Unusually for a Hardmoors event I woke up on Saturday morning to be greeted by a clear and cloudless sky. Usually its gale force winds and torrential rain so it made a welcome change.

The nice weather would have a big effect on a lots of peoples races later in the day. Mine included!

I had my breakfast and dragged Victoria out of bed, feeling a bit guilty for getting her up at 5:30am on Saturday morning after she had a busy week at work and would have much preferred to have stayed in bed i’m sure.

We arrived at Guisborough air cadets HQ at around 7am, I signed on and got my kit checked in the usual efficient manner I have come to expect at Hardmoors events.

Before long it was time for the race briefing and then we all made our way outside into the street for the start.

Just after 8am we were off, only 62miles along the Cleveland Way to the finish in Filey ahead of us.

This was a strange race for me because I had my first 100 mile ultra the following weekend in the St Oswalds Ultra so I had decided to try and take it a bit easier than usual and use the Hardmoors 60 as a chance to test out some new kit and food strategy ready for the big one the following week.

The main focus was to finish and get the 3 UTMB qualifying points on offer, no racing for me this time unfortunately

Stage 1: Guisborough – Highcliff Nab

The first section to the first checkpoint at Highcliff Nab was a short 2 miles but that included a climb to the highest point of the route at Highcliff Nab. I knew the climb from the Hardmoors Saltburn Trail Marathon so decided to push towards the front to give myself a clear run at the climb and ensure I wasn’t following 200 other runners.

My plan was to just take it easy after Highcliff Nab and keep a steady and relaxed pace to the finish line so I throttled back a little bit and started chatting to the other runners around me.

Nice fresh legs made the climb fly by with ease this time and we were soon at the top. Easy!

Miles ran: 2 Miles to go: 60

Hardmoors 60 - top of Highcliff Nab

Stage 2: Highcliff Nab – Saltburn Valley Gardens

From Highcliff Nab the route joina the Cleveland Way and passes through Guisborough Woods and I settled into what I would normally consider a slow pace but one that I was determined to try and keep to so my legs were as fresh as they could be at the finish.

This was a nice trail section and I soon fell in with a group of runners and started on my planned nutrition strategy of eating every 30mins throughout the race so I pulled out a homemade energy ball and munched on that as I ran.

It wasn’t long before we were through Spa Wood and past the spot I made a wrong turn in the Hardmoors Saltbrun Trail Marathon and then at the main road crossing at Slapeworth. I mentally kicked myself for making such an obvious navigational error and losing a few places and then continued on my way.

The group was making pretty good progress towards Saltburn and I was convinced my pace was far too quick so I made the decision to drop the pace a little, relax and enjoy the run.

I wasn’t after a good result after all, just a finish I kept telling myself!

Miles ran: 9 Miles to go: 53

Stage 3: Saltburn Valley Gardens – Runswick Bay

Just before we hit the the coastal path we got a lovely round of applause from a group of people sat on a bench. I’m not sure if they were there for other runners but its a great little morale booster.

Once you hit the sea the basic navigation is to keep the sea on your left until you hit Filey where you turn inland to the finish.

This is also the first of the many short and steep climbs on the route. I lost count of the number of steps we went up and down on the route but it was enough to give me nightmares for the week after.

It was on this section where I began to feel the heat of the sun and realized it was going to be a big factor in the race.

We had a long way to go still so I kept a steady pace and carried on moving. I had to really ration my water because I was going through it very quickly. I just couldn’t quench my thirst.

The first drop bag was at Runswick Bay and I was looking forward to getting some water and a top up of my food.

I refilled my bottles and got my food out of my bags, stuffed it into my pack and was off again.

Miles ran: 23 Miles to go: 39

Stage 4: Runswick Bay – Saltwick Bay

We dropped onto the beech just after the checkpoint at Runswick Bay and ran along the sand before heading up a steep ravine that had a small stream running down the centre. I bet that isn’t much fun if there has been lots of rain. Fortunately it was little more than a trickle today.

I caught Paul Nelson just before we hit Whitby, had a bit of a chat and ran into Whitby together. It was the start of a pattern that continued for the rest of the day. Bumping in Paul, only for one or the other to pull away just to be caught a few miles down the road.

Whitby saw the first of 2 sections that passed through busy tourist places and it was a nightmare. Having already ran 30 miles in the heat had made me a bit irritable and forcing my way through the crowds in the town centre was hell.

I lost count of the number of times I shouted excuse me only to be ignored and have to weave in and out of the dawdling tourist so I changed tactics and just started to shout move and keep charging. They soon started getting out of the way then.

Luckily this section didn’t last long and we were soon heading up the dreaded 199 steps towards Whitby Abbey. I didn’t count but there didn’t seem to be 199 steps and they were dealt with fairly quickly.

This section was a big mental hurdle – getting over the halfway point in the race. Its all downhill from here I kept telling myself – just keep going.

Miles ran: 32 Miles to go: 30

Stage 5: Saltwick Bay – Robin Hoods Bay

I think this was the toughest section of the race. A combination of the heat and distance was starting to have an effect and it was here where I had to really focus and keep myself moving at a reasonable pace.

Relentless forward motion I kept saying to myself. Left foot, right foot and repeat until Scarborough. How hard can it be?

My stomach wasn’t feeling great at this point. All the sugars I had been consuming in gel and liquid form were really making feel uncomfortable. Not a nice feeling to have, especially with such a long way to go.

In the end I didn’t have to worry about a bad stomach for long. It was all taken care of at the next checkpoint.

Miles ran: 38 Miles to go: 24

Stage 6: Robin Hoods Bay – Ravenscar Church Hall

I topped up with water at Robin Hoods Bay and had a swift cup of coke and set off on my way.

The coke turned out to be a big mistake and about 20 steps from the checkpoint it all came back all over the road right in front of a family out for a day at the seaside.

Just as I got back into my stride I heard the 2 children burst into tears. They probably weren’t expecting to see a 38 year old man in a lime green and blue outfit vomit a combination of coke, water, gels and homemade energy balls all over the road in the middle of the day when they left the house that morning so massive apologies to that family. Hope it didn’t ruin their day too much!

Luckily when the next projectile vomit came I managed to do it behind a wall and the third one went in a flower bed so at least it wasn’t on display as I ran off.

Thankfully this emptied my stomach of all the crap and I felt much better so I thought get your head down you’re in a race so that’s what I did.

It was a long slog to the next checkpoint with seemingly endless uneven steps up and down the cliffs.

The next checkpoint finally came into view high up on the hill so it was a case of getting my head down and pushing on. I think at this point I was somewhere in the top 10 so a good result was looking promising so long as I could keep going.

Hardmoors 60 Ravenscar checkpoint

The climb up to Ravenscar and the second drop bag

You could see the checkpoint at Ravenscar up on the hill from a good distance away and it just never seemed to get any closer.

Hardmoors 60 approaching Ravenscar checkpoint

Hardmoors 60 approaching Ravenscar checkpoint

It felt like a real long way until we finally reached the second drop bag point. The view from the top made it all worth while as well. Looking back over the bay was stunning.

Hardmoors 60 Ravenscar Checkpoint

Nothing beats a good cup of tea to make you feel better

I went straight to the toilet and washed my face. A combination of sweat and Hammer Nutrition espresso energy gels that had covered my face had me feeling a bit minging.

It was heaven to get a quick wash and a clean and to drench myself in cold water.

By the time I got out the brilliant marshalls had refilled my bottles and made me a nice cup of sweet tea. I got what I needed from my drop bag, had a piece of water melon and then was off again.

Miles ran: 42 Miles to go: 20

Stage 7: Ravenscar Church Hall – Scarborough

I had a really long walking break here after deciding I should take it easy what with the big race the weekend after.

A few runners came past me at this point but I wasn’t too worried. All I needed to do was finish and I would have been happy.

I finished eating and drinking and giving my feet a bit of a rest and got my head down again and pressed on.

The castle at Scarborough eventually came into sight but it never seemed to get any closer.

A few more steps – did I mention there was a lot of steps – and eventually we were spat out onto the promenade at North Bay.

I really wasn’t looking forward to this section as it was a flat 2 – 3 miles along the sea front and being a hot day it was full of tourists.

I decided to just get my head down and get it over with. I caught a couple of runners along this stretch and just kept pressing on.

It wasn’t too bad until I rounded the castle and hit the section with the beach and arcades on it. It f**king stank and to be able to smell it over the top of my earthly aroma says something!

I dodged fat tourist after fat tourist holding candy floss in one hand and hot dog in the other until some moron stepped into my path. I just dropped my shoulder and barged her out of the way, I didn’t have the energy to swerve and she saw me coming and could quite easily have moved stopped for a second to let me pass.

Did I mention I hated Scarborough?

Victoria was waiting for me at the Scarborough checkpoint and that gave me a little morale boost. It was good to see her after all these hours since I set off at Guisborough.

Hardmoors 60 Ultra Marathon - Scarborough checkpoint

Coming into the final checkpoint at Scarborough

Miles ran: 55 Miles to go: 5

Stage 8: Scarborough – Filey Methodist Hall

Leaving the final checkpoint I walked with Victoria for a bit while we talked about finish times and what we were going to do afterwards.

We hadn’t noticed but we took a wrong turn up by some chalets and came to dead end. We retraced our steps and at the point we had gone wrong I gave her a kiss goodbye and started the run to the finish.

I met back up with Paul Nelson at this point and we chatted while we walked up the bank towards Cayton Bay. We broke into a jog at the top and I think both of us sensing the end was in sight picked up the pace a little bit.

At Cayton Bay I thought we had ran into a street party as there was bunting stretched out all over the place but it turned out to just be the last marshal point going to town and getting into the spirit of things.

After the marshall point we dropped back onto the Cleveland Way and started to pick up the pace. We could see a couple of runners ahead so we got our heads down and set off after them.

Unfortunately for me Paul had a bit more left in his legs so he gradually started to pull away but I was still catching the other runners so just got my head down and pushed on.

I passed a couple of runners before we hit the end of the Cleveland Way and caught Gary Scott just as we headed through the car park towards the finish.

Not too sure where to go I ran with Gary to the finish in the Methadist Hall and finished joint 6th overall. Having set out to just finish in the top 50 and have a more relaxed race than normal I was over the moon with this result.

Next time I’m not going to schedule races so close to each other and try and come home with a medal.

Miles ran: 62 Miles to go: 0

Hardmoors 60 Finishers medal and t-shirt

Showing off my finishers medal and t-shirt

Thank yous

Thank you to my beautiful wife Victoria for spending the day following me around North Yorkshire and being there in Scarborough and at finish. Also for chauffeuring me home and getting a bag full of goodies to enjoy.

Jon and Shirley Steel for putting these events on. They really are very well organized.

The marshalls who really can’t do enough for you at checkpoints and aid stations. You are all brilliant and I can’t thank you enough for all the help and support you give to everyone on the day.

All the other runners who I chatted too throughout the race and helped keep me going.

Kit

I’ve got to say I think I have my kit dialed now after a bit of trial and error in the beginning. All of it performed flawlessly throughout the race.

The only minor niggle I had was with the laces on my shoes digging into the top of my foot but I soon solved that by loosening them slightly and carrying on.

The Scott Kinabula are so comfortable and supportive with great cushioning. The tread is like a tractor tyre so isn’t going to let you down in a hurry. I think they might be the perfect ultra shoe as they have a great mix of support, cushioning, comfort and grip. They aren’t great on roads but this is a minor worry when its mostly trails I run and compete on.

The Northface Flight Series shorts and t-shirt are a good combination of lightweight, quick drying and comfort. They are something you can put on and forget about. The shorts have a liner in them with mesh pockets which allows you to stash a few gels. A feature which I have come to really appreciate.

The Salomon Advanced Skin Hydro S-Lab 5 Set is another tried and tested bit of kit, Lightweight and with pockets in all the right places it’s big enough to carry all the mandatory kit in comfort. Highly recommended.

Getting your kit right is a big part of how well you perform in a race and I think through a bit of trial and error as well as lucky picks and I seem to have got mine sorted

Just wish I could get my nutrition strategy as dialed in as my kit as I’m still struggling to find something I can eat during the later stages of the race.

I don’t want gels at this stage but I struggle getting anything savory down. I tried some baby food sachets this time and whilst I found I could eat them, boy did they taste like shit!

Kit list

Strava