We arrived via Leeds having dropped the youngest off in his new home for his last year at Uni. The gates to the Sea Cadets were closed and the rugby club looked busy so we drove to the Slapewath lay-by and spent the night there. After our meal it got dark quite quickly under the trees and we settled for an early night.
|Andy and Chris catching up on gossip|
|and Mick who I have not seen for a while|
I was hoping to start at a steady pace and enjoy the day. The forecast was for a warm sunny day. Once we left the tarmac and started up the narrowing lane it was a little stop start until we were over the stile and out in the fields. By the time we were climbing through the woods I was stripping off a layer and chatting happily to other runners. After High Cliff Nab I caught up with Martin (who guided me through the last 12 miles on my first attempt at this race) and this should have warned me to slow down.
Instead I hung on and used his knowledge to get to the new first CP and out to the beach. I had also spotted Andy up ahead but sensibly decided to let him go. As we reached the cliffs the day was warming fast and the views along the coast were stunning. Ironically my achilles was not too bad yet but I had a pain up the front of that shin and my other calf was sore. I ignored it all and concentrated on the views and taking photos.
It was such a lovely day and I thanked my lucky starts that it was not raining or horrid. I can never remember the route along the coast or even the order of places until I get there and suddenly it all makes sense.
I need not have worried about the diversion near Skinningrove because there were marshalls and although it may have been slightly longer it saved the sandy descent to the beach and the risk of sand in my socks and shoes.
|One daunting aspect is seeing just how far it is|
I must have got into some sort of steady rhythm here because the next thing I knew we were descending towards Staithes and the narrow footbridge and quaint streets.
I caught some runners who had just overtaken me before Staithes but it was not long before the pulled away again. I tried to concentrate on eating knowing that I had more food in my drop bag in just a few miles and also that I should eat now before it got hot and I got really tired and found I had no appetite.
The next section of coast path had fantastic views down onto wave cut platform and it distracted me wonderfully. Probably didn't help my speed but it did improve my enjoyment. I did lots of mental maths about 1/4, 1/3 miles, hours etc. Runswick would be roughly 1/3 of the way there. The steep tarmac down to Runswick hurt but was mercifully short. I took my time getting my bottle refilled and eating the rice pud from my drop bag.
Getting going again was tricky, or perhaps I had just eaten too much, so I walked a bit and jogged a bit along the beach laughing at how confused I had become in the dark on the 110 when I thought I couldn't find the ravine.
No such worries today and I was soon on my way to Kettleness and more wonderful cliff top views. Oh, and the first of the Wykes and steps. The food and painkillers had kicked in and I ran well along the cinder track to Sandwell. Somewhere in this stretch I passed Andy who announced he was stopping at the next CP. I presumed his knee had not recovered as he had hoped. No CP here today but I did stop to use the loo and to refill my water bottle yet again. The inlet at Sandsend was packed with families enjoying the sun but the pavement was fairly clear and I was pleased to find I could run most of the way to Whitby and was leaving people behind for a change.
Before long the whale bones were in sight and the abbey beyond them. I loathe the next bit as it is always packed and there is the smell of fried onions etc. The quayside and the swing bridge were not too bad and running in the road gave me a relatively clear path.
The narrow cobbled pedestrian streets to the abbey steps were another matter. The tangle of families, pushchairs, dogs on leads, toddlers, window shoppers, ditherers etc drove me mad and it was a relief to reach the 199 steps up to the abbey. I was tired but felt OK.
|Two trashed but hopeful Grand Slammers|
The path from Whitby to the caravan site is easy running and |I could see the Runfurther flags and then Dick, John V and others. Chris D was stood waiting having decided to pull out injured. A quick chat and more fuel and it was off south towards Robin Hood's Bay. Half way now so just keep thinking positive.
I pottered on enjoying the scenery. It wasn't fast but things were not hurting too much and I was making progress. The next CP had moved to a better location on the grass opposite the pub. The beers were tempting but I settled for melon, veggie roll and more water. It was hot and I was starting to feel thirsty- a sure sign I was not drinking enough and would soon find it hard to eat. The climb up the steps after Albion Street was a challenge and I stopped at the top for more painkillers. The steps down to Boggle Hole were drier than I remember and so not greasy which was a real bonus. More steps at Stoup beck, oh heck. I could see the hotel on the cliff at Ravenscar but it took a long time to get any closer. I spotted other runners up ahead and made a determined effort to use up some food and catch them up. I was also truing to decide what to do about footwear knowing that the 3 miles or so on tarmac in Scarborough would be hell. The CP in the church was wonderful. Bob was still there and fetched me cups of tea, cheese and pickle sandwiches plus melon. Martin's wife put vaseline on the rucksack rubs on my back and Bob brought a change of shoes from the van. I do not own road shoes and the Hokas are first generation. They are a bit clown like and I rarely use them. I hoped the change would not be a mistake. Two thirds completed, how hard can it be? David and I set off together but he was now feeling better as the air cooled whereas I suddenly felt chill and had to stop and put on my thermal. Then once we left the lane I realised my feet were too loose in my shoes and I had to stop and put a second pair of socks on. This was perhaps the most comical part of the day. I couldn't find a seat or stile so sat on the grass. As soon as I bent forward both thighs cramped up. It left me rolling around on the floor not knowing whether to laugh or cry. Thanks to all those who asked it I was OK and I hope the comedy act helped you on your way. Five minutes or so later and I was on my way once more and pleased to have spent the time as I tackled the steps at Hayburn Wyke.
Scarborough Castle looked huge and loomed from a long distance off. I tried not to think of the prom but just that once at the Spa it was only 11 miles to the finish and I could walk that.Coming off Scalby Mills and down to the Sea Life centre I spotted Emma sitting on the wall. She looked down so I joined her for a moment. I didn't dare wait long in case I seized up. Another runner appeared behind me and we used each other to try to keep the pace up round the North Bay and onto the headland. It was later than I expected and I now started to worry that my torch would have enough battery. The seaside tourists were supportive but slightly bemused when they understood what we were doing. At least two asked me where in town the race finished and their faces when I answered Filey were a picture.
I reached the Spa just as the waves were getting big as the tide was in Nikki warned me to stay off the low path near the 'star'. I really tried to eat here but after one bit of melon and orange almost made a reappearance decided just to get on with it. I was tired but not tearfully so for a change. (Scarborough seems to be my low point). As I reached the gravel path up the hill I was forced to turn my torch on and I jogged to the road above Cayton Bay all alone. The marshalls there felt mean but sent us down on the Cleveland Way. Sadly I misunderstood the instructions and went down and down to the beach. Partying teenagers took pity on my and advised against the beach as the tide was in. I declined their offer of beer and pizza and climbed back up to the path junction. I could have done without the diversion and extra climb but hey ho and at least I knew the rest of the route well. Climbing onto the last cliff section my body rebelled, First a toilet stop and then some painful minutes of dry heaving. Once I had been sick I felt better and trotted on. Normal fold will think this mad but I am sure other runners will understand. I had company on the last section of path which helped keep the pace up a little as we both took it in turns to try to run. The lights of Gristhorpe gave us false hope but I knew to just keep going. I hoped I could find my way across the last sections of grass and I did. I hoped the tide mad miraculously gone out so I could run the beach- it hadn't. Along the prom I met runners coming from all sorts of strange directions and roads. They smelt the finish and ran on. I walked. It seemed wrong to run the last few hundred metres having walked so much. Tired but less trashed than last year. My feet hurt but my legs were in better shape than usual- proof I had not run hard. Dick and Bob were there to greet me which was nice. Bob had taken flags down at the start, taken them to Dick at Slapewath and then Dick had put them up again at Saltwick. Bob meanwhile had gone for his run, tended to me at Ravenscar and then put flags and display boards up at the finish. It took me a while to recover and I struggled to eat solids. I was too tired to be bothered with a shower and once I had washed my face, neck, hands and arms I felt fairly clean.
I was amazed to find I was first LV50. In 2012 it took me about 12 hrs 30, then the next time 13hrs 30. Today was 14 hours 6. I had forgotten we had started late at about 8.11am. I guess if I remembered I might have tried to scrape in within the 14 hours. At this rate in 5 years time I will be getting timed out!
We sat talking til midnight and although it was a shame to miss the later finishers suddenly all I wanted was to go back to the van and fall into bed. Bob took care of all the flags and boards and then me.
So job done and the Grand Slam is still a possibility for me and for David. Hardmoors races are wonderful- the ROs, the friendly marshalls, the other runners.... The winning men were just over 10 hours and Kim England was not far behind in 4th overall and 10.35. Awesome. Several Runfurther runners had a good day out. Ian Symington was second in 10.10, Martin Terry was 1st MV50 in 11.09 and many others finished- David, Dave and Kayleigh, Mick C, Steve S, Alison and Marie and Harry G. Breakfast in the Greasy spoon cafe started to repair the damage.