Ahhh, North Yorkshire. It's been a long time coming.
I originally planned to do Hardmoors 55 as my North Yorkshire race, which I signed up for back in late 2019. Sadly, after training all winter, the race was my first to be thwarted by Covid-19 in March 2020. Here's what I wrote about that at the time. Undeterred, I booked onto Hardmoors 30 on New Year's Day, deftly negotiating the NHS Christmas leave rota, only for it to be cancelled by Covid-19 as well.
As it turned out, the rescheduled 30 was my first race of 2021 that hasn't been cancelled. However, it wasn't yet possible to stay in a hotel due to Covid-19 regulations, and self-catering accommodation in Whitby was well over £200 a night. I turned to the Hardmoors community, asking for somewhere to stay the night before and was showered with offers, eventually going with the lovely Dave in Pickering who very kindly put me up in Covid-secure accommodation. If you're thinking of a holiday in North Yorkshire - and you should, it's stunning - I can highly recommend his place (see Low Costa Mill website). Massive thank you to Dave and his family, without whom I would've been sleeping in my car in Whitby Abbey car park and would have had a very different race experience. Instead, I awoke in Pickering after 10 hours sleep, had breakfast and coffee and set off for Whitby at 7:30am. The only stressful part was realising that despite downloading the GPX file, I had failed to put it onto my watch, so I was going to have to navigate manually. Luckily I did have the course on my phone OS map app and a paper map as part of the mandatory kit.
I arrived with only 20 minutes to pay for parking, hand in my drop bag and go to the loo before my allotted start time of 8:36am. Groups of six were called every 2 minutes and (wearing masks and sanitising hands) received their race number and pins before being set off. The organisation was spot on - every detail had been carefully considered.
As I got further up the hill, a lovely view of Robin Hood's Bay opened up so I took a photo. Just as I did so, the photographer shouted, "Get running lass! Never mind taking photos!" which made me laugh. Obligingly I ran towards him. The photos were, as usual, hideous, so you can have the one I took of the bay instead:
The route turned back towards the sea at this point and I realised we must be coming up to the 17 mile checkpoint. I knew this was called Cloughton Wyke (although I still don't have a clue how to pronounce it!) as this was where the drop bags were.
This race doesn't usually have drop bags but because the race organisers were unable to stock the checkpoints with as much food as usual, they decided to allow them. I haven't done many races with drop bags but I knew it was good to have some food in there that was different to everything else you were carrying so I'd added chocolate marzipan balls and Kendal mint cake. I'd also put in a clean pair of socks as that can really help, however by the time I got there I couldn't be bothered to change them as I was keen to just crack on. In truth, I needn't have bothered with a drop bag at all. Anything left behind would be thrown away so I stuffed the contents into my already very full race vest. Hardmoors races have an extensive mandatory kit list - I have no issue with this - and there was a spot check here. One of the marshalls also complimented me on my rainbow shoelaces!
Here I am walking up a hill eating marzipan balls. Note to self: chocolate-covered treats are best when not kept in direct sunlight for several hours. Still nice though!
At some points the race came right down to sea level and then back up roughly hewn steps to the cliff. Suzy was much better at this than me!
The GPX sent out by the race directors was 52km which is just over 32 miles, but the actual distance we ran was 54km, so just over 33 miles. We kept going right to the very end - without Suzy I definitely would have started to
slow down over the last couple of km as I was expecting it to have ended! Due to the staggered start there was no way of knowing how well you'd done, as the people around you may have started before or after you did, but my watch said I'd finished in 6 hours 22 minutes which I was pretty pleased with. Suzy finished in just slightly over 6 1/2 hours. It was a week before the final results came out, in which Suzy missed out on a prize by 11 flipping seconds! Ahhhh!! She was much more magnanimous about it than I would've been though! We got our medals and swapped numbers. Here's my finish line pic with the Abbey in the background:
And here's Garmin's summary. Plenty of ascent, plenty of calories burned (and plenty of marzipan eaten), all in all a pretty good day out. Nice to be out on the trails, particularly lovely to have crossed off North Yorkshire after all this time, and just great to be racing again.