After recently finishing the Lakeland 50 and having my heart set on the 100 next year, this one seemed a good choice of a step up in distance. With it being on the east coast I thought it would be pretty flat, it wasn’t until shortly after I entered that I realised that the ascent profile was very similar to that of the Lakeland 50. Oops, note to self always read up before committing to an entry, especially when it costs the best part of £100.
Having done very little long distance training and still having the Lakeland 50 in my legs I knew that completing the race would be a struggle. Going out on the Thursday night in London just two nights before the day of the race was also probably a bad idea but these things happen. To be honest the day before the race I wasn’t even bothered about it having counted myself very lucky to be at the next underground station to the terrorist bomb, it was a long journey home.
We (myself, Verity and Thea) eventually arrived at Guisborough at around half ten at night, just 14 hours after leaving the hotel in London and I had made no preparation for the race whatsoever. I even forgot my Garmin!
There were two bag drops during the race to fuel up, have a change of clothing, etc. I took nothing with me apart from a 500ml bottle of water (mandatory kit requirement) and 15 gels. The pr- race carb loading consisted of a McDonalds along the route to the hotel and being shattered and still hungover only two pints!
The day of the race arrived and it was throwing it down, marvellous! Fortunately I had my lucky Hoka’s with me which have always looked after me. After a quick pre-race briefing we were sent out of the small building and as soon as I was out the door the race had already started, a bit of a let down, and it seemed to upset quite a few others too!
The route set off up a long steep muddy hill. After about two miles I realised that my choice of shoe was terrible, I wish I had taken my fell shoes. Once up on to Highcliff Nab it dried up on a bit with a nice trail section. I got a bit carried away but with not having my watch I had no idea as to what pace I was running, which turned out to be 8 minute mile pace, crazy for an amateur running a ridiculously long race!
The first checkpoint at Saltburn Woodland Centre (9 miles) was a much welcomed one and having no food I was hoping for a nice sausage butty or something similar. Jelly babies, oh dear. I must have looked a mess as a marshal asked me if I was okay to continue!
Off we went towards the next checkpoint at Runswick Bay and it wasn’t pretty, mud, mud and more mud. I was struggling to grip and had convinced myself on several occasions that I was stopping at the next checkpoint. I was struggling however to find a viable reason to justify doing so.
I arrived at Runswick Bay just before Verity landed. Being in front of her I thought I couldn’t be doing that badly after all. There were biscuits and flapjacks which made me a little happier.
There was a rush to leave as the tide was fast approaching at the bay, when its in fully it involves a 1 mile detour which I wasn’t planning to include. The tide was in quite high and I had just made the cut off. Running in the sea was good fun and this was probably my favourite part of the run.
I don’t remember too much of the next section until we arrived at Whitby other than a recognition of lots of mud.
Arriving at Whitby was scary as it was rammed and I had no idea where I was going. I hadn’t printed off the route directions or looked at my map which stayed in my bag for the duration of the event. Luckily I caught up with a guy in front who zig zagged around the town and somehow got us out at the Abbey at the other side.
Off we went to Robin Hoods Bay which was the only place I went the wrong way. I started running along the bay and then realised that nobody else was, a slight detour to go back up the hill but a bit more fun splashing in the sea.
The next stretch up to Ravenscar (41 miles) was an absolute nightmare. I really felt like packing in at this point as I was sick of plodding through bogs and found myself doing a lot more walking than running. Verity managed to cheer me up at the checkpoint and there was pizza, happy days! I was also 3 hours ahead of the cut off point which cheered me up.
Then came hell, the stretch to Scarborough. After a very pleasant couple of miles down a road, the next ten miles was pure bog plodding all the way to Scarborough sea front. I could not wait to get to the sea front and was looking forward to the solid concrete surface. On arriving there what seemed like seven hours later, after the bog plodding I found that I could not run on the concrete, I was completely goosed!
The seafront stretch lasted forever and I was run/walking to a ratio of about 1:10, not good especially considering that I’m a road runner! I finally arrived at the last checkpoint at Scarborough and did not think I was capable of completing the remaining 9 miles. Verity kindly provided me with a couple of bottles of Lucozade and more importantly a bag of Picnic bites. The check point also had sausage rolls, there was no giving up now!
Darkness had well and truly set in so headtorch equipped off I went on the last stretch along the coastline. After a few miles I bumped into a fellow runner who was in a worse state than me, he was wobbling all over the place and kept being sick. As we were running by a cliff edge I couldn’t leave him so kept him company for the remaining stretch. I think I nagged him to death but it was good to have a bit of company.
We plodded on walk-running and was lucky to bump into a fox, having a late night hunt. With just 3 miles to go I was furious. We passed through a hole in a wall and at the other side were a group of kids who all jumped out at the same time and scared the **** out of me! I had a right go at them but looking back it was quite funny.
We eventually finished the race at Filey and I was absolutely exhausted. I was aiming to complete the race in 12 hours and ended up with a time of about 14 and a half hours. Given the conditions I was happy just to finish. Did I enjoy it? Not really. Am I glad I did it? Absolutely, and I feel stronger more mentally than physically for doing so.
Lakeland it wasn’t, it was a low key event but I suppose I was spoilt by the superb atmosphere in Coniston that evening. People talk about the number of steps along the route but I didn’t recall that many of these, not in comparison to the vast amounts of mud!
I would provide my position and finish time but as I write this several days later the results are still unavailable!
Now its time to enjoy the rest of my recovery and to re-focus my efforts on hopefully achieving a new half marathon PB which is my next short term aim.