Tag Archives: Hardmoors Saltburn Marathon

Hardmoors Saltburn marathon, Saltburn Leisure Centre, Sunday, February 10, 2019

Mark Kearney

Chapter 1; Saltburn Marathon

“Please can we go to Saltburn in February” is a phrase few will say whom are of sound and rational mind and there are many good reasons for that……however as a trail runner and lover of Hardmoors it is a necessity to arrive bright and early on a Sunday morning, at that time of the year and in that very location.

The Half Marathon at Saltburn in 2017 was my first ‘trail’ run and was perhaps the hardest 15 mile I had ever ran.  Yes, I had completed Marathons and events in the past, but nothing compared me for the climbs, mud, sleet, hail, rain, snow, wind with the occasional presence of sunshine over a 2-hour period.

Now we fast forward two years and after the mental and physical torture of 2017 we have added multiple Hardmoors experiences to the locker and now think its big and clever to double the distance and take on the marathon series.

Training had gone well, a good result in the HM30 the month before and I felt confident going into the race with some good miles behind me.  A recce in the snow the week before had given some knowledge of the elevation and terrain of the back half of the route and on checking the weather forecast no more snow was due; only winds provided by some storm called Eric.

The morning of the race was surprisingly calm, the wind had gone, no rain, no snow, no hail…was this Saltburn? The conditions near perfect weather wise as we parked up and registered for the event.  As usual, seamless teamwork from the Hardmoors family as we registered, smiley face for the kit check and we packed our bags in readiness for the race briefing and the call to go outside and toe the line. Walking out we passed Striders Simon Graham and Jill Young, happily saluting us with coffee cups and wishing us good luck…..with the caveat that they are not as crazy as us and are happy to be taking part in the half marathon, due to start at 10am.

We walk outside on mass, traffic stopped, marshalls in place and Jon says we’re off; so we’re off…. down a main road (at least in force so some element of safety) until we hit the track into the dene to drop to the coast. The leader seemingly intent to break away, hitting a fast paced first mile to the coast before the coastal trail path sections and the first flight of steps….slowing us all down as we walk the climb.  The course taking the scenic coastal path route, along the cliff tops into the bay and then back up for the climb to the top of Loftus before a fast paced tarmac section.  A chance to open the legs after a firm but damp section along the trails.  Seeing friends and fellow runners marshalling and exchanging in general banter as we continue on our merry way.

In a true fashion the trails continued to undulate, generally following the bows of yellow tape placed in many part by our very own Dave Toth in the days before.  Climbs followed drop, drops and climbs, stairs, steps and hills with few flat and fast sections in between before we start to reach mile 18-19 and the Tees Link up to High Cliff Nab.  For those not familiar with this section of Guisborough woods I would encourage you all to have a trip out and take in the elevation and views at the summit, the climb can be challenging in the best of conditions and after the recent snow this climb was the hardest I have experienced in running these events.  Unfortunately, the view from the top was one I couldn’t appreciate during the race but looks good on google.

This was the hardest and biggest climb of the race with a long run back through the woods and over to Quakers Causeway before heading down to Boosebeck and climbing to Skelton.  The taping of the route and support of the marshals was impeccable throughout the route with fully stocked refreshment points and supportive encouragement throughout.  The views, freedom and lack of people and animals on the moors is one of peacefulness; no noise, traffic and only the voice in your head to talk to as you cover the boggy moor landscape.  Michelle likes to comment that listening to me have a conversation with myself is her idea of torture; I quite like it as I generally turn out to be right when I’m finished my discussion.

Reaching the other side of Boosebeck enables the Marathon race to join the end of the half marathon route and it was good to see runners again, to be able to say hello and not continually look for yellow tape as I could follow the pack, to target people to try and reach and have a little competition with myself for the final couple of miles.  Dropping down the steps I had expected to see Dave Toth at his marshalling point but apparently, he had popped to the shop for refreshments so we continued on back into the dene and the final climb to the main road where the finish line and the leisure centre awaited. 

Running into the hall, stopping the watch and desperate for a shower I was happy to end in a time of c3:48 minutes and take first place.  Happy the race had gone to plan, pushing on when required and all in better conditions that we could imagined.

I would encourage anyone to take part, try a 10k(ish) if you’re not sure and I would be surprised if even a little bit of you didn’t enjoy the event and people involved.

Round 1 completed, 6 to go……

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Hardmoors Saltburn Marathon, Saltburn-By-The-Sea, Sunday, August 10, 2014

28 miles

Melanie Hudson

The first thing I did that morning was to check the weather forecast, hoping that it had changed since the day before. I was sadly disappointed as they were still predicting very heavy rain for most of the day. So when I arrived at Saltburn leisure centre I was feeling apprehensive about what was in store. Although it was reassuring to see the familiar faces of Flip and Denise B who were both there to marshal and Sue who was also running the marathon. Just before the start I also spotted Lindsay R who was there to run the 10k.

The marathon began and at this point the weather was warm and dry but very overcast as if it could start raining at any time. We began by running up the road, however the climb did not last long and we were soon descending towards Saltburn seafront. We ran along the front before reaching a long set of steps to get onto the Cleveland way.

Queueing at Registration.

Once on the cliff tops the path was on a gradual incline which was pretty runnable. There were lovely views of the coast along this path which we were on for about five and a half miles. The seven mile point which took us off the coastal path and headed back towards Skinningrove. At mile nine the route took us onto a climb out of Skinningrove and the heavens opened. The rain was quite cold but I felt really warm so I had to make a quick decision as to whether I should put my waterproof on or not. I decided that it can be hard to warm up again if I got really cold and that there was a long way to go so I put my coat on.

I got to the check point at mile 12 where Denise was marshaling and she cheered me on my way.

Since putting my coat on I had been uncomfortably hot and I eventually made the decision to take it off at mile 15. At this point I had entered Slapewath woods which had become pretty muddy underfoot due to the heavy rain and made for slow going. However I did spot some raspberries and blackberries that were ready to eat so I munched on a few of them on the way past.

I was then in Guisborough Woods where the rain had started to ease a little and I was glad I had taken off my coat earlier. At mile 18 there was a brutal climb up to Highcliff Nab, not what my tired legs really wanted at this point. The top of The Nab was where Flip was marshaling, he was ‘entertaining’ runners on the way up by ‘singing’ to people on their way up. It was lovely to see a familiar face at the top of such a climb. Flip checked if I was okay for food and water, it must have been quite a feat hauling such supplies up there with him.

I then descended onto the moors, where the rain was very heavy again. It was also very misty which made the moors pretty eery and I was glad that there were other runners around me. By now we were heading into a cold wind, I was wet and chilly. There was a mile uphill and the ground was very wet, however I kept running to try and keep warm.

On the Cleveland Way.

Eventually I came to a road which I crossed. The route description now said for me to head in the direction of a TV Mast. This would have been a useful instruction had it not been so misty ! Thankfully there was a clear path to follow which lead me to the mast which only appeared when I was only several feet from it.

At mile 26 I was running through Skelton Green where I saw Denise again. It was a real boost to see her as by this point I was feeling pretty cold and miserable and it was still raining heavily.

At mile 27 I entered Saltburn woods and followed the path down to a lovely waterfall. I then took the footbridge over the beck and underneath a viaduct. They are attractive woods. Then there was then a bit of a climb to get back to the top of Saltburn. I was then out of the woods and onto the road. I knew I had to be quick if I wanted sub six hours so I ran as fast as I could. I was not quite fast enough and missed the sub six hours by 15 seconds. However I was not too bothered, I was just relieved to be inside where it was warm and dry. The advantage of this race’s HQ being in a leisure centre was that it had warm showers. After a shower and a cup of coffee I was warmed up and feeling happy to have completed the marathon in such unpleasant conditions.

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Hardmoors Saltburn marathon, Sunday, August 11, 2013

Dave Robson

The Hardmoors Saltburn marathon route was a bit of a mystery. There had been a map published on the website, but we already knew that there would be changes to the route through Guisborough Woods. The route was to be fully marked, but it was going through some dodgy areas and I was doubtful the tape would remain there, so I printed off the map from the website, drew the route and downloaded it to our garmins, just in case. The route on the garmin helped a lot when we found some of the tape confusing or missing or apparently put somewhere to send us the wrong way, though we didn’t see that.

Dave in the money!

Melanie and I met up with a few familiar faces in Saltburn Lesiure Centre. Phil Owen was there as he was going to be handling two busy road crossings. We started through some streets and made our way down to the Cleveland Way and up to Skelton, Skelton Green and started the long drag up in the direction of Slapewath. Steep descent there, cross the first busy road and up through the motorcycle woods (they probably have another name !). Then after getting to the top we were directed off the Cleveland Way through Guisborough Woods, a lovely downhill, but we knew that this would be followed by a climb. It certainly was, a steep climb up an overgrown path which came out about 150 metres from where we had left the Cleveland Way. More climbing (but gentler) and then leaving the Cleveland Way again for a descent down and up onto the moors above Commondale. The moors took a bit longer to cross than I anticipated, but we got to Commondale and then had a steep climb out of there, then it got more gentle.

We had had a brief shower earlier, but we hadn’t got the waterproofs out, but we could see some very black clouds approaching, so it was out with the waterproofs. A good choice because for the remainder of the path across the moors it threw it down, just torrential rain. Got to the second busy road crossing and Flip guided us safely across and the countryside became more rural. We came across one piece of ambiguous tape and as we got there about eight runners emerged having made the wrong choice of route. We probably would have made the wrong choice too, but all of us now chose the right route.

I had expected this part of the route, 14m onwards, to be fairly flat, fairly undulating would be a better description. The weather was getting warmer too, so we slowed a bit. We reached Skinningrove safely and so I knew we were approaching the coastal part of the Cleveland Way again. However, I knew we had to go up to the cliffs, so we started the ascent and reached a junction where we could go up a road, down a road (but towards the coast which was the right direction) or straight on up an overgrown path. Several runners were there scratching their heads. No tape in sight. We decided to go up the road as that was closest to the route on my watch and everybody else followed. It turned out to be the right way as tape eventually started again.

Nice run along the Cleveland Way with a breeze to cool us down 🙂 though I was starting to struggle a little here. Got to the last checkpoint outside the Ship Inn in Saltburn and the marshall said to follow the Cleveland Way route past the Spa Hotel and it had been retaped. But before we got there we found more tape sending us down by the river. We took that path and then a taped path upwards. The tape then disappeared, but I know this area a bit so we kept on heading up to the road and found our way back on to the Cleveland Way. More tape took us slightly down again (this route was turning out much hillier than I expected), before the final climb back up to the road leading to the Leisure Centre. 5hr 43min which is probably our fastest Hardmoors marathon, they certainly are hilly !

Then to my surprise I learnt that I had won my age category and was presented with a very nice trophy. A lovely end to a lovely day 🙂

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