Tomorrow will see the running of the fourth Hardmoors 55 – an ultra marathon that covers the first half of the Cleveland Way. The course is a very tough and hilly one that is mostly trails and paths over some very exposed stretches of moorland. The cut-off time is an extremely challenging 15 hours (well, it is if you are normal…), but has been extended by an hour for tomorrow. Now, I have taken part in this race three times, but only finished it once, in 14 hours 20 minutes. So for an hour to be added on by the Race Director he must be expecting some seriously treacherous weather! Tomorrows race is also being run in reverse, from Guisborough to Helmsley, instead of using Helmsley as the start point, which is the traditional beginning of the Cleveland Way.
I am currently in a state of low discipline and general laziness and slothfulness, so am in no state to combat 55 miles on the North York Moors in probable snowy / icey conditions. Which leaves a bit of a sour taste in my mouth, because I absolutely love this race! It is a local race to me, whatever direction it runs in, it was my first DNF (yay…), my first successful 55 miler and has taught me how to train for an event well beyond my capabilities and comfort zone.
I have also been priviliged to come into contact with, and meet some truly inspirational characters. I won’t mention everyone, (you will have to download one of my future ebooks to read about them!) but I will mention the Race Director, Jon Steele. As runners and keen participants we should be extremely grateful that people like this go to such absurd lengths to put on such brilliant events. I’ve seen this event grow from one 110 miler, into two different race series that offer something for everyone of pretty much every ability. And the ethos and camaraderie has never faded or evolved into snobbery and exclusivity, sometimes found at other events and clubs. Partly because the races are so bloody hard compared to their contemporaries! I mean, who in their right mind who want to do a full marathon around the Wainstones and surrounding area! But also because the Race Director has injected an admirable quality into his series of ultra marathons and trail races. It is this quality that allows back-of-the-pack runners like myself to turn up at race after race, ever improving, taking on greater challenges and mixing with far more gifted people than ourselves without feeling like idiots! Newcomers are welcomed and encouraged, and every race has been a pleasure for me to take part in.
This is what will get me out of bed tomorrow at daft o’clock to help out for a few hours at the race registration and get my butt into gear to start proper training for the Hardmoors 60 in September. I hope that all competitors enjoy / learn from the experience!