Yorkshire Moors Frostbite Marathon, Whitby, Saturday, January 29, 2011

Dave Robson

I had been undecided about this race as I wasn’t sure how much of it was on the Cleveland Way. For some reason the organisers would not publish the exact route until you had paid your entry fee. I had found the Cleveland Way very muddy on the Hardmoors 30 at the start of the month and if it was going to be largely the same route then I wasn’t going to enter. A friend from Fetcheveryone.com came to my rescue as she had already entered and forwarded me the route. Only about 9m in total on the Cleveland Way, the first 4.5m and the last 4.5m. The rest of the route was either on old railway lines or across the moors and most of it I had done before on the Hardmoors 30 or the Smugglers Trod.

Dave ready for the off. Another friend from Fetcheveryone, Liz, who I had run with on the Hardmoors 55 last year, was also doing this race and she came and stayed last night, so we were up at 4.30 in the morning to get to Whitby for the early start.

We left the house at 5.30 after de-icing the cars and arrived in Whitby still in total darkness just before 7. We registered and stood around at 7.30 for the briefing. It was about -2 at this point. I had bought roclites and mudclaws, the latter to be used if there was any sign of mud. But no, the ground was frozen so roclites it was.

Liz and I had agreed to run together again with no time targets set. The marathon runners had a 5min start over the 50m runners and we heard their hooter as we jogged along and as one runner close to us said ‘the hounds had been released’ and it was true, they steadily overtook us. We trotted along taking it easy as the aim was just to finish and get some time on our feet. At one point the runners ahead were turning sharp right away from the coast and we just followed them. It took me about 100 yards to come to my senses and realise that should not have happened. So I just said out loud we have made a mistake and all the runners around us just followed us back to the coast. Quite a few were just too far ahead, but they rejoined the path about a mile ahead when they realised their error.

After that it was fairly uneventful, the path was frozen mud until we reached the correct point to turn away from the coast to an old railway line and head into Robin Hood’s Bay and checkpoint 1. We had a chat with the marshalls and headed off chatting away about races and Liz’s preparations for the 10 marathons in 10 days event at Windermere in May.

We reached the highest point on the route as the sun came out and had a fantastic view of Robin Hood’s Bay and Ravenscar Then it was off down across the moor to the turn around point – it was an out and back for the marathon runners, the 50m runners were similar but had a loop near their half way point. So we headed back up the moor and down to Robin hood’s Bay. Now the wind had picked up a little, the sun had gone in and it was getting a little cold. We returned to the Cleveland Way and it was transformed. The frozen mud and been melted by the sun into major mud, probably worse than I had experienced at the Hardmoors 30. My roclites struggled and progress was very slow, especially when we had to descend steep gullies. But we made it back very happy and got fed soup at the finish. The second half was much slower than the first and we finished in just over 7hr 20min. A lovely day out.

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