The Hardwolds 80 captured my attention many months ago. I can’t explain why some events grab me by the feet and lure me towards them, inviting me to part with my well-earned cash, yet some events like running around a track for 24 hours I wouldn’t even agree to do if I got paid. So bring on the Hardwolds 80 appealing in many ways. The concept of running a ‘National Trail’ – the Yorkshire Wolds Way, one of the less well known UK national trails of its kind sounded quite fun. Furthermore, Hardmoors Events have an unprecedented slick organisation, the RD’s know their stuff, they know how to look after their runners and know how to put on a masterful event. There are very few longer events going on in November, I’d already completed White Rose Ultra the year before, and this distance intrigued me because when I did the Pennine Barrier 100 in the summer of 2018 it was around mile 80 where I really began to hurt. I say hurt in the concept of every footstep hurting, so I was curious to see how far my body could go without inflicting this painful pain rather than ‘discomfort’ pain.
Do it, because you CAN
There was no hiding from the internet. The event was open tracked so a few found my name on the list and messaged me before the event. You can run Helen but you can’t hide.
I run to live. I live to run.
I was excited, apprehensive and scared, as usual. I knew from previous experience that my breakfast concoction of porridge with a bit of ginger and dried fruit doesn’t always agree with me when I am jostled up and down on a coach full of stinky over-hyped children – I mean ultra runners. Same thing, right. This travel sickness feeling had happened a number of times, cue the journeys to the start of the Highland Fling and the Limestone Way Ultra to name a few.
So awaken on race day in Filey at 4.30am by the buzzing of multiple alarms in enough time to down some porridge and a couple of cups of tea and then to catch one of 3 coaches that would leave ‘on the dot’ of 5.45am to take us to the Start. The start was at Hessle right under the concrete monstrosity of the mighty bleak Humber Bridge and about 250 metres from the start of the Yorkshire Wolds Way.
The more of us that do it, the harder it is for them to dismiss us as just a bunch of really weird people. Especially when we otherwise appear so normal. – Dan Hawthorne
So as the coach journey began, my insides began to churn around like little kids sloshing around in gigantic muddy puddles. I began to feel nauseous. I took off my necklace and stripped off my coats and base layers. My frazzled nerves jumped about in different directions penetrating further into my peaky body just enough to make me hold onto the table for support and breath slow to stop the lurching of my insides. The journey took a little longer than expected as the driver probably didn’t have the latest Suunto or Garmin watch with the correct route embedded into it and/or didn’t know how to use a paper map and compass, so he took us up a dead end road but managed a rather swift 3 point turn around some random residential cul-de-sac to put us back on track.
You will either get better or worse today. You never stay the same. Which will you choose?
Eventually, we arrived at Hessle. 50ish runners piled off the bus to the start which was strategically placed right under the Humber Bridge itself. Registration was a nice easy uncomplicated procedure. First, collect number, then move on to collect tracker, a little match box sized device which would stalk me all the way around, and beam my journey all over the internet. I picked up my tracker and then briskly walked away without it being taped onto my race vest. I was cold and shivering and my tummy was still being unkind to me. I got a friendly call back and apologised profusely as they taped my stalking mechanism onto the top of my race vest.
Drop bag syndrome was easy too, just one van divided into three. We were allowed 2 non-returnable drop bags so I’d got all my compulsory kit in my race vest and then divided my life long ultra belongings into two large clearly labelled sandwich bags. Extra housing for my torch in one drop bag, along with a last-minute brain wave to make some almond butter brioche sandwiches last night courtesy of the local Tesco as I realised I’d got very little savoury food despite the checkpoints probably being very well stocked. I’d also bought 1 packed of chicken fridge raiders. In each drop bag I put in some of my own salted caramel peanuts, I love these for running on, the mix of sweet and salty work well for me. With some crystallised ginger to help with my tummy problems, some shot blocs, a couple of sachets of tailwind in each, ’emergency gels’ and some chocolate milk in both a powdered and liquid format. An extra pen torch which was my emergency back up if both housings failed took home in my second drop bag. I’d also dropped in a second power bank just to be safe I wasn’t going to have a repeat of the From Dusk till Dawn or Pennine Barrier 100 light fiasco. Live and let learn.
So I said goodbye to my drop bags, wished them a pleasant journey and promised I would do my best to meet up with them somewhere en route. Myself and John walked to the triangular-like stone marking the start of the wolds way just to say hi. The race started a tiny bit further away from the stone to avoid the noise of 200 runners in front of the residential area. There were just 2 minutes to the race briefing so we quickly dumped our ‘finish’ bags in the van and stood quietly with the other 200 or so runners listening to Race Director Jon tell us that he wanted the trackers back even if we were dead.
‘You will be kit checked at random points‘ he too pointed out. We’d not been kit checked at the start but for anyone cheating the system, you are a stupid imbecilic un-runner. I’d got 2 pairs of gloves on me, 2 buffs as well as the compulsory hat, and an emergency food bar which I had written ’emergency bar’ on the outside. All the other stuff included waterproof trousers and top, bivy bag (NOT foil blanket), head torch spare thermal layer, map (Harvey’s) 1000ml of water and full tights which I was wearing.
And so let the quest to the unknown begin. 5432, 1 and go! We had been warned about a bottleneck just down the road so some runners shot off faster than Usain Bolt. It’s not a Parkrun it’s about 27 Parkruns. I placed myself comfortably first third to avoid too much wait then eased off once we ran alongside the foreshore of the Humber estuary negotiating its chalk-like pebbles for a few 100 strides or so. Many Parkrunners came whizzing past me as I let them do their Parkrun. My queasiness had settled and I felt comfortably ok as I followed everyone else on the forefront for a couple of miles, a mixture of stony beach, puddley pathway and muddy narrow tracks.
The ‘high tide’ route veered off into the village of North Ferriby, a little tarmac around the village led us up towards the dual carriageway. Marshals were there to help us cross the road. I was still getting a lot of Parkrunners to pass me, we’d done about 3 miles and they were probably on for their sprint finish. Let them go, let them go I whispered silently at myself. I’d never been very good at park run anyway.
And then we were on the delicious woodland trails, the late autumnal leaves crunching between 200 or so Hardwolders woldering about the trails, all well before any Parkruns would have even started. It wasn’t even 9am yet. This is not a Parkrun its 26.3 Parkruns, that makes it a Parkrun ultra-right?
In almost anything worthwhile, and especially ultra running, rushing to achieve success is a big mistake. – Notes for an Aspiring Ultrarunner
I settled into my stride, wide forestry pathway allowed for runners to pass each other smoothly. Some got out their cheat sticks. I’d decided not to use mine on this event as it wasn’t ‘that’ hilly. That is not to be rude to the Wolds Way ‘hills’ by any means as there were some very nasty sharp and steep sections but overall it was rolling almost runnable course.
There were a bunch of us running together I was listening in on conversations behind me and in front of me, I always find it fascinating what people talk about when running. I was now relaxed and there were no niggles in the body as the million hues of brown woodland floor crunched between my feet, mingled in with tree roots adding to the concentration of my dancing running feet.
I cruised down a twisting road towards the first checkpoint at Brantingham. It felt very busy. Many people had ‘crew’ so their ‘crew’ could be different locations to supply them with non-checkpoint food and drink and hugs and do what they needed to do type of ‘crew’. I like unsupported – because I have no friends and I am a lonely sort of person that likes that isolation and feeling of no one knowing where I am (Apart from Mr Internet) or relying on no one. It is my journey and my journey alone. Such a selfish runner that I am, one day I may need help and it will come back to bite me on the bum. I appreciate crew are beneficial and compulsory in some races, and can, of course, help a lot. With such a well-organised race I felt for me there was no need for crew and anyway who would want to follow me about for 80 miles, probably only my cats and they would want to be fed not the other way around.
As we run, we become. – Amby Burfoot
I didn’t stop at the first checkpoint I knew I was good for water and fuel. It was only another 10 miles to the next checkpoint. Skirting the edge of the little village of South Cave, the route took us up some narrow and somewhat hilly tracks which required some power walking. There was a group of us females all more or less together, one girl, in particular, stood out for it looked like she was doing a run-walk strategy, another running effortlessly up the steep hills for which I was mighty impressed with. The woodlands were transfixed by the myriad of fluttering leaves with the distant sounds of air rifles for the pigeon shooters were out in force further up the track, rather bemused at 200 or so runners disturbing their Saturday morning hobby.
At some point, someone just ahead had dropped a gel so I raced to pick it up not to pocket it myself but then sprinted up to catch Mr Gelman and hand it back. Now that was probably the fastest bit of running I would do all day. So I thought.
The sun was slowly creeping out, radiating every corner of the farmer’s fields we were now running around and bathing the whole of the Wolds in a warm welcoming glow. For late November we could not have asked for more favourable weather.
The Sport Sunday photographers were strategically placed on a beautiful manicured valley, so put on your best-running smile get in form and pose for the camera as our ugly mug shots would be plastered all over Mr Internet the following day.
A few muddy single file tracks added more variety to the route as I started chatting to other runners about random ultracrapness of nothing or everything. I left two guys to chinwag about life the universe and UTMB points and ran on towards the next checkpoint. It was like a multistory car park on Christmas Eve with cars full of boxes of ‘presents’ for their loved ones, presents of savoury snacks, jelly babies and other childish sweeties, every type of energy powder on the market, sandwiches, flasks of tea, coffee, hot chocolate and rum (of course I said rum not run). It was hard at first to work out where the official checkpoint was. After being cheered through the plethora of vehicles I found the official checkpoint. The kind marshals filled up one of my soft flasks, I took 2 jaffa cakes, thanked them and went on my way.
My tracker went on snooze as I had to wait a couple of minutes to cross a rather busy road. Marshals were there to help control the traffic and keep us safe. I was then off again around a farmyard and back on ‘track’. Breathing steady, heart strong I felt like this girl was born to run as I rambled through pastures and over stiles, I felt at such peace with the world.
DON’T DO IT for:
For your Ex or for your Enemies.
DO IT FOR YOU
and Because you Love it!
Farmers tracks and fields stretched before me like great quilts of lush green squares held together by the thick hawthorn hedgerows. I had to stop for a wee at one point. So I put on a spurt to get ahead of a guy just in front, excused my madness and wee’d behind a high bush.
Wee has done I was feeling much better and at this point, I thought I would try one of these new mountain fuel jellies a.k.a gels but they are calling them jellies. I wasn’t too keen on the consistency of the gel. I am not a big gel person but I do like to carry a few with me just in case of the deadly severe bonk. So two things I did wrong here, first I’d never tried these gels before but got sucked into the marketing hype of how amazing they were, and if you don’t try them you won’t know just don’t FFS try anything new on race day. You should really know better. I normally use Torq when needed and they’ve agreed with me up till now, so I am not sure why I swapped. The second thing was it was really too early in the race to take on gels. I’d taken on my brioche almond butter and had my fridge raiders which were yummy on my tummy – plastic chicken pieces at their best but I find them good to run on – salt and protein and fat and squidge down to nothing. But really? Gels at this time of the morning, what was I thinking?
Little miss Tummy was not overly happy, a mild crushing pain regurgitated around my insides, I had no empathy for myself as I squelched up and down the muddy fields. A Passerby was counting the Hardwolders one by one. I was told at this time I was the third female. I shrugged it off knowing there were some strong girls behind me, I’d only done a marathon and had over 2 more marathons to go, to be competitive at this point would be as stupid as taking on gels that you’d not tried before.
Ultrarunning won’t save the world, but it’s a practice of the kinds of skills and outlooks that could ultimately help change the world’s course and will almost certainly change yours. – Notes for an Aspiring Ultrarunner
Just after around 30 miles, the official Hardwolds route would leave the official Wolds Way to take a diversion into the village of Millington where I would pick up my first drop bag and replenish my goodies. A mile or so of tarmac dodging a few cars here and there I arrived safety into Millington village hall in good shape.
My drop bag was patiently waiting for me as I was reunited with my goodies. I replenished my drink bottles and with minimum faff sorted out my head torch housing and other little goodies. Rice pudding was on offer but it felt a little crowded and I just wanted to get out of the building and get on my way. The plethora of runners faffing about was overwhelming me somewhat. In hindsight, I wish I’d taken more proper food here but instead, I just relied on my drop bag full of evil sugary plastic chemicals and my tailwind liquid drink. I got asked to show my waterproof top as I left the building. A nice simple piece of kit which was stashed inside its own pocket on the top of all my other compulsory kit.
I said my farewells to Millington and looked ahead to the steep green climb up the side of the valley. Once on the tops, it was a blissful run across the grassy pathways, leading down to a beautiful swathe of rolling green valleys divided by more green bankings. I was happily swimming in the deepest depths of Wold’s Way on my way around the outskirts of Huggate and into the halfway village of Fridaythorpe. Fridaythorpe had been taken over by crew cars. There was no checkpoint here and I found it quite refreshing to run straight through the mass of car-ness, ignoring the hecticness of crewtasticness to fully engulf myself in my own selfish journey, with further adventure as I ran into the unknown. I was thinking, thinking of those that can’t run. My lovely best friend Becky who was tracking me, who I allowed to track me, thinking and running for her and the deadly disease that is Lung Cancer.
I run because I can. When I get tired, I remember those who can’t run, what they would give to have this simple gift I take for granted, and I run harder for them. I know they would do the same for me. — Unknown
I was full of adrenaline, with an edge of fear, acknowledging the fear, running with the fear and excitement that the halfway point left me with. The fading of the sunlight was also meaning the fading of temperature. Cool air swirled around as the sun fell behind the horizon, painting the sky with delightful shades of pinky red mingling with the low clouds. I was embedded into the perfect picture postcard of the ‘Wolds Way’, running gently through the dips and sways of the land.
I put on my waterproof in anticipation of the cool night air as the last threads of light lingered in the sky. My head torch came out even though I wasn’t to use it for another 20 minutes or so. As I meandered around the valleys I could see a runner a good mile or so in front – it’s shadow casting a light on the rolling dove grey hillside.
Through the charming village of Thixendale, its silent quaintness ran along with me as I ventured on into the evening sky. I was alone, the night was further drawing in as my adventure grew. Moments of fear engulfed me as I climbed the hill out of Thixendale. I took on another mountain fuel ‘jelly’ but alas once again my tummy really didn’t like it.
I made my way in darkness through fields high up on the hillside. Flickers of a few head torches ahead of me, as I caught up the silhouettes of runners gently trotting across the rolling fields of darkness. A few gates and stiles added to the curious challenge in that very moment and the hours of adventure that would lay ahead of me. It began to rain gently, my hood was up, my head down, rhythmically running to the pattering of the soft raindrops.
I dropped down the valley to the medieval village of Wharram Percy. Abandoned in the 15th century it had been taken over by fairy lights and spooky music blaring out from the worn and crumbled St Martin’s Church. The googlish sounds echoed around the ruins, the flickering fairy lights injecting an aura of magic into this journey.
I stepped into the courtyard of an abandoned courtyard supporting a Hardmoors sign ‘It could be worse it could be raining’ well it was raining and it couldn’t be any worse as it was there I got lost! Getting lost in a courtyard I trotted in a straight line but couldn’t find a gate so I walked to the bottom of the courtyard, there was a gate but it was locked and led to nothing but overgrowth, I walked back, I walked forward, I walked back, and then I looked at my instructions – straight on OK straight on. So I reluctantly climbed over the fence to get back on track. Had the sign been there to fool us? Had others made this mistake? I bumped into someone coming the other way. ‘On track?‘ I questioned, ‘Yes‘ she said cheerfully ‘Just half a mile up the hill to the checkpoint‘ – hurrah!
The path don’t care about the terrain, that’s for me to deal with.
I used the hill as an excuse for a walk, and to faff a little. I pulled out a soft flask with my powdered chocolate milk ready to fill up. When I arrived at the checkpoint the very kind marshal did the shake and vac and shuck it up and down and round and round for me.
I took a couple of sausage rolls and cocktail sausages in a clean sandwich bag passed on my thanks and went on my way. It was now raining heavily and I began to feel a little lonely and miserable after the razzmatazz of the last checkpoint. It was just me and the tarmac road. I took some swigs of the chocolate milk, tasty and just enough energy to perk me up. and my brain was running on low battery, not my body as I mustered through one mini sausage roll. The thick darkness across the distant skyline occasionally broke due to the odd headlight of a car or two passing in the opposite direction but didn’t quite light up my spirits.
Off the tarmac and back on a track I went. The Official Wold’s Way was very well signposted. I was in my own silent head again, just me and the head torch and the pitter patter of my feet. Down to the village of Wharram Le Street a couple of either crew or marshals popped up to say hi.
Once round the village, it was up a wide limestone bridleway where two runners caught me up. I was walking they were running. I got asked if I was OK. I think I was OK. I had to stop for another wee and tried to eat another sausage roll but it felt too dry so I opted for another gel, which again was a mistake. I then tried some peanuts, but the ground managed to swallow up more of the peanuts than my mouth. I had to keep going forward, keep walking through the discomfort in my mind and my insides. For every trail of pain in an ultra there will always be a trail of pleasure, pain turns into pleasure often quicker than pleasure turns into pain and I knew I had to convince myself this was just a phase that I am only human and I could muster the strength to rise above it and find the pleasurable trail. Abandoning things just isn’t my thing.
For all the hardship, I was still excited to be on the trail, testing my endurance, feeling especially alive as strength and fatigue flowed alternately through my limbs. – Colin Powell
The pleasurable track did appear, it meandered down a steep field, where the bouncy soft soil reinvigorated my soul. One runner came whizzing past admitting he was in the relay ‘We won’t keep up with you then‘ I said and he vanished through the chilly wind and the opening of the dark skies as I was left to run on my own, unwind my mind and let the positive thoughts flow.
Positive mental sickness. – Unknown
Up and down some more, as the two runners ahead left me to pick up the dust. I was in my happier pace now following a track winding adventurously around woodland areas. A slight inline could just be made out through the glare of my head torch beam where a shadow would lurk. I caught up with Mr Shadow and said hi then pressed on. If at this point I was feeling a little pooped he must have been feeling even poopeded. I ignored any negative signals in my body and pressed on, this bubble would not pop, I was on a mission to make it to Wintringham as I had promised my drop bag that I would be there and I really didn’t want to let my drop bag down.
Our running shoes have magic in them. The power to transform a bad day into a good day; frustration into speed; self-doubt into confidence; chocolate cake into muscle. Mina Samuels
A large flashing light which looked at first like the emergency services, surrounded by a handful of support crew vehicles cheered me across a narrow lane and pointed me into the darkly forests. Lost in a blanket of blackness nurtured a sense of fear, of excitement engulfing me with a powerful discovery, the discovery of my mojo. I ran effortlessly through the thick maze of woodland, smiling to myself, laughing and skipping down towards the next checkpoint.
The village hall at Wintringham was right en route. As I was going in, a lady was just coming out she looked cheerful and we exchanged greetings with each other. As I entered I got asked to show my gloves which had been on and off and on and off like the flicker of light on my head torch when it is about to lose its power. Luckily it hadn’t yet lost its power.
My drop bag was magically waiting for me. My insides were wrecked, I looked at the table full of goodies but couldn’t face anything. They were offering pizza, cake, savoury goodies and hot drinks but my tummy said no. I wish I had taken some malt loaf or something like that but at the time it just couldn’t reach out for anything bar fill-ups of tailwind and water.
I left my second chocolate milk on the table (in liquid form this time) and placed all my other goodies into my rucksack – more ginger, peanuts, something else and something else and another gel along with a packet of shotblocs.
It was here at the checkpoint I met Mr Paul Nelson. We’d met briefly crewing for mutual friend Stuart Little back in 2014 and then remember meeting at the car park after my only other Hardmoors race – the Hardmoors 30 back in 2015. I knew his name but my brain wasn’t working. He was sat down I really didn’t need to sit down so I said hi, we talked about Stuart for a split second and then I went on my way thanking the checkpoint for their help whilst being told I was in 2nd place and that 1st lady was not far in front.
Myself and Paul left the checkpoint together and then I went ahead, round the village and up a field into some dark deep forest sheltering me from the tiny bit of moonlight that occasionally poked through the night time cloud. The rhythmically beat of my feet pounded the wide forest track as I climbed steadily through the plantation. A turning up meant up. Although the Wolds Way is not considerably hilly there are one or two really really sharp and stiff and chaotic climbs. The densely packed trees loomed high above but all I had to do was to use the overhanging branches to pull myself up to the top. It took my breath away as I scrambled to the top to a fence that looked it was out of hobbit land. Once on the top, I scampered through the bushes and trails, stumbling over roots. This chaos of the terrain coupled with the bright glow of my head torch made for such a therapeutic few moments as I enjoyably ran on the edge of the Wolds escarpment. Just me myself and I. This is an adventure at its best.
The ginger I had taken earlier had settled my insides for a little while and I was without any sort of discomfort. The night air was wrapping itself around me, guiding me through the small woodlands and sticky mud, jumping over sticks and tree roots there add to the challenge of the adventure.
Ahead I could see a shadow, I gradually crept up on the shadow and said hi as we opened and closed gates for each other – the other woman I’d seen come out of the last checkpoint. The pitter patter of rain returned, this was the bleakest point. It felt a little like sleet as the horizontal drops cast deep groovy shadows across my head torch. At times I would let the other woman go, as I was fatiguing a little, I wanted to run my own race and didn’t wish to crowd her journey. A narrow path, on a camber, was further made uneven by the knotted roots that crossed it, branching at intervals but it was still relatively straightforward to follow the official Wold’s Way Route.
The finish line is the same for all runners. How we get there and what we do along the way are what matters most. The journey defines us.
We both ran together for a while in almost silent unison but allowing each other enough space for our own thoughts. Another guy caught us up or it could have been other way around as he’d appeared out of bushes assumingly having gone for a wee. The three of us ran down the roadway together-sih but still giving each other enough space.
After about a mile or so of a downhill road, the route veered off to a straight track to avoid the village of Sherburn. Myself and the other guy were now running well together the other girl had all but disappeared.
Run more and don’t be sorry.
It never ceases to amaze me that in ultra running how muscles that were working so hard only minutes ago now began to struggle to hold my weight. Along a wide flat path with the nasty aroma of excrement and rancid decomposition filling our lungs made it a more arduous journey through the bridleway. It had stopped raining but the wind was still blustering. A rising feeling of nausea from my stomach began again. I was determined to keep going despite the sticky grass which we were now encountering.
Paul caught us both up and we chatting for a few minutes whilst walking up one of the sticky bankings. I stumbled along behind him as fast as possible but alas the sting in my tummy was becoming even more prominent.
I was vigilant of the route, allowing my head torch to lead the way, through what would be the final few squidgy fields. This would lead to a mile or so of the road which would head towards the radio mast at the RAF station near Staxton Wold.
Although only a slight incline on tarmac this section felt remarkably difficult. A monotonous journey but I was not about to let this bubble to pop. I distracted myself by discovering my shotblocs in one of my little race vest pockets which gave me that little bit of distraction I needed to refocus and regain control of myself again.
There is no satisfaction without a struggle first. – Marty Liquor
Once back on some trails, there was another insane steep incline which once again required using the surrounding thin trunks of the bushes to wrench me up the banking to the top. The inky darkness of the woodland canopy was left behind to expose hat would in daylight be beautiful green fields.
The happiness of running up and down the fields soon wore off as another guy caught me up. We had a little chat and I did my best to keep up with said bloke if only to take the mind of my regurgitating tummy.
Running is not easy and its challenging its that kind of good discomfort that cleanses us – Scott Jurek
Over yonder on the top of the hillside, I could see a marque beckoning us eagerly towards it, a large neon sign flashing brightly with the words ‘Coke Cola‘ but only in my mind. I needed coke to settle my insides. The discomfort was beginning to eat away at my brain, the side of my brain that wanted to quit, those conflicting thoughts running around faster than those doing Parkrun earlier in the day. My tummy was now on 3% battery power, and I knew it needed a boost to see me through the next section.
A slog to the top of the hill was well worth it for the cheery marshals were there to greet us with huge smiles and praises, and of course coke.
I rudely opened a bottle of coke whilst the very kind marshal filled up my soft flask with water. I was still supporting half a flask of tailwind and half of water. I downed two cups of coke. I was unable to reach for any of the tantalising goodies on offer so I would do with shotblocs, water and sips of naked tailwind for the rest of the journey.
Why do people do this shit for fun?
I met up with Paul again who had been ‘taking it easy’, having had a hot chocolate at the checkpoint. He kindly asked how I was, I replied with the same answer as only a couple of hours previous. We chatted a little more and he encouragingly told me to just keep going, one foot infront of the other, ‘Just don’t stop‘ he advised, this is the guy who had completed the full Spine and the Hardmoors 200 and was about to do the Cheviot Goat 7 days later. If anyone had any good advice right at this point it was Paul. Just keep going. Just keep going. And I did, trying to forget about my knotted up stomach.
Just remember right, left, right, left….repeat. – Jordan F
A few worn trogs around fields, a couple of steep descents which I often find easier in darkness than in the light and through some more sparse woodland areas we ran. I was hanging off the back of Paul taking my mind off my knife edge discomforts. I would keep going no matter what.
Pushing your body past what you thought it was capable of is easy; the hard part is pushing yourself even further – Rex Pearce
We overtook another guy who Paul seemed to know as they had a brief chat about reaching the finish before midnight which would give a sub 16-hour finish. I could only dream of that. I’d not had any far-fetched ideas of time for this event. Maybe sub 20 but surely to finish inside of Saturday would be stupidly overoptimistic that it never even crossed my mind. Until now. We’d got about 8 or 9 miles ahead of us and around 1hr 45 to 2 hours to midnight. Could it be done?
My head torch began to flash as I ran through the farmers trods. There was no light apart from my head torch. I dug out my pen torch which was remarkably good despite being a £2.99 job from Home Bargains the other week and never tested. I switched off my Petzl for a while, then remembered that the flashing light meant that I had about 30 minutes low power left on it. So knowing the little village of Muston was only a few miles away I was on a mission to reach the Muston streetlights within that 30-minute gap. It was quite a ‘fast section’, all meandering downhill. The legs were moving well and I was now back in a good place both in the body and mind.
I stopped the flow for a flow of a different kind as I crouched behind a bush for another wee with onlookers of sheep or cows probably gazing at my backside. I am sure they’ve seen it a million times before anyway.
The delightful street lights of Muston soon appeared and this is where I took the opportunity to swap the housing on my head torch. I could put my head torch on full beam now if I wanted as I knew I was only around 5 miles from the finish. However, I didn’t want to be too complacent so switched it on the medium setting for the final few fields before hitting the road into Filey.
I tried another shotbloc but within seconds spat it out. I was unable to swallow it so it would just be a bit of Naked Tailwind and water that would keep me going for the remaining 5 miles or so. I tried to block out any negative thoughts of me bonking a couple of miles from the end.
You can hurt more than you ever thought possible, then continue until you discover that hurting isn’t that big a deal. – Scott Jurek
Before hitting the seafront, the route took a turn for the worse – it avoided the official Wold’s Way into Filey and turned the opposite way, too big for a dogleg, a giraffe leg at its best, to add on an extra mile or so just because we’d not have otherwise run an official 80 miles. Or just because Jon – the RD is a sadist and likes to inflict further discomfort (I mean ‘challenge’) into his events.
Slippy muddy puddles fringing a caravan park added to the already varied terrain. Then it was down a few steps to the glittery lights of FileyVegas delicately hanging around the bay for around half a mile or so.
I passed not one but two guys on Filey seafront, I was still tailgating Paul a little. Before I knew it we were at the end of the promenade and ready to tackle the first of two sections of steps which would take us up the cliff edge to Filey Brigg. I’d all but forgotten about my tummy pains as I knew I was so close to the finish. The steps though arduous were not as bad as I had imagined. Perhaps it was the onset of social media that had painted an evil picture of these steps being the big bad demon of the route. However, although they were indeed proper steps my legs were working well and even on the cliff top I was running in as much comfort as comfort can be after 79 miles. Down another long flight of steps, and then up the final flight to Filey Brigg. Steps steps steps – Tragedy! – Well, it could have been a Tragedy as we had to do that all over again in the opposite direction to get back to Filey town centre and the official Finish.
I didn’t think about the back bit too much. I was still running, the large grassy banking that led up to the last checkpoint at the official end of the Wolds Way could have been a bit of a death march but in reality, I found I was moving well.
A couple of runners were hobbling their way back down but I kept myself moving. I shouted my number out to the lovely man at the door of his tent turned around and ran back down the grassy banking overtaking the said guys we’d passed only moments previous. I was still loosely chasing Paul, who was on a mission, to bag as many places as he could and get in before midnight. Even those steps up and down up and down felt peculiarly comfortable well as comfortable as 100 or so steps can be at the end of an 80-mile endurance event.
You just can’t beat the person who won’t give up. – Babe Ruth
I welcomed myself back to Filey Seafront once again. There was just a tiny hill to get up and then three streets to run across and I’d be ‘home’. I daren’t look at my watch but as we climbed up the hill the little clock on the church shouted out at us that it was 11.50pm. Unless I suddenly fell to the ground dead in which case the RD would only want my tracker back, we were going to make it before midnight. I found a spurt of energy as I ran passed not one, not two but three streets as fast as my little legs would carry me, somewhat pointlessly as I knew by this time I had made it unless a big lorry was to pull out and run me over. I crossed the street to the Sea Cadets people cheering me in as I piled into the hall and stopped.
I think I get addicted to the feelings associated with the end of a long run. I love feeling empty, clean, worn out, and sweat-purged. I love that good ache of the muscles that have done me proud. — Kristin Armstrong
I hugged Paul and thanked him for the last 8 or 9 miles. A little overwhelmed, I didn’t know what to do or how I felt. The nauseous head spinning emotions were well catered for as the marshals knew how to look after me.
I was given a beautiful hot cup of tea and some bean mix but after a couple of spoonfuls, I was unable to eat any more. I then discovered the crumpets. Everyone needs a good crumpet so a cup of tea and a crumpet was just the thing. I’d got some nutrition in my finish bag but alas I wasn’t able to get that down me. Thank god for crumpets thank god for Hardmoor Crumpets. The delightful spread of cakes, quiches, sandwiches crisps and sweets eagerly gleamed at me but I couldn’t face any of it.
I staggered to the showers to gawk at my sweaty achievement and put on clean clothes. Cheers could be heard from the hall as a few more runners had finished.
By the time I had tidied myself up 2nd and 3rd females had arrived and it was presentation time. I was presented with a lovely 1st Female trophy and a new UD race pack. Rather overwhelmed with my time of 15 hours and 46 minutes. I am not counting the seconds.
In many ways, a race is analogous to life itself. Once it is over, it cannot be re-created. All that is left are impressions in the heart, and in the mind. – Chris Lear
There was a separate area to sleep, so we’d brought roll mats and sleeping bags. As instructed I’d left mine in the car a couple of streets back. Once I could mechanically move my legs again, I wandered endlessly around the back streets of Filey in camping slippers trying to find the car to pick up our sleeping bags and roll mats. Back at the hall, I had another cup of tea and crumpet and then it was time to try and sleep. That didn’t quite work, even trying to listen to sleep meditation snippets didn’t work as the snoring of a few other gentlemen alongside the adrenaline overdose, buzzing of the endorphin lined bloodstream and twitching of muscles. So I gave up and had another cup of tea and a crumpet whilst waiting for John to come in.
What a fantastic inaugural event. I heard nothing but praise for the event, the fluidity of the organisation, right from pressing the enter button all the way through the 80 miles of trail and right beyond the finish. People can run 80 miles but not any person can put on such a well-organised event. Remember crumpets save the day. Everyone needs a good crumpet especially a Hardmoors crumpet.
Official Results (18th place out of 204 on the start line; 1st Female)