to Robin Hood’s Bay and that section was fine. Then after Robin Hood’s Bay there must have been a two mile climb along the railway line with no respite. I tried to run sections but most of it was walked. Finally, the climb stopped and the descent into Whitby was lovely.
I was still on for about 6hr at this point. Found the Whitby checkpoint and had a cliffbar – these are great, I had some the at the Hardmoors 55m and haven’t seen once since, I must get some.
It was fun dodging and weaving round the shoppers in Whitby and there were a few strange looks.
Once I had climbed all the steps and gone past the abbey I was back on the Cleveland Way. The wind was behind us and I was expecting to get to Robin Hood’s Bay in 2 hours. It took 3 hours. It was very muddy and much more undulating than I remembered. It was also much longer than I remembered and the headland I needed to get to seemed a long way away. There were also three or four places where I was soaked by seawater even though we were 150 feet above the sea Those places were just a quagmire. About thirty minutes before Robin Hood’s Bay my head torch came out. I had been expecting to run the last hour in the dark (the race didn’t start until 11), but I was still 90 minutes away from the finish when I had to use the torch. This slowed me down even more.
Robin Hood’s Bay to Ravenscar is only about 4 to 5 miles but I knew it was tough. The climb out of Robin Hood’s Bay is hard then there are two up and downs before a long climb up to Ravenscar. The runnable parts were very muddy and it was hard to make progress, so little running was done.
Finally made it back with an elapsed time of 7 hours 6 minutes, which allowing for the mud shower at checkpoint 1, left me within the cutoff, but only just. I was 28th out of 29 finishers. The last person was over an hour after me. It was a bit of a lonely race, I had not seen anyone after mile 13!
This was more than made up for when I entered the Race HQ. There were about 25 people eating and drinking in there and they all stopped what they were doing and gave me an enormous round of applause Ultra runners are lovely and it was just what I needed after a very tough race.
Sadly Phil Owen had to pull out after 10m because of problems with his foot. Anna Seeley had a good run and was back in about 6hr 25min. Will had a fantastic run, he was third in a time of round about 4hr 40min !